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Democratic Debate Wrapup: A Tame Affair

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Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) and Barack Obama (Ill.) found wide swaths of agreement on a variety of issues in tonight's Democratic debate in Los Angeles, seemingly content to stick closely to their stump speeches and take no major risks in advance of Super Tuesday.

When the candidates did differ, they aired their disagreements politely. On health care, Clinton and Obama agreed to disagree. Clinton said it was necessary to propose universal health care to avoid being "nibbled to death" by Congress while Obama insisted that the problem with the current system is not availability but rather cost.

On immigration, Obama offered a slight jab at Clinton -- noting that she had changed her position on whether or not illegal immigrants should be allowed to have driver' licenses -- but quickly added that he made that point to "underscore the fact that this is a difficult political issue."

On Iraq, the candidates largely talked around each other, with Clinton making the case that her experience best equipped her to lead the U.S. out of the war and downplaying her vote for the 2002 use-of-force resolution that allowed President Bush to invade Iraq. Obama, who had opposed the war from the start, insisted that the key was not experience but judgment. "It is important to be right on day one," he said.

The tenor of the debate offered a marked contrast to the last showdown between these candidates in South Carolina, where Obama and Clinton engaged in a series of heated exchanges that occasionally strayed into the dangerous territory of personal attack.

Perhaps chastened by the negative reaction from the tone of that debate, Clinton and Obama both sought to claim the high ground tonight.

The comity of the event at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood was a sign that both Obama and Clinton feel comfortable with where they stand heading into Super Tuesday next week when 22 states are set to cast ballots.

Obama entered the debate with a surge of momentum thanks to the endorsement of Sen. Ted Kennedy (Mass.) earlier this week and recent national polling that shows him closing the gap with Clinton.

Clinton remains in a strong position in several delegate treasure troves including California, New York and New Jersey and has important advantages in a number of states set to vote on Feb.5, including support from labor and Hispanics and networks of supporters left over from her husband's two terms as president.

What tonight's debate did was clearly frame the choice offered the voters on Super Tuesday.

Clinton made an argument for her experience as senator and former first lady -- that she alone, because of her experience in Washington, is equipped to handle the difficult challenges facing the next president "on day one."

Obama's pitch is that he is a transformational figure who can break the partisan deadlock that has gripped the capital over the past several decades. "I respect Senator Clinton's record," Obama said at one point. "I think it is a terrific record. I believe the skills I have are the ones needed right now to move the country forward."

The choice is clear. What choice the voters will make remains to be seen.

By Chris Cillizza  |  January 31, 2008; 11:07 PM ET
Categories:  Eye on 2008  
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Next: The Line on Running Mates

Comments

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Posted by: ykrg yrthce | April 16, 2008 9:27 AM | Report abuse

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Posted by: ykrg yrthce | April 16, 2008 9:25 AM | Report abuse

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Posted by: ykrg yrthce | April 16, 2008 9:23 AM | Report abuse

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Posted by: ykrg yrthce | April 16, 2008 9:21 AM | Report abuse

iowatreasures wrote:"Because of Obama's association with Rezko, he has become a millionaire, and lives in a 1.6 million dollar house in Illinois."

This post is a good start, but you have to make clear what Rezko did for Obama two years ago when he was elected to the Senate. All the stuff about campaign contributions is vague and fluffy. Doesn't mean anything.

Rezko donated to a wide range of politicians, including Bush, but not to the Clintons. Not that that's particularly important, because bad contributions are identified all the time and given away, but because the picture with the Clintons is from the Chicago Democratic Convention and not from being close to the Clintons, which is important.

No, what you have to make crystal clear to people is that when Obama was voted to the Senate, he wanted to buy an expensive house in Chicago that he couldn't afford. The house he paid 1.65 million for, which was in ballpark of an earlier book advance, so that's not an issue. It's an adjoining $625,000 piece of property that's the issue. Obama asked Rezko to help him out, and Rezko bought the property, which allowed Obama to buy the house next to it for $300,000 less than the 1.95 million price. That $300,000 alone is serious money, but it is positioned as a "discount" while Rezko paid full price (or possibly picked it up for Obama with property purchase - a $625,000 parcel next to a 1.65 million mansion is a seriously expensive piece of land - seems disproportionate to me).

Now on to way worse stuff. The property was in Rezko's name (his wife's name), but just sitting there. I read quite a bit night beofre last on it, and will try to finish figuring this out this weekend. But from posts on the news sites investigating this, ABC and the Chicago papers, one person said the property has no access from the street and that Obama pays for landscaping because no one else would be able to get to it. But I also saw one reference that it was in front of his house, so I don't know yet.

But what is clear is that Obamna wanted a large mansion and grounds that cost approximately 2.5 million, and he went to his long time business associate Rezko - at least I would describe a 17 year association of carrying the legal and political load for a professional con job of milking taxpayers for tens of millions of dollars for renovating apartment buildings for the poor - and doing such a poor job of it as you skim off everything for you and your cronies that little was left to do any constuction. Heck, Rezko even quit paying the heat but at the same time gave $1,000 to Obama who was the state rep for the district containing these poor freezing people, people who surely pleaded with Obama's office for help - but it is to this long term crook relationship financier of his state and Senate runs that he went to to buy his backyard for him.

Surely that would have been bad enough, but Rezko had also just been publically indicted by the Federal government. But Obama wanted his %625,000 backyard, and who else did he have chits on when it came time to milk someone down but good.

So the property was sitting there, essentially part of Obama's mansion grounds, but then Rezko starts getting wires of millions of dollars from the middle east, Rezko's a Syrian and the wires were coming from an Iraqi billionare who fled Iraq, undoubtedly where some of our countless billions have gone that we "can't find", and this all quietly comes out in bail paperwork filed with the court on Rezko's assets. And all of a sudden, we're now told that Rezko "has since sold it", it being Obama's back (or front, or something he can get to but the owner can't because there's no easement or access from the street to it), and oh never mind, Rezko just went away.

Except that I read another post that the person who bought it was a crony of Rezko's and Obama's, one of Rezko's lawyers. If someone want to try to tell me that a Rezko crony paid half a million dollars of his own money for Obama's backyard that he can't get to, I'll eat crushed glass and nails. No, this is standard deviant behavior and they shuffled ownership of Obama's backyard to a someone not named Rezko because Rezko is going to federal trial in February on corruption charges. Oh, except since he's been caught illegally receiving wire transfers from the middle east against his bail restrictions, he's jailed now as a flight risk awaiting trial this month.

