All right! This is going to be a long one. Two debates! One night! Back to back rhetorical action. Time for a long running diary.
(In case you’re wondering, it’s an idea I’m stealing from Bill Simmons, the Sports Guy. He does it usually for sports events and NBA drafts etc, but I've chosen to do one to political debates, watching the debate and noting my feelings and observations as I go.)
Tonight! ABC news presents two presidential debates back to back! (Broadcast Saturday evening January 5th.) Three plus hours of political fun! So let's get to it shall we?
Here we go!
Waiting for this thing to begin. The Stupid Comcast DVR said it would be on at 6pm PST, but of course it lied. News first that I’m not really watching. Well, at least this debate won’t be tape delayed on C-SPAN 2. It’s on an actual network. Let’s just hope ABC doesn’t kick it to the Disney Channel. (Man I hate media consolidation. Prediction, no one will be asked about media consolidation tonight.)
While I’m waiting here’s a better idea than this double header format, which is on opposite playoff football, and the Huskies-Cougars Basketball game to ensure top viewership. Why not just put all the candidates up there at once? Get everyone up there. No holds barred. No stinking moderator for cripes sake. Just toss a coin or something to determine who gets to throw out the first asinine comment, and go from there. Wouldn’t that be way cooler? Then perhaps when Fred Thompson says something like “40% of Americans pay no income tax” somebody from the other side of the aisle would punch him, or at least correct him. But maybe they’d punch him. That’d be great.
I’m taking this unexpected delay to figure out how to use the date and time function in Microsoft word. Is there a way to do that without using the pull-down menu? Somebody help me out here. I also have a really bad feeling that when I cut and paste this into my blog none of them will show up. I used to be so computer literate. What happened?
So just a heads up: Since the Washington-Washington State game is on at the same time, I’ll be watching both events simultaneously. Yes, I have two TV’s sitting next to each other and I’m watching both at once. People make fun of me for this, but totally out of jealousy.
Anyway, if I type something like “Hillary Clinton drains a three pointer,” I hope you understand. Go Huskies!
OK! Here we go! Charlie Gibson in the house! Big montage at the open which tries to make politics look exciting, and... we’re LIVE, er, no… recorded earlier. Oh well. Such is life on the West Coast of Western Civilization.
Repubs win the coin toss and go first.
Facebook is a sponsor this time. Must every debate be sponsored by an annoying web site?
Diane Sawyer and George Steffi-Grafalis are trying to hype this like a sports event. Dudes, that’s my job.
What? Wyoming had a caucus today? Really? Damn! I follow politics closely, yet nobody mentioned this. Man, you gotta feel like chopped liver if you’re a Wyomian right now. Iowa gets all day all night coverage and Wyoming gets an “oh by the way.” (Mitt Romney won, so perhaps they are chopped liver…)
OK, off to a prerecorded montage of a bunch of white people and what they want discussed. We only have 90 minutes to get to know 6 candidates, why are we killing time with this?
Uh Oh. My wife just opened a bottle of wine. This could get ugly. Let me know if I’m slurring. (New Year’s resolution to not drink lasts… 5 days.)
Hey they let the candidates sit! I thought to be a good president you have to stand. Sorry FDR!
Uh oh. First question mentions W Bush. Didn’t ABC get the RNC memo? Ixnay on the Esidentpray!
Huckabee says “When I said bad things about foreign policy, that’s when I was just some crackpot from Arkansas. Now that I’m a frontrunner, I’ll tow the party line.” He then piles on to Rumsfeld. Late hit penalty!
Fred Thompson actually pauses between September and 11 “September… uh eleven…”You will not catch Giuliani making that mistake.
And as if on cue, Rudy chimes in and says, “Hey, I was mayor on 9-11!”
I have to say that a part of me roots for Rudy because he lisps. If I didn’t have so much hair I could almost work up an impersonation of him.
The new question is “Can we invade any country preemptively whenever we feel like?"
McCain gives props to Bush and piles onto Rumsfeld for another 15-yard penalty. What’s with the sucking up to W? Trying to get those 3 voters who still like him?
