Hillary and Obama: Substance vs. Style (The NH Debate)

One of the things that bothered me about last night's debate was Barack Obama's answer to the final question: "Tell me one thing you've said in those debates that you wish you hadn't said. And it's your chance to take it back."

He began with Hillary who said there were one or two things, didn't specify what they were and then went on to give a closing statement.

Edwards and Richardson answered with specific examples (Richardson wished he hadn't named Wizzer White as a great Supreme Court Justice and Edwards said he wished he hadn't criticized Hillary's jacket at an earlier debate.)

Obama, seizing on Hillary's refusal to name an error and give a closing statement instead, said "there have been all kinds of aspects to my debate performance that I'd love to correct or sharpen," and used the final seconds to give his closing statement.

Below is what Hillary said and what Obama said. Hillary's answer is issue-specific. Obama's is generalities and buzzwords. [More...]

It why it has seemed to me all along Obama lacks substance as well as experience. Since I know now from reading his literature that he does have some specific plans, I'm wondering why he seems incapable of expressing them. He comes across as all promises, no specifics. I wanted to throw the tv clicker at him. We shouldn't have to do hours of research on candidates to know where they stand. Is it too much to ask for Obama to get out from behind the professor's podium and stop playing philosopher and tell us what he's going to do?


What's really most important about these debates is that the Democratic Party stands in such contrast to the Republicans.

You know, the Republicans have a totally different approach to what we need to be doing. They're not talking about the mortgage crisis and trying to solve it. They're not talking about what I fear to be a slide into recession.

They're not talking about global warming. They're not talking about science and innovation. They're not talking about what really is going to face the next president.

So, I think that we've done in our debates a much better job in actually getting out the issues that are going to be on the desk in the Oval Office when the president walks in.


Overall, actually, here's an area where I agree with Hillary: that there has been a stark contrast, generally, between the four of us and those who aren't debating with us now but were previously.

There is going to be a fundamental difference between the Republican nominee and the Democratic nominee: ending the politics of fear that has so dominated our political debate, making certain that we're actually listening to the American people and the struggles and hardships that they're going through.

And I think the opportunity to bring the American people together and to push back those special interests, to actually deliver on meaningful differences in their lives, that's something -- that's a prospect that I think all Democrats should be excited about.

Many of us are trying to believe Obama would be a good President if nominated. But his repeated resort to generic promises of "hope," "optimism" and "change" without specifics is just so annoying. It's one thing to go after the youth vote, it's another to treat us all like children.

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    Poetry vs. Prose (5.00 / 3) (#4)
    by Any D Over Any R on Sun Jan 06, 2008 at 11:59:47 AM EST
    I honestly do not see how the quoted responses from Clinton and Obama reveal different degrees of policy specifics. Sen. Clinton does not indicate what she would do about the mortgage crisis, or an impending recession, or climate chnage. They both discussed general distinctions between Democrats and Republicans, with Clinton tossing out a few issue topics where there are differences, and Obama throwing out a few topics where there are process differences. Neither is specific. Neither should be specific in such a setting.

    There is a time and place for everything. Gov. Cuomo's oft repeated line remains true..."You campaign in poetry and govern in prose." Sen. Obama's great skill thus far has been in outpacing Senators Clinton and Edwards in crafting captivating and motivating campaign poetry.

    Edwards does pretty darn well at it too, of course, really moving people. In any room without an Obama speech, Edwards easily wins the campaign poetry contest. Unfortunately for him, in this campaign, most of the rooms do involve an Obama speech.

    All three have laid out impressive policy positions and details. We can quibble over which has a better or stronger position on this and that policy, of course, but all three are extremely solid. They not only out shine all the Republicans on their policy positions, but clearly outshine them on the detailed nature of their policy positions. Go look at position pages on the web sites for Republican candidates-- in addition to being wrong, there is almost no detail at all, on any position.

    Sen. Obama has laid out detailed policy positions, just like his fellow candidates. His choice to campaign in poetry rather than the policy specifics does not mean the specifics are not there. Campaign rhetoric (poetry) moves people to support the polciies. FDR in '32 campaigned on few policy specifics, but moved people. JFK in '60 campaigned on few policy specifics, but moved people. Reagan in '80 campaigned on few policy specifics (other than the Kemp-Roth tax cut proposal), but apparently moved a lot of people.

    The campaign poetry is not in place of policies, but a way to sell the policies to a larger audience.

    The 2 compliment each other (none / 0) (#8)
    by magster on Sun Jan 06, 2008 at 12:56:27 PM EST
    What was great about yesterday's debate is it followed right on the heels of the Republican debate, and the Republicans lost.  

    As for as style v. substance goes, Obama might shine in the bully pulpit as president, but he's going to need hundreds of Clintons and Edwards backing him up.


    so (none / 0) (#9)
    by Judith on Sun Jan 06, 2008 at 01:12:53 PM EST
    peeple say Obama is all about change but basically you are saying he is all about copying the EXPERIENCE of successful politicians starting from almost 80 years ago.

    How does this work with the Ole let's dump people of experience - dump them but but use their ideas and expereince? :=)

    Sounds awfullly phoney baloney to me.  But some people like that kind of contradiction.  Hey, who needs consistency? Do whatever works for the next half hour.  Sound Bushian


    Substance AND Style (5.00 / 1) (#16)
    by Any D Over Any R on Sun Jan 06, 2008 at 02:29:09 PM EST
    The role of oratory and rhetoric in SUPPORT of policies goes back well beyond 80 years. Nor is it unique to U.S. politics. It is a method of building political support.