So in addition to what you wote about Obama lying about "oh that was just some guy that I did five hours of clerk work for" early in his career, which by the way, isn't going from law clerk work in 1995 where you're described as too junior to have any decision making responsibilities in these tens of millions of doallars of organized taxpayer theft - Rezko walked away from all 17 properties, Obama was involved with him in nine of them, and the city of Chicago, and the poor people in what's left of those 17 buildings are left holding the bag - but isn't that a long way to come from junior no responsibility law clerk in 1995 to presidential cult leader 13 years later? I think so, but hey, as long as he can preach.

So that's how clear cut you have to make it for people because once they start understanding that this is the first thing Obama did when elected Senator two years ago, and he had the audacity to demand Senate ethics reform, someone would surely ask isn't Obama's whole career with Rezko culminating in Obama's $625,000 back yard one huge pile of ethics violations?

I can't even see Obama weathering a Senate ethics investigation once the stuff hits the fan, but you can betcha the conservatives are ready to take Obama apart on this. And they can get all they need just from reading the Chicago papers.

rd

Posted by: ralphdaugherty | February 2, 2008 8:33 AM | Report abuse

scottinmd
One can vote on pricipal and make a personal statement - you can still write in Kucinich. I love DK - and I am probably a socilaist at heart. But I am OLD enough (and wiser than some) to know the USA is not ready for socilaism. All the happiest places on Earth (Denmark won the ABC study) have socialist type governments. But we don't.
A stand on principal will not help in the next election. And YEAH, what's wrong with being inspired?? Let's see, Ghandi, MLK, JFK, Malcolm X, hey how about Mike Ditka? Inspiration causes us to look up from our lives and listen...
Something you should try.

Posted by: sheridan1 | February 1, 2008 7:52 PM | Report abuse

Scott in MD,
Methinks you protest too much. Your Iraq argument would probably confuse you if you read it again. All blather and no substance.

In your comments I am reminded of a certain ex-president with steam coming from his ears, glowing red in his sense of entitlement.

USA USA!

Posted by: kshe7 | February 1, 2008 6:15 PM | Report abuse

from Scott in MD: "finally, people need to quit saying they're inspired by OB. Someone needs to "inspire" you to vote? to volunteer? to put another person's interest ahead of your own? if you're not already doing enough as an American then you're part of the problem and you're probably not going to do anything anyway. Do you need to be "inspired" to do things that are in the best interest of the country and ultimately yourself? You're not 12."

I will not quit saying Obama inspires me -- because, truly, he does.

I'm already putting 20 hours a week volunteering at the homeless shelter, but Obama inpsires me to put in an extra day.

And I do already vote, I'm from Chicago, I vote early and often.

And I have served my country by doing a 4 year stint in the Air Force - back in the '80's.

But Obama still inspires me -- what's wrong with that?

Posted by: AdrickHenry | February 1, 2008 4:42 PM | Report abuse

I don't know whether they scored points on one another. But they both scored points on the Republicans. The strange rules of unrestricted time of response at the GOP debate meant McCain and Romney took up most of the time bickering, splitting hairs and mincing words like "timetable." Neither of them looked good.

By comparison, Clinton and Obama looked like the grownups.

Posted by: AlaninMissoula | February 1, 2008 4:35 PM | Report abuse

Kucinich / Paul '08

Posted by: AdrickHenry | February 1, 2008 4:34 PM | Report abuse

About the Clinton-Obama or Obama-Clinton "dream ticket":

It's generally felt that the VP nominee seldom helps much (an exception is LBJ in 1960) but can easily hurt. Running a black or a woman at the top of the ticket is already a risk; adding a woman or a black is pushing it. The VP nominee will be a good, solid, dependable,experienced white male who doesn't antagonize anyone and maybe helps somewhere--not quite a Democratic "Spiro who?" (Nixon's choice in 1968) but close. Clinton and Bayh? Obama and Biden?

Posted by: iyenori | February 1, 2008 4:04 PM | Report abuse

sheridan 1...voting not to fund the war is EXACTLY what you do if you have a SINCERE and HONEST belief that we should not be there. See Kucinich--he was against the war and voted NOT to fund the war. so, who's really sincere in their anti-war stance? it seems that OB is not as anti-war as Kucinich, so that must make closer to Clinton. Of course, not too close because he wasn't even around to vote on it. its a non-issue if you didn't have a vote. sure, Kucinich could make that argument against Clinton but not OB because he wasn't even a senator then. (which goes back to his inexperience.) and again, OB sure didn't mind supporting Kerry/Edwards vote on the war back in '04.

finally, people need to quit saying they're inspired by OB. Someone needs to "inspire" you to vote? to volunteer? to put another person's interest ahead of your own? if you're not already doing enough as an American then you're part of the problem and you're probably not going to do anything anyway. Do you need to be "inspired" to do things that are in the best interest of the country and ultimately yourself? You're not 12.

Posted by: scottinmd | February 1, 2008 4:00 PM | Report abuse

"remains to be seen"? 15 yard penalty and loss of down for resorting to an overused and meaningless cliche. What's next to end a post, "Only time will tell?" You're a good writer. Don't yield to the temptation to phone it in.

Posted by: tool4theman | February 1, 2008 3:59 PM | Report abuse

I see a great debate here for votes in all sectors. My primary interest is in votes from the Hispanic community, which might have tipped the Florida primary to McCain, as suggested by Simon Rosenberg here: http://www.ndnblog.org/node/1846.

Hispanics are a key demographic that is going to drive this election it would probably be smart to keep a finger to the wind with respect to what Spanish-language media will be doing to inform voters. Just consider this recent announcement about Super Tuesday coverage: http://www.vmetv.com/_files/_official_pr/impremedia.pdf between V-Me (Spanish-language TV) and ImpreMedia.

Posted by: hispanicelectionwatch | February 1, 2008 3:22 PM | Report abuse

Last night weas a wonderful example of two intelligent people have a political conversation. I've never been so proud to be a Democrat before in my LIFE - and that even includes the JFK years because I was too young to know I should BE proud!
If it weren't for Bill's unfortunate...temperament and arrogance, I would say they are both excellent Presidential candidates!

But Hillary does bring with her all the muddy water (Whitewater to be exact) and Impeachment issues. She brings with her a rabid dislike of anything Republican and one can't blame her after the antics of Ken Starr. But she is far too partisan for our current situation. I'd rather improve our relations with other countries than simply beat down the Republicans.

Imagine McCain debating with either one of these intelligent and well informed candidates!! He is a good man, but he is a hawk and will have us at war forEVER. He supports Bush's policies - that should be enough to be a problem for him.