Ron Paul chimes in on preemptive war. When Libertarians are your voice of reason, your party is in big trouble. Tonight I think Ron Paul will be the only person taking a contrary position on any issue. It’s sort of like 5 on one.
Mitt (Wyoming’s big winner) wins the suck up to Bush voters contest. He got a haircut since Iowa. I notice these things. He “casually” mentions the Prime Minister of Spain. Namedropper!
Thompson jumps on the preemption bandwagon. Is there any country these guys wouldn’t invade?
Rudy helps drum up the fear. What’s the over-under on the number of times he says Islamic Terrorism?” He’s already at 3.
Mitt interrupts Ron Paul and a bit of a catfight begins. Mitt name-drops a terrorist’s name. Clearly his strategy is to sound smart by pronouncing names correctly.
Huckabee is finally forced to speak by the moderator. He’s savvy. He knows that in the land of crazy talk, he who talks least looks the sanest.
Great catfight going on now about whether or not Mitt can read.
Oh man! It’s getting good now! Huck and Mitt are going toe to toe! There’s real bitterness there.
Rudy chimes in with two more “Islamic Terrorist” mentions. Ron Paul is getting gang-banged just for suggesting that our foreign policy isn’t on the up and up.
Charlie Gibson admits that he made promises to not do certain things to the RNC. But he dares to defy them by… showing a video clip? Nice backbone Chuck.
He asks, or rather has President Bush sort of ask via some old press conference, if candidates should care about opinion polls.
Here’s a fun debate drinking game that McCain reminded me of. Drink whenever you hear a candidate say “The Greatest country on the face of the earth.” As the voice of the American People, let me say sir that I know you’re blowing smoke up my ass, but it is nice and warm, so please continue….
Anyway, he was asked about opinion polls, and I have no idea what question he answered.
Mitt also decides to give his stump speech when asked about opinion polls.
Mitt hits a three! No wait, that was the Huskies. 15-10 dogs!
Rudy mentions his book, and Ronald Reagan in the same sentence. “I’m smart and a pseudo-cowboy!” Um, what about opinion polls? Opinion polls? Flip flopping anyone? YOU WERE ASKED A DAMNED QUESTION!
Charlie points out that no one answered the question then puts together an impromptu attack ad on each candidate and does remarkably well.
Two more Reagan mentions for Giuliani.
Huck is going for and will get the Bush voter. Here’s what he just did. He quoted the constitution and gave a little (skewed) history lesson, AS IF EVERYONE SHOULDN”T ALREADY KNOW ALL THAT CRAP. This is how Bush does it. He explains every little thing as if nobody ever took a civics or American history class. “It’s my job as president, to approve or…'veto' bills after congress passes them…heh heh." This guarantees the votes of those 25 percent of Americans who have never taken high school prerequisites, and it’s a sure way to win the Republican nomination.
“Gee, thanks for reading the Constitution for me Huck! I’d read it myself, but it’s like sooooooo long!” We’re doomed.
Second wife shot of the night. Huck’s wife looks fittingly like Aunt Bee. Terrible outfit there. Do we really want Minnie Pearl to be first lady?
Ron Paul is looking bad here. This isn’t his format. He’s saying stuff to try to get applause and it ain’t coming. He looks frazzled.
And we’re on to health care. An ABC news taped report asks the question because, um, I guess Charlie Gibson needed a break half an hour in?
Huskies up three at the half.
Rudy says we have the best health care system in the world, meaning of course that HE has the best health care system in the world.
Uh oh. Charlie Gibson is doing MATH! Not fair. He ripped apart tax cuts for health care suggested by the candidates. Is it just me, or is Charlie Gibson totally winning this debate?
McCain just took a cheap shot at Canada. Honestly, Canada? Gonna go after widows and orphans next?
Mitt takes the first cheap shot at Hillary. That Bitch! She wants us to be insured!
Ron Paul suggests that we outsource the health care crisis to India. Or something like that. OK, idealistic college kids. He wants to end the war and that’s great, but let’s not forget that he’s crazy OK?
Fred says if we insure everyone, we’ll also sacrifice care. OK, if you’re getting NO care, how can that be sacrificed again? Fred’s a freakin’ ass.