    The specific oratory and specific policies vary over time (i.e., "change"), but the political method is indeed universal. The changes sought by FDR in the 30's, and JFK in the 60's, and Reagan in the 80's were very different, each representing a significant change. But, they all used moving rhetoric to build support for the changes they sought.

    "Substance vs. Style," or "Oratory vs. Policies" is not an either/or choice as laid out in this post. Rather:

    Moving oratory without sound policies = demagoguery.

    Sound policies without moving oratory = a tough environment to motivate people to get off the couch and vote.

    Moving oratory with sound policies = recipe for building political support.

    Clinton, Edwards, and Obama all have laid out sound (if marginally different) policies. All three also attempt to use oratory in support of their policies. Edwards and especially Obama are simply better at the rhetorical side of political campaigning than Clinton. Clinton isn't bad at the rhetoric, she is solid when compared to the vast majority of campaigners. But, Edwards and Obama are well above average in terms of rhetorical skills.

    All of which is to say, it's not Substance or Style, but Substance AND Style.


    well (none / 0) (#18)
    by Judith on Sun Jan 06, 2008 at 02:34:26 PM EST
    I totally didnt read or see any substance. Lots a woids thought.

    I am more of a - just cough it up I have work to do _ sort of personduring buisness hours.  Flowery speeches are for after hours - not when there is a pileup on my desk.

    We have an enormous pileup in theis country and la dee dah aint worth squat next to good old American "rolled up sleeves".

     And yes, that is a figure of speech as I do not roll up my sleeves.


    Respecfully (5.00 / 1) (#32)
    by Any D Over Any R on Sun Jan 06, 2008 at 04:21:19 PM EST
    Obama has released detailed policy positions and, early on, gave major foreign and domestic policy speeches (as did Clinton and Edwards). There is not less policy specificity there. All three have outlined detailed tax, health care, education, and foreign policy positions.

    As a campaign tactic, Obama (and, to a somewhat lesser degree, Edwards) CHOOSES to emphasis rhetoric over policy position papers on the stump. But, that campaign choice does not mean there is no substance. As the original post noted, the details and substance are there, she simply had to look it up. This may not be your preference as regards campaign techniques, but that is quite different from saying the candidate has no substance.

    Your preference for a cut to the chase, roll of the sleeves approach-- no doubt heartfelt-- is because you (and I) are already politically active and mobilized. Most Americans, alas, are not. To get them up off the couch they need to be mobilized, to be at least a little inspired.

    Policy position papers and discussions are simply not inspiring for most people (now, I've written dozens of policy papers for local, state, and national candidates, so I find them interesting, but I appreciate that this makes me the weird one).

    Oratory, rhetoric, principles-- these have the potential to motivate and inspire people. Stretching the point, Thomas Paine didn't lay out any policy specifics in "Common Sense," but he sure did motivate a lot of people to act politically. The result... positive change. It is a much smaller scale with Obama (I don't think anyone is contemplating revolution), but the same tactical idea...

    Good oratory and good rhetoric can drive good policy.


    Beautifully and eloquently stated :) (none / 0) (#41)
    by burnedoutdem on Sun Jan 06, 2008 at 06:15:32 PM EST
    I agree (none / 0) (#63)
    by Judith on Sun Jan 06, 2008 at 09:05:32 PM EST
    that he CHOOSES not to be specific.  The lack of specificity allows him to be all things to all people.

    It is easy to get all excited by a bunch of rhetoric but at some point, after being promised the moon, the continental army had to march on the government for the back pay from fighting for years without cash. Geroge Washington wept with embarrassment that his soldiers were stiffed.  So much for flowerty rhetoric when you want to feed your kids.

    I understand you want to win.  I understand he wants to win.  I want a government that works.  


    To Clarify (none / 0) (#65)
    by Any D Over Any R on Sun Jan 06, 2008 at 09:52:37 PM EST
    Obama chooses rhetoric over specifics ON THE STUMP ONLY. The specifics and substance are there, but not in speeches.


    • Obama made multiple policy statements across a range of issues, at the start of the campaign (just like Edwards and Clinton)

    • Obama has very detailed policy position papers, across a wide range of pressing issues, on his website (just like Edwards and Clinton)

    • Obama has held scores of "townhall" style events where he has taken policy questions and answered them in great detail (just like Edwards and Clinton)

    I have made this point twice already, and honestly, this will be my last stab at it, but there is no reason to believe that a candidate must either have substance or have style. It is a false choice. The most successful campaigns have BOTH-- detailed policy proposals AND soaring rhetoric to bring people to the policies.

    Successfully or not, this is clearly what Obama is attempting to do. He has made the detailed policy addresses and put out the detailed policy position papers and answers the specific townhall questions. On the stump, however, when reaching for a mass audience-- televised speeches and debates-- he chooses oratory over policy details to try and bring people in and BUILD SUPPORT.

    As with the cases cited earlier, FDR used sweeping rhetoric to bring people to the policies he successfully implemented. JFK used sweeping rhetoric to bring people to the policies he/Johnson successfully implemented. Reagan used sweeping rhetoric to bring people to the policies he successfully implemented (that's successfully implemented, not successful policies).

    Now, maybe Obama will succeed at this or crash and burn, but to argue that his use of sweeping political rhetoric is evidence or an indication of lack of substance or a lack of detailed policy positions is simply incorrect.