The points made about Immigration and deportation were what the public needed to hear. The expense of all the policing issues, the rounding up of people, the cost of all of that is SO unrealistic and seriously unpatriotic. Do we have to take down the Statue of Liberty? Obama and Clinton both realize this and have real solutions.

The only question that remains is who would best lead us in this new Century. There is no doubt in my mind that man is Barack Obama.

Regarding this: "Barack Obama's Health Care is the Same Universal Health Care offered by Hillary but with one Major Difference: You Have the Option of Choice!
That's why his plan is flawed."

Uh...okay. Let's talk about California liability Insurance. Do we all understand the word "mandate?" We have to have liability insurance in order to get a registration for our cars. But MANY people drive around uninsured ANYWAY. SO a mandate may be there, but all it means is that if you don't take advantage of it you will pay for that in some way, believe me. This would be the same with mandated health care.

By having the "choice" that Senator Obama offers, everyone will be covered but Government will not INSIST that you use their program. You can buy your own Insurance, keep the coverage you already have, whatever. There is no mandate.

I believe in human beings. People generally when given choices, choose the right thing. When told what to do, like with any "mandate", we tend to rebel.

On Iraq - Obama HAS been consistant. He was strongly against the war and basically predicted exactly what has happened not only to us, but to the rest of the world because of George Bush's War. But in the Sentate, he HAD to vote to fund the troops. Once the decision was made, is he supposed to take a stand agaisnt our soldiers and NOT give them the extra financial support they need once there are there, even if he disagreed with the reason for them BEING there?

Both are wonderful candidtes, but Obama's intelligence and good judgement will improve our image around the world, inspire us the unite as a country, and will beat McCain in the general election!
Again, the only thing that will unite Republicans is Hillary and Bill CLinton.

Posted by: sheridan1 | February 1, 2008 2:34 PM | Report abuse

An appeal to Democratic Party voters in caucuses and primaries.

I appeal to all my democratic American brothers and sisters who are voting in the caucuses and primaries to select their presidential nominee. This appeal comes from a person from India, the biggest democratic nation.

Destiny awaits you. The greatest day in American history awaits you. The annals of history wait to be rewritten, provided you choose Hillary Clinton as your presidential nominee. Thus, for the first time in your history you won't have to say Americans never had a chance to elect a woman president. It doesn't end here.

I also appeal to Hillary Clinton to request, choose and declare Barack Obama as her vice presidential candidate. And I also appeal to Barack Obama to accept it in good faith, for better and not for worse. Thus, again for the first time in the history of this great nation you won't have to say we never had a black vice president.

KILL TWO BIRDS AT ONE SHOT! I wonder which Republican combination can challenge such a great duo.

Even in India we had woman prime minister and now president. And prior to as a nation, we had Queens like Rani of Janshi and others. Who have said that women are bad leaders or politicians? Why Americans have to shy away from electing a woman president? I know Americans are good people and they will all unitedly rise up to the occasion to elect a woman president and a black vice president, thus creating a new history in the history of this great nation.

From:

Ivo Oscar Faleiro.
Goa - INDIA.

Contact: ivofaleiro@gmail.com ; ivofaleiro@yahoo.co.in

PS: Please pass this appeal to all your American friends without fail and especially to Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton. God bless you all.

Posted by: iofaleiro | February 1, 2008 1:43 PM | Report abuse

To the Hillary supporters who criticize Obama for not single-handedly ending the war:

I notice that Hillary Clinton also didn't do anything to end the Iraq War. Why is that? I also notice that she hasn't introduced legislation for universal healthcare. In fact, I'm not aware of any major legislation that she's championed in the Senate, except for that bill banning flag-burning a few years back. What's so impressive about her Senate record, that allows you to criticize Obama's record?

Posted by: Blarg | February 1, 2008 1:39 PM | Report abuse

2229 writes
"one problem with Obama's plan is, those "opting" not to get health insurance are still going to incur medical costs, but it will all be paid by taxpayers. Get it?"

How so? My understanding is that under Obama's plan, only people who can affort healthcare, but aren't covered by their employers, would potentially be without coverage. i.e. people who can afford to buy their own, but choose not to. In the event of illness or injury, these people will either pay out of pocket, or go without healthcare. How is this a cost to the taxpayer?

Posted by: bsimon | February 1, 2008 1:30 PM | Report abuse

This is probably going to upset both so sides, but this is what I see, so what the hay!

Obama inspires me when I see him give a speech. He reminds me so much of JFK in that way. He's probably closer to RFK in thinking, but he certainly has the gift for oratory.

I truly believe he could inspire this nation -- at a time when we REALLY need it.

I also believe he could help to restore our standing in the world amongst our traditional allies and improve our situation vis-a-vis our enemies.

But...

Hillary, to me, comes off very well in debate. She seems well-reasoned and clear-thinking. So unlike the picture so many bloggers paint of her as some Machivelli-on-steroids, ambition-drunk creature.

I've posted before that I would like to see Obama-Biden, but now I'm re-thinking this...

Obama-Clinton sounds very tough to beat come November.

Posted by: AdrickHenry | February 1, 2008 1:29 PM | Report abuse

solid point bnw173

Posted by: scottinmd | February 1, 2008 12:42 PM | Report abuse

my favorite part was when Obama was speaking about the need to focus on the future and not the past -- waxing philosophical for a moment -- and Hillary was just kind of "gazing" at him.

Did anyone else notice this, this look she had? Reminds me of the way my first girlfriend used to look at me. Is she ga-ga for him or something?

And they were both pretty vague on the possibility of an Obama-Clinton (or, a Clinton-Obama) ticket, weren't they???

Posted by: AdrickHenry | February 1, 2008 12:38 PM | Report abuse

as for the comment that its more important how we acted before we went to iraq, BO doesn't have an argument: he was not a senator at the time. and as he said when he endorsed Kerry/Edwards, who both voted for the resolution, he did not have all the info. again, he also could have easily voided to stop funding a situation he feels we should not have entered to start with. other anti-war democratic senators voted not to fund the troops...why did BO vote to fund them? the reason is politics...not conviction.

i also find it interesting that the iraqi vote is the only drum he can beat. and its really a non-issue NOW and IN THE FUTURE (as BO is always talking about) since they both want to get out of iraq. then again, i'm not going to really put a lot of credit in BO's foreign policy skills (zero...he hasn't done anything) when he wants to commit to sitting down with troublesome world leaders. he'll have a lot of clout when he sits down after just pulling out our troops and having the u.s. tuck its tail and run in the face of terrorists and extremists.

Posted by: scottinmd | February 1, 2008 12:33 PM | Report abuse

"Let's all pray for the children that will suffer for allowing the Fascists to take over, what was, our country"

Quit smoking PCP. The Fascists have ALREADY taken over. Whether it's Hillary or Barack, the fascists will be gone.

