Monday, June 4, 2007

The Second Debate

The most reasonable and also most obvious remarks coming out of last night’s (June 3) debate were made by Dennis Kucinich: that the way to stop the war is to stop funding it NOW; and that the best and least expensive way to provide universal health insurance is to adopt a not-for-profit, single-payer plan. The most remarkable thing is that he was able to get a word in edgewise. The crack team of cartoon character pundits that CNN deployed to New Hampshire was determined to marginalize candidates they deemed marginal – Kucinich, above all. [Being colorful, Mike Gravel got more attention.] They largely succeeded. On the other hand, it could have been worse. Wolff Blitzer did at least force the candidates to answer the questions posed to them.

Also, news reports this morning accurately reflect the main “drama” of last night’s debate – that John Edwards (politely) castigated Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton for not “showing leadership” when Senate Democrats capitulated to Bush on war funding. [Edwards was less critical of Chris Dodd, as he should have been; the other Senatorial candidate, Joe Biden, didn’t even vote against funding the war himself.] Of course, what Edwards said was right, as far as it goes. The real problem is that Obama probably and Clinton certainly are Pelosiites – corporate neo-liberals, not shy of serving their masters by projecting American military power, who’ve adapted to the rising tide of anti-war sentiment brought on by more than six years of Bush administration incompetence. Pelosiites say one thing and do the other. For opportunistic reasons, if need be (as in the primary elections), they will even vote one way, and then facilitate the opposite outcome. [For a fuller account, see “Pelosiism: the Highest Stage of Clintonism,” entry for May 28.] The question is: when it comes down to it, is Edwards a Pelosiite too? His positions on trade and poverty – non-subjects in last night’s debate – suggest otherwise. On the other hand, the principal avatar of Clintonism – and therefore Pelosiism - today did say that, among all the Democratic candidates, there are only “minor shades of difference.” She might be right.

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