    P.S.: As regards the Tom Paine/American Revolution analogy... Paine used sweeping rhetoric to motivate people to act for independence and political freedom (as then understood). The failure of the Continental Congress to pay soldiers was indeed an embarrassment, but it hardly negates the conclusion that Paine's cause was overwhelmingly successful. Dare I say it... we should only HOPE that American politics could achieve this level of success over the next 4 to 8 years.


    yeah okay (none / 0) (#66)
    by Judith on Sun Jan 06, 2008 at 10:00:38 PM EST
    Now you are changing your tune. Sorry - I can still hear the old notes.  You dont get to change your argument just cause it didnt work.  That is called cheating and we may have to go to the tape. :-)

    and PS.  If Obama wants to inspire people to vote and get involved - groovy baby - he does not have to run for the highesdt office in the land first time out to to it.

    Paine wasnt running for office. Paine didnt have to actually DO THE JOB.


    More claims without support (none / 0) (#68)
    by burnedoutdem on Sun Jan 06, 2008 at 10:16:13 PM EST
    Now you are changing your tune. Sorry - I can still hear the old notes.

    Offer up examples and you might have a case.

    Kennedy: "ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country."  Had a policy initiative behind the rhetoric.  He helped motivate millions of young people to serve and had a policy in place to help fund and channel their efforts.

    Kennedy: Called for the US to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade - soaring rhetoric that motivated the country to support his policy to fund the space race (a policy that many thought was a waste of money before the speech).

    I'm with you, Ann...some people just think that "debate" is nothing more than ad hominem attacks and so don't see the value in true oratory.


    I already asked (none / 0) (#70)
    by Judith on Sun Jan 06, 2008 at 10:18:57 PM EST
    you to please leave me alone.  I wont address you again.

    in addition (none / 0) (#69)
    by Judith on Sun Jan 06, 2008 at 10:17:42 PM EST
    I never said he didnt have positions  - I was agreeing with you that he was CHOOSING not to air them  - you said it and I agreed. Then you realized that what you were saying was BAD for Obama and had to change your tune.
    You didnt come back and try to restate yourself "yet again" - you came back to try to CHANGE what you stated because it made Obama look bad.

    maybe it makes him look bad because it IS bad.  


    I am done - (none / 0) (#71)
    by Judith on Sun Jan 06, 2008 at 10:23:32 PM EST
    thank you for your efforts.

    Best -


    One Tune Only (none / 0) (#72)
    by Any D Over Any R on Sun Jan 06, 2008 at 10:54:41 PM EST

    Please do go to the tapes, as I have simply been restating the same position from the start:

    • my first post: "The campaign poetry is not in place of policies, but a way to sell the policies to a larger audience."

    • my second post: "All of which is to say, it's not Substance or Style, but Substance AND Style."

    • my third post: "As a campaign tactic, Obama (and, to a somewhat lesser degree, Edwards) CHOOSES to emphasis rhetoric over policy position papers on the stump. But, that campaign choice does not mean there is no substance...Good oratory and good rhetoric can drive good policy."

    • my fourth post: "The most successful campaigns have BOTH-- detailed policy proposals AND soaring rhetoric to bring people to the policies."

    It's the same tune, restated again and again (and, indeed, again and again).

    Short version for the fifth iteration: Campaigns need BOTH policies AND oratory. All three of our major candidates have laid out impressively detailed policy positions. It is factually incorrect that Obama has offered fewer or less detailed policy positions as Clinton or Edwards. Candidates then attempt to use oratory to move/inspire/mobilize people in support of their positions. Obama uses sweeping oratory a lot and very well. Edwards uses sweeping oratory a fair amount and pretty darn well. Clinton uses sweeping oratory the least and is solid/average at it. The original post laid out a case that one candidate offered "substance" (detailed policies) while another only offered "style" (oratory). My point--in post #1, #2, #3, #4, and now here--is that this is wrong and a false choice.

    It is substance AND style. Yes, Obama uses a lot of sweeping rhetoric or oratory--in SUPPORT of, not in lieu of, substantive policies.


    hear, hear! (none / 0) (#67)
    by burnedoutdem on Sun Jan 06, 2008 at 10:09:26 PM EST
    Nice use of alliteration and parallelism :)

    I especially liked the Reagan caveat - I was gonna call you on that one.


    I agree, Jeralyn (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by Judith on Sun Jan 06, 2008 at 12:30:34 PM EST
    Last night Seantor Clinton made specific references to her record and said just belief wasn't enough.  Senator Obama's only response was that he inspired people.  He does inspire people and that is very nice...but it is ephemeral not substantive and thus, I agree, annoying at this stage.

    However, it is deliberate.  If he is very concrete on policies he risks his appeal as a "uniter" to those who dont like his specifics.  Much better to play everyman to everybody and then later, when it is too late for some, let it rip.

    If he wins, I dont think he is going to be anything but middle of the road - but we have so many GOP created problems to clean up that I sure "hope" when he pulls his real agenda out it is big on massive cleanups before the next congressional election.  And on boy, he would people like Hillary to actually get things done.

    Agree, Judith (5.00 / 1) (#33)
    by chancellor on Sun Jan 06, 2008 at 04:35:20 PM EST
    Obama needs to run as a cipher. If there's an "alliance of convenience" anywhere, it's the alliance between Obama and the Democratic party. Hillary, in particular, last night, used her final minutes in allegiance to the Democratic party, but Obama's whole strategy is to be seen as neither fish nor fowl. He deliberately eschews any seemingly partisan contacts: he avoids the netroots and the grassroots, he reluctantly gave support to Ned Lamont, and he deliberately talks of Democrats, Republicans and independents in his speeches.