Pull your head out.

Posted by: 2229 | February 1, 2008 12:30 PM | Report abuse

"Barack Obama's Health Care is the Same Universal Health Care offered by Hillary but with one Major Difference: You Have the Option of Choice!"

That's why his plan is flawed.

Apparently you weren't listening last night: one problem with Obama's plan is, those "opting" not to get health insurance are still going to incur medical costs, but it will all be paid by taxpayers. Get it?

Posted by: 2229 | February 1, 2008 12:24 PM | Report abuse

Sen. Hillary Clinton will be the next President of the United States. She is clearly the most qualified, most experienced, most intelligent, most politically skilled, with the best grasp of domestic & international issues of any candidate in the race of any party. The Dems are lucky to have her and the nation and world will benefit greatly from her leadership.

As for Sen. Obama, he should return to the Senate, work on his lack of experience and substance. The "I was a community organizer in Chicago" and a couple of years in the U.S. Senate do not cut it as qualifications for President of the United States. He would be crucified in a general election and is simply not electable.Don't be fooled by the media's 24/7 obsession with Sen. Obama. His day may come in another eight years.

2008 is Hillary Clinton's year. She is clearly ready to be President. She is a WINNER and that is the point, isn't it? Let's stop this negativity and get on with the business of supporting the very best candidate the Dems have had in a long time, Hillary Clinton.

Posted by: TAH1 | February 1, 2008 12:01 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: steidler | February 1, 2008 11:36 AM | Report abuse

Calver said--And we cannot fault Obama for not turning this into a crusade. He was very much a junior Senator at the time and did the best he could under the circumstances. But as President, he would have the power to execute his policies
----------------------------------------
This blows my mind. You say that when Obama came to the Senate he was a new junior senator and couldn't take up his crusade against the war. This is our arguement. He talks a good game but is not experienced enough to carry out his change. How can anyone who is not experienced enough to be a good senator make a good president?

Posted by: bnw173 | February 1, 2008 11:35 AM | Report abuse

To paraphrase John Edwards, I think it's safe to say that what we saw last night in the CNN Democratic Presidential Debate were the adults of the US presidential campaign. Unlike the South Carolina debate, or the Republican debate from the previous night, civility, unity and hardcore policy ruled the evening.

Overall, the debate was probably a wash on policy details. I didn't sense a clear winner, though both scored some memorable points and left some gaping holes. For an event of this type, the depth and detail of the policy presented was remarkable. In that sense, both were winners; Clinton for her grasp of details - her "wonkishness," if you will - and Obama for disproving the common rap that he's long on charisma and short on plans. At the meta-level, the fact that the focus was on the details was a bigger win for Clinton. Details and policy are clearly her forte and, by her grasp and presentation, she managed to pull the substance of the debate into her home turf. Obama did well, but the fact that the debate focused so heavily on policy is a win for Clinton.

The debate wasn't a loss for Obama, though. The tone of the discussion was a clear endorsement of his approach to the campaign in general. Though a few shaded barbs cropped up over the two-hour debate, the acrimony of past meetings was gone. Both candidates took the high ground throughout, focusing disagreements on policy differences rather than personal differences. In other words, Clinton adopted the tone that Obama has tried to carry throughout the campaign. With few exceptions, her smiles seemed genuine and warm as she carefully reminded all the viewers of the importance of Democratic unity. It's a humble and genteel approach that Obama has carried since his first day on the campaign trail. After watching this race intensely for the past several months, it's no surprise that, on this night, with two candidates remaining, Clinton drove the substance while Obama drove the tone.

Full post here.

Posted by: steidler | February 1, 2008 11:34 AM | Report abuse

Did you catch "The Answer" last night? The answer to how we're going to beat John McCain in November? Clinton and Obama both touched on it: How all of the Republican candidates, particularly McCain, continue to carry water for Bush. Seriously, who wants to be linked to Bush when two-thirds of Americans disapprove of Bush's performance? And if you're worried that Hillary will mobilize conservatives to vote, just take a look at how much more mobilized Dems are. Those full-of-hate, anti-Clinton (and anti-McCain) Dittoheads can't come close to putting up our numbers. Democrats Unite!

Posted by: dognabbit | February 1, 2008 11:19 AM | Report abuse

Senator Obama was against the war as early as 2002. Made a great speech. Sounded good. He came to Washington, I presume he ran on change. What has he done to stop the war? I reread the speech. Sounded like a "fairy tale" to me.

Posted by: bnw173 | February 1, 2008 11:16 AM | Report abuse

Unlike some of the posters here I believe the distinction Obama drew between himself and Hillary on the war merits closer examination.

Hillary, like so many politicians and members of the media were literally stampeded into supporting a war that was totally ill-advised. The principal excuse is that the information we supposedly had was that Saddam had WMD and we could not afford to "take a chance" in the "post-9/11" world.

This rational is pure poppycock because even if Saddam had WMD (and we knew he had at some point) there was no credible evidence that he would ever use it against us. Have we forgotten that he waged a EIGHT YEAR war against Iran? Have we forgotten that he invaded Kuwait and was pushed back by Bush's father, who went out of his way NOT to invade his country?

This Iraq war was a wholesale fabrication of the Bush administration based on some very dubious assumptions put forth by the neo-cons in the White House.

Obama correctly stated that is not enough to change courses and try to correct a badly executed policy. (now that we're there, we have to deal with the consequences of being there).

What Obama said last night is that the whole policy concept behind the invasion was wrong. That pre-emptive "just-in-case" types of wars are wrong. That we had no business invading Iraq. That we actually diminished our efforts towards combating terrorism by invading Iraq. We wasted so much money and lives chasing the wrong objective.

Sure, it is easy, after the fact, when things have been going badly, (and the majority of the American people are sick of the war) to say we should get out as soon as possible.

What is much more difficult is to say, before the fact, in light of all the hoopla, that going to war is a big mistake. THAT takes courage, and shows leadership. And we cannot fault Obama for not turning this into a crusade. He was very much a junior Senator at the time and did the best he could under the circumstances. But as President, he would have the power to execute his policies.

We need a President who is ahead of the curve on the world stage and not just catching up. Hillary was clearly ahead of the curve on health care, but she is not running for Secretary of Human Services which she would clearly be an excellent candidate for. They both are running for Commander-in-Chief, and good judgment is key, rather than experience. Remember, that Bush didn't invade Iraq without the considerable experience of Cheney and Rumsfeld. Experience is important, but in this case, good judgment would have been more in the national interest.

