Sen. Clinton did not address the accusation that she fails to address issues. Her insinuation that 35 years in public life serves to make her stance on issues clear (and consistent?) didn't cut it.
A number of the candidates, including Barack Obama, suggested that the surge strategy is failing. Obama acknowledged some improvement in the security situation, but asserted that the political situation has not changed (is he paying attention?) and on that basis called for withdrawal of U.S. troops. This group of candidates is ready to wrest defeat from the jaws of victory.
John Edwards joined others in calling NAFTA a failure, talking about the loss of jobs that occurred as a result. Isn't he aware that agreements like NAFTA increase the buying power of Americans across the board? I get no hint of that type of realization from him. Sen. Dodd gave the closest approximation of sanity on trade issues.
Sen. Clinton, addressing her "boy's club" remarks and the suggestion that she was playing the gender card, took a page from hubby's book, saying "I'm not exploiting anything at all."
Depends on what "exploiting" is, I suppose. Her Oct. 31 cackle came out when Wolf Blitzer engaged in word play on the boy's club phrase.
I must have heard this wrong, but it sounded like Edwards jumped at the chance to follow Hillary on the gender issue (Paul Shanklin, anyone?). And again, maybe I heard it wrong, but it sounded like Edwards addressed a male soldier (home from a third Iraq deployment) with "many women like you." I was blinking my eyes in disbelief during this segment, having difficulty believing I'd heard rightly. Edwards finished with a strong statement in favor of withdrawal, which I marked down in my notes as "standing up for spinelessness."
Bill Richardson addressed a question from the audience regarding disparity in pay between private security companies and U.S. soldiers. Richardson showed his fiscal restraint by calling for increased pay for U.S. soldiers across the board as well as calling for a boost in the size of our armed forces. The cameras showed the face of the person who asked the question after he finished with that part of the response. A look of doubt crossed her face on that one.
Barack Obama said he would save Social Security by keeping Bush from raiding the Soc. Sec. trust fund to get money for the war. Come on, Sen. Obama. You know that the Congress controls the purse strings, and you know that the Congress doesn't bother keeping track of which expense uses funds borrowed from Social Security. Obama's other great idea was to remove the cap on Soc. Sec. payroll taxes. Clinton criticized him for advocating a tax hike after that one, then she did her imitation of Internet spelling police by correcting a misstatement by Obama (he twice called the payroll tax increase a tax cut).
Clinton could have pulled that off without sounding petty, in my opinion, but she didn't do it.
Almost forgot: Obama had a third great idea. He thinks that preventative medicine saves on Medicare expenses. President Bush was blowing the same horn when he stumped for his Medicare prescription drug plan. I strongly doubt that it works that way. The longer people stay alive, the more medical expenses they incur. Die of a heart attack at 60 and you might save the government the expense of two hip replacements when you hit your 70s. I'm certainly not recommending euthanasia for sexagenarians; I'm just pointing out that it doesn't work that way in terms of economics. Both Obama and Bush are almost certainly wrong on this point.
My last notes concern Supreme Court nominations. Some of the nominees explicitly favored a Roe v. Wade litmus test (Richardson, if I remember correctly). Most said they'd insist on a recognition of the right to privacy, a some of those (including Clinton) went on to intimate that recognition of the right to privacy led to a recognition of the legitimacy of Roe. That's a load of hooey. One of President Bill Clinton's Supreme Court nominees (Ginsberg, if I remember correctly) questioned Roe's basis in the right to privacy, advocating an alternative basis in the right to self-defense.
The reasoning of Roe v. Wade is an embarrassment to those who take constitutional law seriously, even to many scholars who heartily support the outcome of the case. As John Hart Ely, former dean of Stanford Law School and a supporter of abortion rights, has written, Roe "is not constitutional law and gives almost no sense of an obligation to try to be."
This is a terrible group of candidates, based on their answers to the questions. The best hope is that they know good policy but lie through their teeth about what they'd do just to capture the nomination.
Kucinich was a joke again, but that isn't news.