    His strategy has echoes of the George Bush "I'm a uniter, not a divider" theme, but with a difference--the idea that once he gets into office, he can pass legislation by preventing either party from specifically taking credit for its success; or, stated another way, both parties can claim success. This might work if he could develop a mandate to go along with it, such as the mandate most of us felt we were voting for in November, 2006 to get the U.S. out of Iraq. But that's the Catch-22: he needs to stay vague in order to be the "unity" choice. Not sure whether this will work.


    So far (none / 0) (#64)
    by Judith on Sun Jan 06, 2008 at 09:10:22 PM EST
    he aint done much so I am seeing a whole lotta "what if" scenarios with very little data to plug in. That makes me seek the person with data I CAN plug in.

    Leadership or Likability Meter? (none / 0) (#1)
    by robrecht on Sun Jan 06, 2008 at 11:07:49 AM EST
    I agree that Hillary is usually more substantive in articulating positions, but where she seems to be lacking among some/many/most voters is in the intangible perception of leadership or likability that so many voters judge with their gut instincts.  Is that merely a swimsuit competition manipulated by media savvy campaigns?  Sometimes this intangible instinct may serve us well but other times it clearly does not (do I need to mention George W. Bush?).  I'm interested in this intangible factor and whether or not it ever serves us well?  What do you all think?

    Any leader needs the intangible factor (none / 0) (#2)
    by DA in LA on Sun Jan 06, 2008 at 11:34:32 AM EST
    It is part of the equation.  To dismiss it is foolish.

    We need to believe in something (none / 0) (#42)
    by burnedoutdem on Sun Jan 06, 2008 at 06:26:32 PM EST
    We've always been a country of principles - it is what pushed us to revolt against England, fight and overcome a civil war and hang together during two world wars and a depression.  We could have torn up the constitution long ago, but as a people we hold the principles in such high regard.  I sometimes wonder if they're coded onto our dna  :)

    When a politician / orator / community leader finds a way to awaken those principles and help us to see the value in getting of the couch to pull a lever it's a big deal.  The people who feel a huge sense of responsibility to vote will vote no matter what.  Reaching the folks who haven't listened to their "better angels" in a while is the gift a true orator and the leader of a movement.  It's really a sight to see...

    To paraphrase an earlier speech of Sen. Obama - when 9/11 happened, our country wanted to be called on to do something selfless and big, but all our government asked us to do was shop.  Now, here's this person filling the void and reminding us that not only do we want to be better citizens, but here's a place to start.  I think the younger generation is really hungry for this.


    Aaack... (none / 0) (#74)
    by burnedoutdem on Sun Jan 06, 2008 at 11:30:20 PM EST
    I got caught up in the thread and didn't really answer your question.  Many sorries!  

    According to psychology/persuasion scholars, you do need to have what you call the "intangible" factor to persuade audiences.

    Basically in order for an audience to deem you as credible (and in this case, electable) you need to have three things (in not quite this order):

    1. Expertise - do you know what you're talking about.
    2. Trustworthiness - does the audience believe you and relate to you (do they perceive you as being similar to them)?
    3. Charisma - do you sound good (smooth, prepared, engaged) when you're talking to them?

    If you think about it, a candidate who is lacking one of the three can squeak by with an abundance in one of the other areas (Bush made up for his lack of expertise by being the guy people could "have a beer with,"). But when the audience sees a deficiency in two areas it can be the kiss of death (Kerry's experience was outweighed by the fact that he seemed smug and had a tombstone for a face).

    But, in our TV culture, a deficit in charisma really stings a candidate, and can negatively influence audience perception of the other two areas (if a candidate has poor eye contact, for example, it makes him/her look like they're untrustworthy; someone with a hesitant delivery style will look like they're not really an expert).  

    It's rare that we get a presidential candidate who is strong in all three areas; rarer still to get a truly gifted orator, and when we do it creates quite a sensation on a very instinctual level.

    Does that help actually answer your question?


    Thanks (none / 0) (#76)
    by robrecht on Sat Jan 12, 2008 at 10:12:18 AM EST
    I agree in general or in theory.  I guess what I'm really wondering is if people are aware of good historical examples of when voters wisely chose a likable leadership candidate despite less expertise or experience and it proved to be a good choice.  Do we have a sixth sense, are we able to trust our gut or intuitions in these kinds of choices?

    Style vs Substance (none / 0) (#3)
    by Angel on Sun Jan 06, 2008 at 11:58:06 AM EST
    Jerlyn, I agree with your comments about style versus substance.  I like the idea of hope, change and all those other good things.  But what I want in a leader is a proven ability to get things done.  I want someone with practical experience, not only in government, but in life in general.  I'm not saying that Obama doesn't have it, I'm saying that it hasn't been exposed to us.  Obama speaks in such broad strokes that I can't grasp what his true knowledge is, and that bothers me.  A lot.  I guess what I'm saying is that I want specifics.  He hasn't given them to me.  

    They're all unimaginative (none / 0) (#5)
    by Dadler on Sun Jan 06, 2008 at 12:04:16 PM EST
    They're all incapable of unleashing a genuine creative agenda.  They are all addicted to the idea that you have to present a public persona that is edited, safe, and inoffensive.  They want to be all things to all people.  I'll say it again: Howard Beale, where are you?