Posted by: Calvet | February 1, 2008 11:13 AM | Report abuse

The Iraq war exchange and the discussions of Hillary's connection to Bill both demonstrated the same thing -- that Hillary is selective about what she takes credit for, often in completely illogical ways.

On Iraq, she says it's Bush's fault, that any reasonable person would have thought he'd pursue inspections to their conclusion without being restricted by the Levin amendment -- a characterization that is totally at odds with how I, for one, remember the war vote. Yet she also refuses to characterize the problem as being naive about what Bush would do.

How can the problem be that Bush didn't do what she expected, yet not that she was incorrect in trusting him? Her steadfast refusal to take any credit for her bad decision is remarkably Bush-like.

Similarly, she takes credit for the first Clinton administration, talking about it in the first-person ("we...") and arguing that "it takes a Clinton to clean up for a Bush." Yet she also insists that voters not judge her based on the flaws of her husband or his administration. So which one is it?

Finally, I'm a little disturbed that the press -- and perhaps voters -- are letting everyone forget about the last couple of weeks because she's playing nice now. But it was a revealing picture of the Clintons we saw, and I'd expect that kind of dishonest behavior to re-emerge consistently if they're granted the nomination or returned to the White House.

Posted by: davestickler | February 1, 2008 11:07 AM | Report abuse

Obama's stance on immigration is nothing compared to the damage that the Clintons will inflict on the American Public.

How soon do we forget the Welfare Reform - which followed NAFTA - GATT - and FASTTRACK? Our public schools are a mess because the Clintons brought in the corporate world thinkers rather than the University Education Academia.

See: Bill Moyers' Documentary (recently released by PBS called 'Selling the War'. Ask you local library to get their hands on it. PBS still shows it now and then. It shows Hillary selling the war in Iraq harder than any other Democrat and harder than most other Republicans.

After 28 years of Neo-Con Presidents (yes, Clinton is amongst them) we need change.

Obama '08

Posted by: theman_in_black | February 1, 2008 10:50 AM | Report abuse

someone posted that they give the edge to BO because of "excitement and wow factor"? are they talking about a Presidential election or voting for American Idol? BO just proves that voters can be easily swayed by smooth, toothless talk from a woefully inexperienced candidate. Its funny, all of those BO supporters talking about his charm and demeanor never mention policy. Why? Because he doesn't. For all the Bush bashing by BO and his supporters, they've really taken a page out of his campaign book--be charming and likeable but say nothing substantive so no one can really attack your positions. (You know, use buzz words like "work together", etc.) Well, look where that got us. Finally, since BO talks so much about looking to the future, why does he spend so much time looking at Clinton's past?

Posted by: scottinmd | February 1, 2008 9:28 AM | Report abuse

Please take a moment of silence:

Let's all pray for the children that will suffer for allowing the Fascists to take over, what was, our country

Posted by: theman_in_black | February 1, 2008 9:28 AM | Report abuse

Clinton carried herself well and really had a far better handle on the issues. Obama tried to make substantive points but its not his strong-suit. He seemed to just be playing catch-up with Clinton's policy knowledge and experience.

Does Obama think he can win on just substance-less charm? His attack on Iraq also falls short because the few, extreme Democratic fringe that would not vote for Clinton because of that vote are already squarely in his corner. First, everyone knows how Hillary voted. Second, Obama's claims about being against the war are irrelevant: he was not a Senator and did not have a vote. Finally, in response to the Iraq resolution, at the time of the 2004 Democratic convention, Obama said that Bush's motives with Iraq were "sincere", that Congress had information that he did not have, and he did not in any way claim that Kerry/Edwards were wrong for the votes for the Iraqi resolution. Democrats were laregly not swayed by Kerry/Edwards votes for the Iraqi resolution so why would they care about Clinton's vote? Again, if Obama was so against the war, why did he not take a true difficult stand and vote to stop funding the troops? I'm sure the reason was because that would be political suicide and thats far more important than his deep-down feelings that the Iraqi invasion was wrong. And any argument that he would not harm the troops is hollow because he knows that the troops would get their funding. So, he chose not to make that vote strictly for political reasons despite his claimed anti-Iraqi resolution position.

Posted by: scottinmd | February 1, 2008 9:19 AM | Report abuse

'Sen. Joseph R. Biden, Jr., D-Del., the committee chairman, and the most senior Republican, Sen. Richard G. Lugar R-Ind., expressed disbelief at Boucher's optimism.

"The administration firmly believes that we are about to turn a corner and that we just need to give our policy a chance to work," Biden said. "I am curious what that policy is because it's not clear to me."

"That's exactly what we've been hearing for the past five years; the tide is always about to turn," Biden said.

Lugar, reflecting unrest in President Bush's own Republican Party, began mildly: "I am not really certain we have a plan for Afghanistan."

Nor for Iraq either. The 'corner' is always just six magic months away. And then another six months, and another, and another... I wish these guys could be in charge of the world. Adults running things, for a change. Wouldn't it be lovely to think so.

'PS HRC looked almost as old and wrinkly as McCain did the other night. Her pancake makeup person was working overtime'

seems some people can't get through the day without taking a crack at the way a female candidate looks, can they? or the way she laughs... why doesn't someone ask Mittens which mortician does his makeup?

Posted by: drindl | February 1, 2008 9:10 AM | Report abuse

Hey Chris - Welcome to the Fascist States of America - How many times did you and the Washington Post erase all the posts? How strange that your article was front/top page of the internet post, throughout the debate.


I hope you are proud of the fascist theocracy that you and your fellow fascist have played a large part in developing. Public Opinion is everything in creating a killing machine.


Once, we elect Hillary or McCain who will the fascists starve to death or throw in prison with no sight of being freed. Maybe we can expand the 3-Strikes Law throughout the country, possibly they'll create prison camps in the desert which will drive them to kill themselves.


There is no doubt in my mind ~ if there is a hell... all of you sorry jokes for journalists will be slipping through the Easy-Pay gate to hell.

Posted by: theman_in_black | February 1, 2008 9:07 AM | Report abuse

Who won the CNN Democratic Debate in California?

http://www.youpolls.com/details.asp?pid=1669

.

Posted by: PollM | February 1, 2008 8:33 AM | Report abuse

YOu've got to laugh at the idiots that think we should select Barry based on polls 9 months out.

Posted by: newagent99 | February 1, 2008 8:30 AM | Report abuse

And from the 'They Just Don't Get It' files, here's the lefty Dionne's article in the Post today

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/01/31/AR2008013102547.html?hpid=opinionsbox1

Funny, he still thinks the nomination is about who the right puts up. As I've been saying for months, the GOP nom is about beating HRC. That's it. She will motivate the nose-holders to get out there and pull the lever.

