For a minute last night, I could’ve sworn I’d traveled back in time and was sitting in my college dorm four decades ago watching the news. Before Thursday’s CNN Democrats’ debate, there hasn’t been such a liberal lovefest since their hippie brethren first congregated at Woodstock in 1969.
You had to listen to believe it: Bill Richardson saying, “give peace a chance” and John Edwards saying Democrats had to restore “power to the people.” All this debate lacked was the long hair, the marijuana cigarettes and the “power to the people” screech featured in Laura Ingraham’s radio intro.
Now they want to be called, “progressives.” But if it looks like a liberal, talks like a liberal and whines like a liberal, it’s a liberal. And this gang is as liberal as Ivory Soap is pure.
Clinton did well, at least compared to last time. She managed to fire off her scripted lines (one about wearing an asbestos pantsuit), and played the gender card very well. First she denied she and Bill were firing back at the boys for picking on a girl, and then went on and on talking about how 90-year old grannies were waiting hours in line to shake her hand, telling her that they were born when women couldn’t vote and wanted to live to see a woman elected president. Aww. Ain’t she cute?
Under attack, Clinton rebounded better than the last time. Though driven to taking notes, Clinton counter-attacked, accusing Edwards of slinging mud at her (imagine: a trial lawyer slinging mud) and saying — at long last, clearly — that she opposed giving illegal immigrants drivers’ licenses. That one issue consumed about ten minutes of the two-hour debate and proved to be the springboard for the liberals to flaunt their stuff.
Most of the debaters tried to slip and slide around the illegal immigration issue. Edwards said he didn’t support giving illegals drivers’ licenses but can’t accept that we won’t have “comprehensive immigration reform,” the lingo President Bush labeled the amnesty bills conservatives stopped cold last summer. Obama went farther, endorsing the idea of giving drivers licenses to illegals.
You have to hand it to Joe Biden: the man has style. It’s tough for an unreconstructed New Deal liberal to look bright and fresh these days, but Biden managed to do just that. Maybe he’s so far behind in the polls, he’s decided there’s nothing to lose by being honest. None of the leaders had that problem.
Biden is one of the most loquacious of senators, and that’s not an easy title to achieve. In confirmation hearings on Supreme Court nominees, his questions seemed to go on for hours, in so many twists and turns that few could follow (or stayed awake to try). But last night — almost 24 points behind Clinton in the latest Iowa polls — Biden was ignored for the first several minutes. When Wolf Blitzer finally called on him, he jokingly responded, “No, no, don’t ask me to speak.” And — brace yourself, Senate-watchers — he actually answered a question with a single word. When asked whether he supported drivers’ license for illegal aliens, Biden said, “No.”
And so did Clinton, having had two weeks to flip-flop on the question. She flip-flopped again, this time not so obviously. When asked if she would place human rights above national security concerns, Clinton said no. This, of course, directly contradicts her whole foreign policy laid out in her October 16 article in “Foreign Affairs” in which she promised to make human rights the centerpiece of foreign policy.
Gov. Bill Richardson didn’t flip-flop on that point, saying that human rights was more important than national security. Obama parried and ducked the question, as he did several others.
John Edwards got the biggest applause from the crowd, saying Americans don’t trust their government and then went on to show why he couldn’t be trusted to bring in the morning paper. Edwards went through a liberal catechism, saying — at one point or another — that the PATRIOT Act should be “massively changed”, racial profiling, President Bush’s “illegal spying on American people” and rendition should all be stopped, and demanding that the terrorist detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba be closed. Edwards also said that there should be no more secret prisons and expressed his shock that we were even talking about “which kinds of torture” should be legal.
Edwards gained some ground attacking Hillary by saying we don’t need to replace “corporate Republicans” with “corporate Democrats.” Edwards then had his “power to the people” moment. Someone should buy him a copy of Laura’s book. His attack — that Clinton is the old Washington machine, not the change America needs — seemed to help Obama more than Edwards.
If there were any proof needed that all the Dems are tied to the old liberal lines, their answers on the abortion issue provided it. And, as liberals do, they tried to cloud their answers in code words.
Loyalty to Roe v. Wade is embedded in the genetic code of the Democratic Party’s, and they reaffirmed it last night. Chris Dodd (yes, he’s still there, and so is Dennis Kucinich) said he’d never want a Supreme Court justice who would even think about overturning Roe.
Clinton, Biden, Edwards and Obama all hid under the “Constitutional right to privacy” argument Roe created. Clinton said she’d demand that any Supreme Court nominee share her view on the “right to privacy” which, she said, goes hand-in-hand with adherence to Roe. Edwards went her one better, saying that he’d insist on justices who agreed that Roe was “settled law,” meaning it wouldn’t be overturned by any justice he’d appoint.
Asked how they’d unite the country — and Hillary asked if she were too polarizing — the candidates all slipped and slid around the issue, trying to talk about how they’d appoint permanent commissions (Obama) or appoint Republicans to their administrations (Biden). In all, not one of them had an answer. They can’t answer that because they have no intention of uniting the country. The only way liberals can be elected is by being divisive. As Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi demonstrate daily, liberals have no interest in uniting, just ruling.
Obama’s answer may have tagged the real losers of the debate. He called two Republican Senators — Indiana’s Dick Lugar and retiring Nebraskan Chuck Hagel — “wonderful.” Which is the kind of praise any Republican should least desire.
There really weren’t any clear winners. Joe Biden did best, Hillary held her own, and Obama didn’t blow it altogether. Edwards was the big loser. His “power to the people” comment and recitation of the liberal agenda makes him eligible to sing with Bob Dylan and Pete Seeger, and ineligible for anything else.
At the last moment of the debate, Clinton seemed at ease. That’s probably why she let her guard down answering the last question. Asked if she preferred diamonds or pearls, Clinton — eyes afire — said, “I want both.”
Clinton wants it all, and will do anything to get it. As her biggest fan — NYT columnist Maureen Dowd — wrote about ten days ago, “There is nowhere she won’t go, so long as it gets her where she wants to be.” That’s the Hillary we saw last night. And there’s a lot more to come.