    Hillary, leadership, nepotism and gender (none / 0) (#6)
    by Aaron on Sun Jan 06, 2008 at 12:19:56 PM EST
    Here's an op-ed that touches upon my argument yesterday as to Hillary Clinton's qualifications to become president.  Specifically the ascendancy to political office through family ties.  It makes a pretty good argument for the necessity and effectiveness of this approach for women historically.  So perhaps it can be argued that I ask too much of women at this moment in history.  

    But I don't buy that, I think that because of Hillary Clinton's age she has bought into same mindset which sees the only viable path to real political power for woman is through her husband or father and the strength of the historical legacy he has provided.  Perhaps that was the case in the past, but today I believe a woman can overcome the handicaps of their gender in the political sphere.  Perhaps if Hillary Clinton becomes president it will be easier for the next woman, but a victory that is not based on merit, will continue to leave doubt in the minds of men, especially men who are less progressive in their thinking regarding women.  It will only assist in the perpetuation of the myth of male superiority in leadership roles.

    I think that a woman can step forward in today's America, a woman that does not have to come across as cold and reject the feminist agenda, or at least a modified version of the feminist agenda, and still be a leader who can project strength, whilst simultaneously holding on to her femininity in the public eye and all those things that uniquely associated to her sex, which give women an advantage over men in their perceptions, things like motherhood.

    It's funny, because I suspect Hillary Clinton is such a woman, yet when she stands before a crowd of people giving a speech, or in a debate, she has learned to hide the qualities which I think would give her a distinct advantage over her male opponents, if she would only let us see them.

    In fact, I believe the the nation could desperately use a woman's touch in healing the divisions which exist within the American family.  Unfortunately, Hillary has been conditioned to reject such an approach in favor of the cold calculating Iron Lady image which has been so successful for women who have aspired to power in the past.

    Hillary Clinton is still the leader in this race, and I think if she could show the American people that she is still in touch with the part of her self that is uniquely woman, the kind of thing that no man can match, or perhaps even understand, then I think she could still take this race and be one of the best presidents we've ever had.  The problem is she's spent all these years conditioning herself to come across in a way that was the only path to power for a woman through the last century, but that time is over, especially in the eyes of many young people in America.  And I think this is why her age is a disadvantage, not because she is simply older, but because she still stuck in the female leadership mindset of the last century, a mindset that is a trap, a Catch-22 which leaves a woman in a continuing position of disadvantage when they go up against men for leadership positions.

    I would love to have a mature woman with years of experience and wisdom under her belt in charge of this country, but when it comes down to picking a leader for America, I will not allow the gender, race, age or even political affiliation to blind me to who is the best person for that job, and in this race for my money it's Barack Obama hands down.

     It Takes a Family (to Break a Glass Ceiling)

    [Those of us who think 43 male presidents in a row is quite enough, thank you, still sometimes question whether a woman whose greatest political move was her marriage deserves to be the first woman in the White House.]

    [The uncomfortable truth is that political nepotism has often served feminism's cause well.]

    [Like it or not, the road to female advancement often begins at the altar. History books are thick with examples of women who broke political barriers because their family connections afforded them the opportunity. ]

    [She clings to the political center like a life raft and rarely ventures from the shallow waters of establishment predictability.]

    [To be a strong, competent woman is to be something culturally unattractive, which probably says something about why few American women even aspire to political office. ]

    [No mother wants to tell her daughter that she can aspire to the presidency only if she snags the most gifted politician of her generation. But Hillary Clinton's rise to power, unsettling as it is, follows a time-tested pattern for the breaking of gender barriers.]

    [The great feminist promise of a Hillary Clinton presidency amounts to this: If we elect a political wife now, perhaps we won't have to later. ]

    you have been an ardent Obama supporter (none / 0) (#10)
    by Jeralyn on Sun Jan 06, 2008 at 01:44:43 PM EST
    from early on. You should note that in the comment. It's not like this is a new position for you.

    although I am new here (none / 0) (#11)
    by Judith on Sun Jan 06, 2008 at 01:49:53 PM EST
    I can spot the cultists.  They dont listen and they refuse to learn. Thank goodness I know some Obama people in real life or I would think they are all really slow.



    Oh I remember the cultist (none / 0) (#20)
    by Rojas on Sun Jan 06, 2008 at 02:39:19 PM EST
    and doing it for the children.
    How we killed them to save them and the hoisting of our flag over the burning corpses. I recall the circling of the wagons and the complete lack of accountability. It was a righteous thing to do.

    Seems to me a complete disconnect from reality, calling people cultist and claiming we need a clinton back in the Whitehouse to restore the constitution.


    you missed (none / 0) (#22)
    by Judith on Sun Jan 06, 2008 at 02:51:32 PM EST
    the boat on that one.  

    I meant the cultists here are obvious - again, they miss the point, refuse to listen, dont get it and get angry at others when they dont understand something and then come back and make an attack that has no relevance to what was said.

    It would be amusing if it wasnt such a waste of time to contend with.

    Poor Obama - when he cant make fantasy a reality for all their respective dreams will they all turn on him?


    In parting (none / 0) (#26)
    by Judith on Sun Jan 06, 2008 at 03:21:29 PM EST
    I think this should be my final post here.  

    I dont have any patience for this kind of thing so I really should remove myself.

    Jeralyn - many thanks.  And to a few of you who have made this fun and interesting the last couple of days - my sincerest best wishes for you and our country.

    I hope whoever wins is able to bring us to a better place fast - I now think that is Hillary and I will vote for her on super Tuesday.