For proof why it simply must be McCain (unless you're one of those pitching the gambit whereby the right mails it in, blames the Dems for the next 4 years, then some Reagan Jr swoops in to save the day in 2012):

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/2008/president/national.html

McCain mostly wins in Nov. Mitt gets his a$$ handed to him.

Posted by: JD | February 1, 2008 8:00 AM | Report abuse

Hillary must have some comedy writers on her staff, on exodus from the guild strike.

When asked the internet question by the 38 yr old, who complained about never having voted in an election where there wasn't a Bush or a Clinton on the ticket (and therefore how could HRC be the change girl).... her response was 'that it always takes a Clinton to clean up after a Bush'.

That was definitely locked and loaded.

PS HRC looked almost as old and wrinkly as McCain did the other night. Her pancake makeup person was working overtime

Posted by: JD | February 1, 2008 7:55 AM | Report abuse

Excellent debate. Good to see them bury the hatchet. This is good for everyone. However, probably better for Obama, considering he has the momentum now and the debate last night did not change that. The next few days will be critical. I think Obama has several big events coming up and Hillary has bought 1 hour TV time on Hallmark the night before the vote. These all could have big impact. But I give the edge to Obama due to the excitement and wow factor. Feb 5 will be very interesting.

Posted by: zbob99 | February 1, 2008 7:50 AM | Report abuse

This was a good debate: with pluses and minuses. Wolf tried to get them to bash each other but the crowd gave him a swift kick in the pants. I am not interested in the hyperpartisanship of supporters. Either candidate will make a great president. Democrats have a tough choice and that is all to the good. Meanwhile over at wingnutville Hugh Hewitt is...

Posted by: bitterpill8 | February 1, 2008 7:46 AM | Report abuse

Well, as the GOP race drags on, the Democrat race seems to be coming to a close. And both candidates are running back to the center.

I watched HIllary's long explanation about her Iraq position. What exactly was she saying 3-4 months ago? Because last night sounded new to me, from then anyway.

This bodes well for the Dems in the general. The faster they wrap this whole thing up, the longer they will have appeared to be the "moderates".

FL has delivered a crushing blow the R party. As much as I like the Huck, I want him to drop out so Romney can defeat McCain. The longer this takes, the more likely we are to lose.

An interesting point from my democrat-leaning wife about McCain: If you want to act like a liberal, be a democrat. There's no room for liberals in the R party. Conservatism is the backbone of the country, and while there may be a place for liberalism, it is not in the R party. She vehemently dislikes McCain, and she doesn't even pay as much attention as me. She'll probably vote for Obama. But, then again, she kind of likes the Huckster as well. In the end, she'll support for Romney over Clinton.

Posted by: USMC_Mike | February 1, 2008 7:45 AM | Report abuse

the "tax-and-spend liberal" comeback is gonna be a very important one, i was glad to see it directly addressed last night but think Dems have to do a better job of it: don't talk about it from Warren Buffet's perspective as Obama did last night, talk about it from the average American family's point of view. show us that, on balance, we'd be better off with what our taxes would pay for

Posted by: mgfunk5 | February 1, 2008 7:38 AM | Report abuse

Anyone want to hazard a guess why we aren't seeing more public polling of the 2/5 states? If you look at the state-by-state data -- http://www.pollster.com/08-US-Dem-Pres-Primary.php -- it's like only California, New Jersey, and New York are voting. What gives? Though after NH and SC, that may improve my WAGs.

Posted by: novamatt | February 1, 2008 7:25 AM | Report abuse

Hillary Clinton and Obama both were at their best in yesterday's debate, and they readily appear to agree on most important policy issues. In this sense, both candidates represent change because both are committed to alter the priorities and the environment in Washington. In my opinion, both did good to themselves in the debate. The only discordant note was Obama's insistence that his approach to Iraq was different from that of Hillary. While Obama made an initial speech against the war in Iraq, his failure to support the anti-war candidate Howard Dean in 2004 should clearly indicate that he was really not passionate about the war issue. He made a keynote speech in the 2004 democratic convention on behalf of John Kerry, who voted for the war resolution along with Hillary. If Obama and John Kerry had differed on the war issue resolution, Obama made no mention of that difference in the keynote speech. John Kerry has diminished himself and Obama by his endorsement of Obama because it smacks of personal dislike of Hillary's dominance. I believe that both Hillary and Obama are good candidates for the democrats, but on balance Hillary would be a more nuanced and capable leader for problem solving. As Hillary pointed out, Obama has pledged to personally meet the leaders of Iran and other anti-American countries with no preconditions. This is an issue of importance in this election. I think that it is important to make conversations with your adversaries, but to put the presidential prestige on line for a potential failure is not very wise. If Obama does indeed meet these leaders without a favorable outcome for America, he will bring in a Republican onslaught against which he will be powerless to move forward. He also previously said that he would send Americantroops to Pakistan (a nuclear armed country)to chase terrorists. This is another unwise posture in the international arena. His claim that he will get it right on day one after becoming president flies in the face of such ill-considered foreign policy positions.I believe that Hillary will seek international cooperation and peace without compromising vital American interests. So much for change without substance. On the domestic front, Hillary is solid in her experience and ability to change the country. I believe that a Clinton-Obama ticket is a realistic possibility if the candidates recognize the relative strengths of the candidates. It is time for both a woman and an African American to lead this country, and restore this country's image abroad, and solve pressing internal problems in America.

Posted by: vaidyatk | February 1, 2008 6:54 AM | Report abuse

The health care issue is critical to me. Most Posters know of my own health problem facing me. I have been taking test these past couple of months and the Drs. are milking Medicare and Medicaid, which I have. The way they keep setting up appointments and tests for nothing even related to the problem I have. IMHO, this is nothing but Fraud and Abuse of the system for MONEY, and not the medical needs in my particular case.

Posted by: lylepink | February 1, 2008 6:51 AM | Report abuse

I'm an Obama supporter, but I think they both did pretty well last night.Hillary struggled a bit with explaining her 2002 Iraq vote, as usual, but I thought she was pretty strong on everything else--all you haters out there have got to admit that she's got a lot of good ideas (as does Obama, obviously). Obama probably benefited more from the debate, though, because he was able to demonstrate his mastery of the finer points of health care policy, which is Hillary's strong point. I'm really hoping that the supposed animosity between the two is just a bunch of hype, because I think they would make a really strong ticket.

Posted by: pjkiger1 | February 1, 2008 6:49 AM | Report abuse

wdsoulplane - You have completely missed a key point of universal health care. The point is that if someone is not insured, the taxpayers pay for them when they get sick.