Mitt is the whipping boy for everyone’s jokes tonight. “Listen to the crazy man talk about the cost of health care.”
Mitt just put the smack down on Fred for pretending to know more about Massachusetts Health care than he does. Most presidential he’s looked.
Um, gentlemen, the word you’re avoiding is POOR! Some people are too POOR to get health care insurance. Next time you want to say Ronald Reagan, try saying “poor.” Expand your vocabulary a little.
Huck’s health care plan, “Don’t get sick.” As president, he will keep everyone from getting sick.
Thought we were moving on, but Charlie Gibson decided to score more points on his opponents on health care. He’s getting my vote. He clearly knows more about this issue than any of the candidates and he can do the math. I see a groundswell of support for him. He just might win this thing.
McCain finally gets onto solid footing here talking about the pharmaceutical companies and reform. He needs to learn to always make his answers about reform and he’d get somewhere.
Never afraid to stand up for the big guy, Mitt comes to the defense of the pharmaceutical companies.
First commercial break. Why would you advertise during this? Who the heck do you think is watching? There are sports on for cripes sake. You’d be better off sponsoring this blog. (And that could be made to happen easily… Let’s talk…)
And we’re back.
McCain’s asked about immigration. Ah, Republicans on immigration! Let the hate fest begin. McCain actually refers to undocumented aliens as “God’s Children.” That’s as close as a Republican will ever get to calling someone a “Human Being.”
Mitt piles on the hate fest. “You gave up your humanity by not waiting in line for entry to this country!”
Rudy tries to do his best Duncan Hunter impersonation. Or was that Tancredo? I’m still confused.
You know, a lot of effort has been put forth here talking about how these candidates change their positions on the issues and nobody points out that the real problem is that they almost invariably change their positions to WORSE positions.
Here’s something I love about debates. Mitt just used the word “Senator” with that tone that makes it an insult. “You know that, Senator!” That’s one good thing about being a comedian. How stupid would someone sound saying “And you should know that, Comedian!”
Catfight on immigration! “You actually LIKE these people!” “No I don’t!” “Why don’t you kiss illegal aliens if you love them so much…” My god, Huck is so smart to just let these guys rip each other wide open on this issue of paramount importance to New Hampshire…
Rudy chimes in with two more Ronald Reagans. Is Rudy running, or just campaigning for Ron? Oh, and two more Double R’s for RG. He is totally winning the RR mention-off.
OK, bad drinking game. When Fred says um, uh, or uuuuuuuhm, take a drink. You’d pass out in two minutes and miss the rest of this debate. Oh wait, that makes it a GOOD drinking game…
The immigration catfight continues. Each person trying to show that their policy wasn’t as reasonable or workable as others might make it out to be.
Charlie Gibson is SMART! He picked up on Huck’s silence and forced him into the fray.
Huck almost steals the issue with a brief, coherent answer, but…. nope. He killed it.
Ron Paul reminds us that in our rush to be paranoid about illegal immigration, we’re forgetting to be paranoid about national ID cards. Thanks Ron. You’re no Alan Keyes, but you’re keeping me awake.
New question: Hey, you guys hate Hillary, but you might have to hate Barak Obama! Do you have any hatred left over?
Mitt: Sure do! And I want to debate him on change! Oh, good strategy for the ruling party…
Fred: I don’t know what Obama’s positions are, but I’m sure they’re very liberal…. uh…um…uh… But what the country really needs uh, um is my stump speech…um… uh.
McCain rips on Mitt the way I just did.
Damn. There have been like 6 straight three pointers in the UW/WSU game. All knotted up. Oh, yeah, I’m supposed to listen to John McCain rip on Barak Obama...
See, why is Rudy Giuliani allowed to rip on someone who isn’t there to defend himself? My idea at the outset of having them all grouped together is way better than this format. Of course, Charlie Gibson would win….
OK. Here we go. New Topic: Gas prices. Please tell us in less than two minutes how the free market is not responsible for high gas prices, and how the free market will somehow bring them down again.