    Barack, a fine man, is my second choice and I would not weep if he won.  

    Bye everybody!!!  


    And I thought I was thin=skinned. (none / 0) (#27)
    by oculus on Sun Jan 06, 2008 at 03:22:46 PM EST
    Don't leave now.  It is just getting interesting.

    No, please leave (none / 0) (#28)
    by DA in LA on Sun Jan 06, 2008 at 03:29:07 PM EST
    I find your contribution abhorrent.

    Don't you think that is a tad harsh? (none / 0) (#29)
    by oculus on Sun Jan 06, 2008 at 03:32:09 PM EST
    No, based on what (none / 0) (#30)
    by DA in LA on Sun Jan 06, 2008 at 03:34:29 PM EST
    I have witnessed since last night.  Not at all.

    Please advise re jgarza. (none / 0) (#31)
    by oculus on Sun Jan 06, 2008 at 03:45:13 PM EST
    I'll back you up there... (none / 0) (#44)
    by burnedoutdem on Sun Jan 06, 2008 at 06:29:11 PM EST
    tough (none / 0) (#54)
    by Judith on Sun Jan 06, 2008 at 07:19:35 PM EST
    suck it up.

    Occ - uou said (none / 0) (#53)
    by Judith on Sun Jan 06, 2008 at 07:19:10 PM EST
    just the right thing to get me to comment.

    I am not thin skinned - the idea that naybody here could get to me makes me laugh.  The whiney babies with poor reading skills were boring me and I figured I had much more productive things to do then translate. It gets tedious...but I will just ingore them in future.




    Speed reading is a good idea. (none / 0) (#56)
    by oculus on Sun Jan 06, 2008 at 07:22:55 PM EST
    actually (none / 0) (#58)
    by Judith on Sun Jan 06, 2008 at 07:34:37 PM EST
    just denying myself the pleasure of pointing out something is not to my ..um..taste is best.  I do have a verey sharp wit and the gentler souls arent up to it. C'est la vie.

    Actually, you may be the wiser one here. (none / 0) (#57)
    by oculus on Sun Jan 06, 2008 at 07:26:33 PM EST
    I have spent the entire day between here and TV coverage of what is happening in New Hampshire.  When will I read the Sunday NYT?

    what reading? (none / 0) (#59)
    by Judith on Sun Jan 06, 2008 at 07:35:42 PM EST
    I had work to do.  Always better to do a bit of income prodcucing activity.  I am such a Puritan on that one.

    At first (none / 0) (#12)
    by burnedoutdem on Sun Jan 06, 2008 at 01:50:51 PM EST
    I was annoyed with Clinton for not answering the question - she's as slippery as Bill when she disagrees with the premise of the question (in this case that she ever made a mistake).  I admire her gifts of redirection, but a straight answer would have been nice.  Richardson was funny, and Edwards gave the answer everyone was expecting him to give (if he said anything else, it would have been a bigger mistake than the mistake he cited).  

    I definitely agree that Obama's answer was the most disappointing.  It stinks having to answer last and face the tough choice following the other three to dodge the question or answer it.  Unfortunately, by clumsily dodging the question he just looked...I don't know...unprepared and awkward.

    Despite all of that, I find it troubling that Clinton is SO good a slipping away from a direct answer - makes you wonder how to tell when she's lying?  After Bush, I feel a little paranoid.

    Tendency not to commit (none / 0) (#14)
    by Natal on Sun Jan 06, 2008 at 02:10:54 PM EST
    I remember in one debate a young lady asked Hillary if she preferred diamonds or pearls. She answered "both" with a beaming smile. The tendency to be slippery and non-committal is in her basic make-up. If she just got out of this mode she'd be a runaway leader. Thankfully she avoided the put-down laugh last night -- it was a plus for her.

    I sincerely hope this will not be any (none / 0) (#15)
    by oculus on Sun Jan 06, 2008 at 02:13:02 PM EST
    voter's definitive moment.

    Obama avoided other questions (none / 0) (#13)
    by MarkL on Sun Jan 06, 2008 at 01:58:09 PM EST
    For instance, he had nothing substantive to say about Hillary's criticism of his changes of positions: nothing about the Patriot Act or War Funding.
    My take is that experienced voters will not like this in Obama, while the younger voters, and the older, indepedent voters, whom surveys show to be very shallow in their decision-making process, won't care.

    His debating is still weak though. Would that hurt him against a Republican? I don't know.

    maybe not against (none / 0) (#17)
    by Judith on Sun Jan 06, 2008 at 02:30:27 PM EST
    Romney, but I think McCain could take a solid bite out of him.  Not becuase I think McCain is right on issues, but because he would not treat the guy with kid gloves.

    Yes, McCain would be a special (none / 0) (#19)
    by MarkL on Sun Jan 06, 2008 at 02:37:37 PM EST
    problem for Obama, because they have somewhat similar messages (at least in the minds of the mush-minded middle).
    People might prefer to go with the old, established maverick over the young, less-tested maverick.

    I think you mean (none / 0) (#21)
    by DA in LA on Sun Jan 06, 2008 at 02:50:05 PM EST
    People might prefer to go with the old, old, old, old, established maverick over the young, less-tested maverick.

    LOL, yes.. but his mother makes him (none / 0) (#23)
    by MarkL on Sun Jan 06, 2008 at 02:51:49 PM EST
    look young:)

    no (none / 0) (#24)
    by Judith on Sun Jan 06, 2008 at 02:52:17 PM EST
    not what I said and not what I meant.