So under Obama's plan, we end up paying for people who can't afford insurance (fine) and people who can (what?!).

Interestingly enough, you call it a benefit that certain people will be able to avoid buying health insurance. Obama denies that this will even happen. Even a fourth grader understands he is being dishonest.

Obama has problems being forthcoming on this point. Instead, he tries to play americans for fools. Don't we have enough of that with our current president?

Posted by: ghokee | February 1, 2008 6:02 AM | Report abuse

Why I support Clinton:

1. I owe it to every mother sactifising their child aginst their will in America, Africa, Middle East, and every conrner of the world for thousand years in a "Men' world"

2. I owe it to every child dying in Africa, Asia, American as society consider them secondary citizen. Does not look at them from father's eye, not with mother's love

3. I owe it to female infantize and abortion around the world as this world think they are buden, don't have any power therefore, no value

4. I owe it to every women forced to be third class citizen. When their men have to deal with a women to secure their monarchy, those women wil chant in the street of Middle East to get their right as human being and share to power

5. I owe it to poor garment worker in Bangldesh, Phillipins, India, Africa, who dared to leave their involuntary exile from work force as Clinton simple words during her visit to those countries encouraged them to do so

6. I owe it to my daughter future, my widowed mother who fought for my future against social prejudice, and the generations of mother before her. (Not to my wife, who fights too much -:)

50% of the world population has gone without representation to the highest power in the world. It is the time for change.

World wide change in power share, not just in American. After thousands of years of "men's world", it is time for "shared world".

Let's fight to the finish line. Then reconcile, and fight to win in November for Global Change.

Posted by: SeedofChange | February 1, 2008 6:02 AM | Report abuse

Wow. Obama looked like a pretty inexperienced, weak candidate in that debate.

Here is the guy who is supposed to be a new kind of politician sitting there lying about his health care plan. Does anyone beleive that everyone who can afford insurance will buy it? Come on. There are millions of people today who can afford insurance and don't have it. Obama knows this. Just be honest with us.

And the Iraq issue has no bearing on the general election. Who is the anti-war crowd going to vote for? McCain?

And on immigration, probably the wedge issue in the upcoming election, Obama looked particularly bad. Furthering the problem by supporting driver's licenses on one hand, and failing to understand how illegal immigration suppreses wages for ordinary americans on the other. This is a huge negative. I would estimate that 70% of america disagrees with him. I don't think that elitist Obama supporters realize the impact this has in middle-america.

This guy is just not ready to be President and that was clear last night. No way should he be the Democratic nominee. He has no chance to win in November.

Posted by: ghokee | February 1, 2008 5:55 AM | Report abuse

Barack Obama's Health Care is the Same Universal Health Care offered by Hillary but with one Major Difference: You Have the Option of Choice! Do you want to be forced to pay for medical insurance like you are mandated to pay your auto insurance now? Or would you rather have the option of CHOICE --to be able to decide whether or not you want to buy your medical coverage at this time? This way Barack Obama's plan does not put another mandated cost, like auto insurance, on the backs of the people, especially the young who already have college costs to contend with. However, the coverage is always there for you, if and when you need it.

Posted by: wdsoulplane | February 1, 2008 5:22 AM | Report abuse

Hillary's response to Wolf's question about her vote for the war reminded me of Ms. South Caroline's response to why Americans could not identify the US on a map. Hillary's answer was off-topic, full of hot air, and completely nonsensical. It was full of the usual name calling tactics (Saddam is a megalomanic) she uses to dismiss the question and not give a straight-forward answer. My question is, if Saddam is a megalomanic what does that make Billary?

Posted by: jodemore5 | February 1, 2008 4:31 AM | Report abuse

My predictions, for whatever they're worth...

-Alabama: Obama, narrowly.
-Alaska: My guess is that Clinton will win this state.
-Arizona: Too close to call. Let's see how effective the endorsements of Gov. Janet Napolitano(D-AZ) and Sen. Ted Kennedy prove to be.
-Arkansas: Clinton, narrowly?
-California: I'm not convinced Hillary will win in Cali. I really hope Obama wins.
-Connecticut: Clinton, narrowly.
-Delaware: Clinton.
-Georgia: Obama.
-Idaho: Clinton.
-Illinois: Obama.
-Kansas: Obama.
-Massachusetts: Obama, narrowly.
-Minnesota: Too close to call.
-Missouri: Obama, narrowly.
-New Jersey: Clinton, narrowly.
-North Dakota: Clinton.
-New Mexico: Clinton.
-New York: Clinton. (Those of us in NYC will make this interesting, however.)
-Oklahoma: Obama.
Tennessee: Obama.
Utah: Clinton:


Too close to call, or to concede. I, too, like Obama's chances in Louisiana, Nebraska, Washington, Maryland, D.C., Virginia, Hawaii, Ohio and Texas. These states will vote between Feb. 9th and March 4th. I suspect that we'll know our nominee by March 5th.


New Yorkers for Obama.

Posted by: legan00 | February 1, 2008 3:45 AM | Report abuse

Martin said:
"Ma'am, your husband's presidency was marked by scandals running from the salacious to national security,..."

Martin, what kind of revisionist nightmare is this? National security? Does Rush Limbaugh give you impetus to just make stuff up and pretend it's real?

You may forget that Clinton removed a dictator from Haiti *without bloodshed to either side - not a drop*.

President Fascist, of course, removed a *democratically elected leader* of Haiti with much bloodshed.

Demonize the evil people that deserve it: Bush, Cheney, Wolfowitz, Karl Effin' Rove.
Those are the people we idiot Americans who elected them twice will have to explain to our kids when they read the history books and wonder how an entire nation could be so easily brainwashed into a patriotic torpor of war fever and the demonizing of anyone not agreeing with Herr Bush.

Bill Clinton's entire claim to infamy was oral sex he had with a willing adult. He was impeached for lying about that.

If you think that needle compares to the haystack of traitorous war criminality, anti-Constitutional destruction of civil liberties and criminal corporate misconduct on a scale similar to the Fall of Rome...

Yet, of course, our Worst. President. Ever. is STILL in office, still screwing up the country and trying to create a corporate monarchy, still pretending the war in Iraq is anything but brainlessly lost - our soldiers, of course, are dying for a theocratic Iraqi constitution. Go read an English version of it. It will shock you. You can GOOGLE it.

No impeachment for President Dictator! No siree!

Next time, try and aim your contempt for someone who's earned it hundreds of times over - 900 lies alone on the war leading up to Iraq.

In the '90s, Clinton made friends for America around the globe. World leaders loved him.