Ron Paul makes a great point of how the Iraq war has quadrupled the price of oil. The problem with being a conspiracy theorist is that when you do talk sense, nobody listens.
McCain didn’t really answer the question but sounded sane, so points there.
Fred is a prick. He doesn’t know what he’s talking about and covers that up by being mean. Uh… ramble ramble. Dick. Remember when it was a mystery that this guy didn’t lead all the polls as soon as he declared? Mystery solved.
Rudy sounded sane on alternative fuels. Actually, these guys all are talking about oil independence. The industry that bankrolls them has coached them well. (Wow, that was a cheap shot worthy of Fred Thompson!)
And we’re done! Now Charlie Gibson, in the most presidential act of the night, asks all the candidates, Republican and Democrat to join on the stage and play nice. Sort of like my idea, only silent. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the winner of tonight’s debate and next president of the United States of America, Charles Gibson!
Time for a break as we wait for the audience to be reshuffled. God forbid Republicans hear Democrat’s ideas, or vice-versa. But they all shook hands! God bless America. We’re screwed.
All right. Had to take a break and pause the action, so the times won’t really match up anymore, but now my daughter’s in bed, my wife’s in the tub, my son is… well I’m sure he’s fending for himself somewhere, and the Huskies game is sadly over. A heck of a game but a Husky loss. It hurts, but I’ll go on. Let’s get back to the carnage.
Great. We get coverage of the Spin Room. What possible good is served by this? Everyone agrees that no good ever comes out of these paid consultants telling journalists who won a debate that we just saw, so why this lameness? I’m going to skip it out of principal.
I mean, do the locker room interviews after football games change the outcome? Shame on you ABC news and all the other media outlets for forcing this crap down our throats.
My DVR says this will go until 10pm. It’s already 9pm and we don’t have the Dems started.
George and Diane have to make sure to give us the poll numbers going in. Thanks guys. Don’t be afraid to take time away from listening to the candidates to tell us who is going to win.
Good gossip though about Hill being mad at Richardson for throwing support to Obama to stay in the race. Why don’t they give us more nuggets like that, and not the silly numbers?
Charlie talks about how he’s going to stay out of the way of the candidates. No! You already won one debate tonight Charlie! Go for two!
We start the Dems with NUCLEAR Terrorism. The implication here is that Dems are soft on nuclear terrorism. Who isn’t?
Obama gets asked, “Will you invade Pakistan?” Who dreams up these questions? No wonder we’re in two wars at once. The media is obsessed!
Obama replies, "sure, why not?"
Man, he has NO voice left. Maybe he was at today’s Seahawk game.
To his credit, he’s not talking about invading Pakistan, just going in and getting Bin Laden.
Now Edwards says he’d find Bin Laden and get him. What, do these guys think that will play favorably with Democrats? Don’t democrats LOVE bin Laden? Bad political strategy IMO.
(Oh, and in case you didn’t notice, I was being SARCASTIC!)
Richardson goes before Hillary? Man, how the mighty have fallen…
Bill (I’m gonna start using first names now. It’s easier to type) looks like he’s lost a little weight and either got some tanning done in Iowa or New Hampshire, or has some pancake makeup on. Judging that his face doesn’t move when he does, I’m thinkin’ make up.
Is it me, or were Republicans asked about real things and Dems are being asked hypotheticals? I guess I shouldn’t judge one question in. Hey folks, I’m trying to be unbiased, but it’s hard…
Hillary does better sitting down. It’s like she’s on a talk show, which she’s done a billion times. I think this format may help her a lot.
Hill scores some points by mentioning the fragility of the India situation vis a vis Pakistan. Sounding wonkish is good strategy with Dems.
Richardson’s making some great points now, but since he has no chance to win, I’m wondering what to put on my second TV. This is a problem after 9pm or so when all the sports events are over. I need something that I can mute so as not to distract, but will still give me eye candy when bored. Usually go with SportsCenter here.
OK. I get to be the paranoid guy now.