    John (none / 0) (#34)
    by RalphB on Sun Jan 06, 2008 at 04:42:01 PM EST
    McCain would eat Obama's lunch and then puke on him in any debate.  As an independent, I only hope that if the democrats nominate Obama, the republicans nominate McCain.  At least that way I can vote for someone I respect in McCain.

    Michelle Obama is speaking (none / 0) (#36)
    by oculus on Sun Jan 06, 2008 at 04:44:30 PM EST
    from her husband's campaign headquarters office in NH on C-Span.  She doesn't mince words and definitely talks about issues in a straightforward manner.  He should listen to her.

    You respect a man who's repeatedly caved (none / 0) (#38)
    by kovie on Sun Jan 06, 2008 at 05:02:28 PM EST
    to a man whom he clearly despises who smeared him repeatedly and viciously in 2000, on policy matters that he used to be strongly against, e.g. tax cuts for the rich, Medicare Part D, torture, etc.? I.e. you respect Senator Bear Hug?

    McCain was respectable in 2000 (none / 0) (#39)
    by DA in LA on Sun Jan 06, 2008 at 05:37:00 PM EST
    He is far from that now.  Me thinks someone is trolling.

    Respectable-seeming, perhaps (none / 0) (#46)
    by kovie on Sun Jan 06, 2008 at 06:40:36 PM EST
    Now he doesn't even have that. Woe to the politician who no longer has even the illusion of authenticity (especially when the lack of actual authenticity has never been seriously in question to those who've paid attention).

    Obama line (none / 0) (#25)
    by chemoelectric on Sun Jan 06, 2008 at 03:02:36 PM EST
    Lately Obama has been using the following line; I'm not sure what it means and I want to throw my TV remote at the screen to shut him up:

    We must move forwards, not backwards, upwards, not forwards, and always twirling, twirling towards freedom!

    Maybe he should stick with 'hope' and 'change'. (Gee, that sounds familiar, sort of 1992ish....)

    Oh my (none / 0) (#35)
    by RalphB on Sun Jan 06, 2008 at 04:43:15 PM EST
    Gawd, that's just too lame!

    I couldn't disagree more (none / 0) (#37)
    by kovie on Sun Jan 06, 2008 at 04:58:00 PM EST
    You say this:

    It why it has seemed to me all along Obama lacks substance as well as experience.

    As well as this:

    He comes across as all promises, no specifics.

    But then you say this:

    We shouldn't have to do hours of research on candidates to know where they stand.

    So you're criticizing him for SEEMING to lack "substance as well as experience" and being all about "promises, no specifics", but then admit that a few hours of research reveals that none of this is the case. I.e. you're criticizing him for what he APPEARS to be, not what he actually is, and complain that he doesn't make this easier to understand in a sound bite format.

    Seems to me that it's actually the shallow media environment in which all of these debates, sound bite-based campaigning, and so-called media analysis is taking place that you're actually having a problem with (and perhaps the candidates' decision to work with rather than against this process), than the candidates' actual positions on the issues and political experience.

    I.e. that they're not really as shallow as they might seem to be (well, on our side of the aisle at least). It's the process that's much more the problem here--and I suppose the candidates' inability and/or unwillingness to challenge it--than the candidates themselves, it seems to me.

    And I personally believe that one SHOULD have to do "hours of research on candidates [not limited to their web sites and PR materials] to know where they [actually] stand", as opposed to where they seem to or want one to think that they stand. We (hopefully) do this when we purchase cars, TVs, homes, etc. So it seems only proper that we should do this when we vote for candidates.

    I agree that it would be great if candidates got into meaningful policy details on what they stand for and intend to do as president when making public appearances. But the current campaign process leaves little room for that. And candidates who have tried to do this anyway have tended to lose, on both sides of the aisle--whatever you otherwise think of them. E.g. Paul, Dodd, Dukakis, Perot, Anderson, Gore, etc. The public either doesn't care for wonkish specifics, or the media believes that it doesn't, and actively works to prevent campaign discussions from focusing on them. This is the fault of every candidate, not just one or two. And most of all it's the fault of the process that both parties in concert with the media have settled on. It's not just Obama.

    Good point... (none / 0) (#45)
    by burnedoutdem on Sun Jan 06, 2008 at 06:37:59 PM EST
    ...if only we had a Consumers Reports for candidates - no ads, no biases, just the information all in one little magazine!

    Too bad governing is a little more nuanced and ideological and can't be "road tested" like a blender...


    This isn't supposed to be easy (none / 0) (#49)
    by kovie on Sun Jan 06, 2008 at 07:03:23 PM EST
    Nor should it be. It's not reasonable or prudent to expect there to be a one-stop-shopping source for getting detailed, accurate and unbiased information on all of the candidates' positions and history. No one should, and few people would, trust such a source. Sure, it would make life a lot easier for people. But it would also be open to subtle bias, outright exploitation, or vicious attack from all sides. Or, at least, in the attempt to be unbiased it would end up being all but useless.

    For the time being, we're likely stuck with this very imperfect system, which, in some ways, actually has some merits, in that people should take the initiative to do their own research if they want to be good citizens, which the current system forces them to do if they want to be meaningfully informed on the issues and the various candidates' stands on them (in both stated policy and past performance). Of course, the same system also encourages dishonest and worse than useless sound bite marketing precisely because most people can't or won't do this.