The question is “After a nuclear bomb goes off in America, what will you wish you had done, and what will you do?” Thanks liberal media! The implication here being that, if there’s a democrat in office, of course we’ll have to deal with this kind of thing. If a Democrat’s in office, everybody will be nuking us! Second hypothetical question of the debate. Are we ever gonna talk about REAL things, and stop debating episodes of “24?”
The answers here go something to the effect of “If we were hit we will have wished we would have had would have done something we then would not have had done and had we done what I wished we had done, then we will have would have done something I would have and will have done.” Can we have a whole debate on a subjective level? This is like a Marvel “What if” comic.
Next question: “What if Superman and Spiderman had a fight? Who would win?” (Sad personal note here. I totally had that comic book as a kid, and it would be worth the GDP of a small country today, but it got ripped and my Mom threw it away. Bummer.)
Oh, oops, there’s a debate on!
Wait wait wait. I gotta pause the DVR Here. ABC goes to all this effort to show a tape of a story and question about Social Security and Medicare and America’s aging, then Charlie just says, “Good stuff and I hope we get to it, but I want to ask Hillary what dirt she thinks might get dug up about Obama.” What the hell? Are you just trying to start a catfight Charlie? Not very presidential of you….
So now Hillary winds into an attack on Obama for flip flopping on single-payer health care. Who gives a hairy rat about flip-flopping? Honestly? Do we, the American people ever get mad at a candidate for listening to us? God, it’s a democracy! Shouldn’t leaders listen to the American people once in a while? Doesn’t democracy give the masses some credit for having half a brain? Man, I’m tired of this.
We’re still talking about who did and didn’t flip-flop and Edwards hasn’t spoken yet. Ug.
Edwards is taking notes from Huckabee and staying out, then coming in as the nice guy. God, if he and Huck both win, it will be such a warm fuzzy general campaign perhaps we’ll all start coughing up fur balls.
OK, this may sound risqué, but it’s shaping up to be 2 on 1 and Hillary is... OK, that’s too risqué. But Edwards did a nice job of smiling while digging Hillary to make the B-word side really come out of her. These candidates are tired, and there might be some actual emotions coming through in this thing.
Bill makes a joke about hostage negotiations being more civil than this debate. Good laugh and a nice icebreaker, but things really weren’t that bad. Leave the comedy to the viable candidates Bill.
Yeah, It’s Edwards and Obama against Hillary. Smart triangulation. This is what makes the primaries fascinating. The scheming and alliances.
And now on to Iraq. Finally something real to talk about. Oh wait. They said that the surge is working and everything is hunky dory now. We’re still in fantasyland.
Bill’s talking, so I’ll give my own personal solution to Iraq. Easy. Let the Iraqi people vote on whether US forces stay or leave! Whatever they say, we do! Why can’t it just be that simple? I mean, do we believe in democracy or don’t we? What, they might not vote the way we want them to? I know I’m an idealist, but won’t we gain some respect worldwide for actually believing in something if we do that? Oh well. Let’s hear the “real” solutions…
Bill scores some points by saying he’d pull the troops out fastest. But does he really think that he’s going to get all that anti-war under-25 first-time voter vote? I love this about American politics. The guys who are getting out-polled by margin of error and still think they have a chance.
We’re back from commercial and into the “last half” of the 4 debate halves.
And now some questions from the guy who asked questions earlier, and nobody still knows who he is. He’s bald.
He asks the inside-baseball question to Hillary about why people don’t like her. Good god.
She comes back nicely with a joke. Well played. Then she very subtly reminds us that we liked Bush too. Nice crafty politics.
Then she gets silly saying “Just being a woman means I’m all about change.” She gets applause for that. Come on people. Obama’s not saying to vote for him because he’s black. Someone should call her on that.
Obama makes a great joke about “Flipping back and forth between the Republican debate and football.” This guy’s a natural. Makes a joke, gets out the male vote, and rips the Reps.
Bill is asked about “Executive experience” and goes on his tiresome diatribe about “Standing down the North Koreans” and blah blah blah. You’re governor of Freakin’ New Mexico for Chrissakes! Get over yourself! What, did Communists try to take over the Taos music festival? Put a sock in it Bill. If you are doing "hostage negotiations" as Governor of New Mexico, well... You should not be doing hostage negotiations as Governor of New Mexico...
Edwards gets to talk and gives his lobbyist/my Dad worked in the mill speech. I like this guy a lot, but I’m getting tired of hearing about his Dad’s miserable job.
Quick cutaway to the audience of Edwards (John’s) wife. Hey, where’s Papa Clinton btw? Not in the house tonight?
All right. It’s time to pick a candidate already. Charlie just pointed out a loophole in the last lobby reform bill that allows a congressman to be bought a dinner if he stands up to eat it. Really? Is that true? And how did Charlie Gibson find that out? Policy wog and a half our Charlie Gibson! Anyway, we've truly devolved into the minutia if that's really what we're going to spend the next 5 minutes on.
Hillary just asked for a “Reality check.” About an hour late Hill. Then she called Obama a lobbyist.
Man, I really don’t like Charlie Gibson’s vice presidential candidate the bald guy. He’s just kind of a jerk. He works in radio. Go figure.
Charlie’s tired. He just made cynical comments about how “Washington is set up to resist change.” Yeah sure Charlie. It’s exactly the same as it was 200 years ago. You still have my vote Chuck, but let’s keep it upbeat.
Oh, don’t bring cynicism into Obama’s strike zone… Man, he just turned that right around, knocked it out of the park and made us all sing along. He even used the term “cynical” in his response. He’s saying what I’m thinking. That’ll probably hurt him.
Bill’s up. Why is the fat man still talking?
Man, if it winds up McCain vs. Edwards, who will the lobbyists back? That would be a win-win for America. It will of course never be allowed to happen.
I’m flagging now. I’ll confess I was just zoning out and watching SportsCenter. Looks like that Jags game was pretty awesome, too bad I missed it to watch and blog this. How does that apply to the carbon tax, (which is the thing that’s never going to happen that the candidates are talking about now)? Well, it’s all about sacrifice. I sacrificed a Saturday night and half of an NFL playoff game to blog this debate, and I think that entitles me to drive an SUV. Anyway, let’s get back to this.
What the heck is the next question? Housing crisis, Energy and jobs? Actually I don’t think there is a question. Man, the topics chosen for these debates don’t make sense to me when I’m awake and alert. How am I supposed to decipher this after watching a mind-numbing 2 and a half hours?
Anyway, Charlie Gibson loses the college professor vote at this college by wildly exaggerating their salaries, proving that perhaps he’s not quite so in touch with the American people as we might think. Big boos, then laughs.
Finally a real issue with real math is asked that real candidates can talk about. They now get two minutes to explain and fix income disparity in America.
Edwards mentions college kids, and they cut away to the most bored looking sophomores I’ve ever seen. Wake up people! You owe 9 trillion freakin’ dollars, not to mention your student loans. Did I mention that we’re doomed?
SportsCenter is talking about College football now, so let me just take this chance to say that the BCS is a joke and I won’t be watching the national championship game.
Oh yeah, debate.
The bald VP candidate guy is going to spread more of his dirt, this time on Richardson. More hypotheticals about IF small business owners HAPPEN to fit the upper bracket AND they lay people off… If if if. It’s a stupid question, and Bill doesn’t answer it.
Last question: Is there anything you’ve said in one of the 642 debates that you wish you hadn’t said? (Anyone who says yes will quickly be labeled a flip-flopper)
Another audience cutaway. Hey! Chelsea in the house! (In other words, Bill C.’s not there.)
Bill R can actually think of something. Apparently he said he admired a judge who was against Roe v. Wade. And you’re polling at 2 percent why Bill?
John apologizes for insulting Hillary’s jacket in a previous debate. Finally a weary nation can move on!
Barak gets the last line of the debate and just tries to remind America in his subtle way that all the Republican candidates are total dipwads.
And we’re out! I made it! Now they’re rehashing everything and I’m sure we’re going to take a stroll through the spin room. If you think I’m sticking around and blogging that, you’re crazy.
Wow. 12 pages. If you stayed through and read this whole thing, you have even more stamina than me.
(PS: We’re doomed.)
Next week, I'll upload a nice non-political song. Promise.