    I don't know what the solution might be, other than the development of a viable popular alternative to today's mostly horrible mass media (as opposed to the relatively niche blogs and smaller media outlets that we have today but which most voters don't read and likely have never heard of). I have a feeling that this is coming, though, enabled by emerging technologies such as IPTV, wireless broadband and increasingly more powerful wireless media devices.


    Knowing what the information means (none / 0) (#51)
    by burnedoutdem on Sun Jan 06, 2008 at 07:16:50 PM EST
    and where to find it is a good place to start.  It drives me bonkers when candidates try to oversimplify votes in congress to a pure yes or no, and audiences just accept this.  Sometimes amendments and riders and other details in a bill will influence a vote, but those nuggets of understanding are lost in, "he voted against _ so he's soft on crime," or "he voted for it here and against it here, so he must be a flip-flopper."  Audiences absorb this and just parrot the catchphrase without knowing the context of the vote.

    Maybe we're over reliant on secondary sources to get our information.  I had a politics teacher in high school who insisted we refer to bills and congressional records when writing our papers.  We learned where to go for the information and how to read it correctly which made it less intimidating.  Sure, most of the class hated it at the time, but we all benefited from the experience.  Now, alot of that information is online, and is so much easier to find now than it was then.

    Wow, was that ages ago...


    The difficulty in sifting through all this (none / 0) (#61)
    by kovie on Sun Jan 06, 2008 at 07:55:24 PM EST
    information, the unwillingness and/or inability of most people to do so properly, and the willingness and ability of bad faith agents to exploit this for their own selfish and dishonest ends is, of course, one of the inherent weaknesses of all democracies. The solution to which (at best partial, of course), is a better educated, motivated and civic-minded electorate (which I think would be helped by a progressive agenda), and a more diverse, ethical and sustantive media.

    I believe that both are coming.


    We can only *hope* (none / 0) (#62)
    by burnedoutdem on Sun Jan 06, 2008 at 08:52:36 PM EST
    How AUDACIOUS of you! (none / 0) (#73)
    by kovie on Sun Jan 06, 2008 at 11:07:13 PM EST
    Fired up? Ready to go? ;-)

    Something like that :) (none / 0) (#75)
    by burnedoutdem on Mon Jan 07, 2008 at 10:03:28 AM EST
    An observation (none / 0) (#40)
    by Alien Abductee on Sun Jan 06, 2008 at 05:39:09 PM EST
    from watching the debates with my teenaged daughter, who's highly intelligent but doesn't know from nuthin' about the policies and issues being discussed - she liked all the Democrats and thought they all came across like normal humane people in contrast to the Republicans (she hated Romney most of all for his constant smirk and attitude of superiority); and she couldn't understand what Hillary and Obama were talking about most of the time, whereas she completely understood John Edwards (or felt that she did), and therefore favored him. I wonder how many primary voters will be operating at this somewhat primitive level when it comes right down to it.

    clarity is not primitive (none / 0) (#43)
    by Evergreen on Sun Jan 06, 2008 at 06:27:44 PM EST
    I don't think that clear concise prose is primitive.   When I worked with a state government agency they wrote for a sixth grade level of understanding, which is where they thought most of our citizenry were.  Scarey huh?

    I find Edwards to be the most accurate when it comes to understanding what has gone wrong with America and hence the most apt to be able to fix it.  He can see the trees and the forest clearly.

    Clinton has been an enabler of America's demise.  She has bought into (or was bought by) corporate rule...and would make a good hack for them.  

    Obama is the unknown, able to make us swoon with his soaring rhetoric, but untested by the fire.   Although I think he might turn out to be good, I would prefer him to be VP this time around.

    So: Edwards reemains my first choice.  


    I think it's probably just his training (none / 0) (#47)
    by Alien Abductee on Sun Jan 06, 2008 at 06:46:21 PM EST
    and experience from speaking to juries. Can't go wrong with KISS and an appeal to emotion.

    Frankly, I'm surprised Obama is doing as well as he is. His speech is too grammatically complex for best impact when he's speaking off the cuff in interviews or debates, imo. Great speaker though when he has a prepared speech.


    I think that the reaction of (none / 0) (#48)
    by kovie on Sun Jan 06, 2008 at 06:50:41 PM EST
    relatively uninformed voters to the candidates will depend a lot on where their own political inclinations, "primitive" and inarticulate though they might be, stand (which in turn has a lot to do with one's age, class, race, ethnicity, location, profession, income, family background, etc.).

    People who tend to be culturally conservative will thus tend to migrate towards authoritarian types like Romney or Giuliani. People who mistrust and resent power will tend to migrate towards populist types like Edwards (or Paul if they're of a more libertarian bent). And people who just want everybody to get along and for things to get done will tend to migrate towards sunny types like Obama (or effective manager types like Bloomberg).

    Which makes me wonder, what kind of person migrates towards a wonkish type like Clinton?


    Maybe the equivalent (none / 0) (#50)
    by Alien Abductee on Sun Jan 06, 2008 at 07:11:46 PM EST
    of the authority-seeking Romney types, but within the Mommy Party?

    Personally, I thought she blew the boyz out of the water last night in terms of being competent presidential material. If only her apparent views as to what's possible weren't so circumscribed. She would call it being realistic and practical, I suppose. But who wants realistic and practical? People want ponies and hope. And why not? Vote for no ponies and you're guaranteed not to get them.


    Hilarious! (none / 0) (#52)
    by burnedoutdem on Sun Jan 06, 2008 at 07:18:46 PM EST
    Vote for no ponies and you're guaranteed not to get them.

    That's it in a nutshell!!