The modest recovery underway in 1993 was given a shot of rocket fuel when Clinton and Gore cut hundreds of billions in bloated government bureaucratic spending that sent that fine '90s economy into one of the best economic times on record. (Anyone remember the Time cover headline, "Is the economy recession-proof?" Alas, even that robust of an economy can be destroyed, when an idiot takes office who's declared a lame duck just before 9-11 for his absolute inaction on anything important to the country).

The terrorist attack, which President Stupid was warned about two months before it happened by the same maligned-with-lies CIA who gave the moron a report entitled, "Bin Laden plans to strike inside U.S."

With the analytical mind of a gerbil, President Worst Ever went to his *ranch* for 30 days, returning days before 9-11. The FBI mysteriously ignored warnings from many field agents. The nation was *not* put on alert.

This demonizing of the Clintons is part of the same vast, right-wing conspiracy that no one laughs about now. Beware the Hitler clones. They *like* that brown-shirt stuff.

The only national security threat is the current administration, and the Republican congressional enablers who've allowed this travesty to continue unchecked.

Posted by: 2229 | February 1, 2008 2:34 AM | Report abuse

Having only two candidates allowed each to give a few more details on their policies.

I liked what Obama said he would do with airing the Health Care discussions on C-Span. This goes along with his transparency in government instead of shady back room dealing- something the American people need to see more of.

Clinton's response to how her years as First Lady translates into experience, was a chronology of her 35 years of experience, many of those spent on children's issues. But what struck me was when she came to her years as first lady she said she had visited 82 countries and negotiated a deal with Macedonia to open its borders. By what authority does a first lady have to negotiate or broker agreements?

I liked the question about the voter who is 35 years old and has never voted for a president who was not a Clinton or Bush. If another Clinton gets in - what's next Jeb Bush and after that Chelsea will be old enough to run. What message would we be sending to our younger generation who don't come from these families - that they can't aspire to be the president of the United States?

Obama gave the best response to the question on Iraq - saying we have to be careful getting out of Iraq since we were so careless going in. Whereas, Hillary says she will start pulling troops out in 60 days. It will take longer than 60 days to develop an exit plan that is thoughtful and safe for our troops. Her rush to pull troops out could be even more disasterous than the rush to invade Iraq. She also said she voted for on the Iraq bill because she didn't think Bush was going to go to war. Everyone knew it was a war bill. This just shows that she lacks the good judgement to be our next president.

Obama was a true gentleman tonight - pulling out the chair before and after the debate for Hillary.

Posted by: Nevadaandy | February 1, 2008 2:12 AM | Report abuse

Which one can really best go up against McCain?

Super Tuesday Analysis -
The Democrats Web Battle
Google Trend & Web Hits Reports

http://newsusa.myfeedportal.com/viewarticle.php?articleid=43

Posted by: davidmwe | February 1, 2008 1:16 AM | Report abuse

The question that should have been asked of Hillary tonight is this ...

"Ma'am, your husband's presidency was marked by scandals running from the salacious to national security, you've run a campaign based on race coding, and both you and your husband have scant regard for the truth.

"What could you possibly say to young people, what could you possibly bring to the table, for those who need to hear a message of honesty and integrity, as personal responsibility is the cornerstone of government accountability?"

Martin Edwin Andersen
Churchton, Maryland

Posted by: Martinedwinandersen | February 1, 2008 12:30 AM | Report abuse


The two links posted in these comments appear to be malicious and risky links. Please be careful. I am not expert myself but my netcraft tool red-flagged them. These links are:

at 11:29
http://www.obamaworldwide.com/SupporterMap.aspx

and that at 11:39
http://www.politicalinaction.com

Posted by: rajpol | February 1, 2008 12:26 AM | Report abuse

We need more Cons like the War Criminal. Indict Mission Accomplished for War Crimes before the Lame Dork destroys the country.

Bush's 2009 Budget Will Top $3 Trillion
By JOHN D. MCKINNON
February 1, 2008

WASHINGTON -- President Bush's budget for 2009, which will be released Monday, will total more than $3 trillion, the first time that barrier has been broken, a senior administration official said.

The budget plan projects big increases in federal budget deficits, to about $400 billion for both fiscal 2008 and fiscal 2009, the official said. That is primarily due to the fiscal-stimulus bill the White House and congressional leaders are seeking in order to pump up economic growth.

Continuing costs of the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq also factor into the projected deficits, as does another one-year change to prevent the alternative minimum tax from hitting more middle-class people.

The official noted that the deficit for each of the two years averages about 2.8% of U.S. gross domestic product. That is a tick up from the 40-year average federal deficit of 2.4%. Mr. Bush's high was 3.6% in 2004. The president is aiming for a balanced budget by 2012.

Mr. Bush came into office with a budget surplus, but his deep tax cuts and the global war on terrorism -- along with the effects of the 2001 recession -- combined to produce annual deficits.

To get the budget back in balance, the White House plan depends in part on sharp cuts in entitlements that will be difficult to achieve in Congress this year. The budget also attempts to put a tight lid on many domestic agencies' annual spending. Without those projected savings, deficits could run even higher.

Entitlements -- federal programs that hand out benefits to eligible people and businesses -- are a fast-growing part of the federal budget. The Bush administration has tried repeatedly with little success to rein them in, most notably when it sought to overhaul Social Security in 2005.

RELATED ARTICLE


• Budget Hits $3 Trillion as Debt Marks Bush LegacyMr. Bush's latest budget would reduce entitlement spending overall by about $208 billion over the next five years. Medicare alone would account for $178 billion, or about 86%, of these reductions. This year's proposal is a bigger reduction than Mr. Bush has previously attempted in Medicare.

Rep. Pete Stark (D., Calif.), chairman of the House health subcommittee, blasted the proposed Medicare reductions, saying they would "endanger the health care of America's seniors, people with disabilities and low-income children." He predicted the weight of the cuts would fall on hospitals and physicians.

Even if the White House managed to get its proposed reductions this year, Medicare's rate of growth would still be 5%, the administration official said. That is higher than the overall inflation rate.

Medicare's current rate of growth is about 7.2%, which many economists, elected leaders and businesspeople say is unsustainable over the long run, especially as baby boomers start to retire and receive benefits. The current projected unfunded obligation of Medicare over 75 years is an estimated $34 trillion. This plan would reduce it by nearly one third.

One area of spending where the administration wants a significant increase, however, is in import-safety regulation.

Administration officials said the White House budget will increase the Food and Drug Administration's food protection efforts by about 7%, or $42 million, to $662 million for fiscal 2009. The funds will be used to help implement a new food-safety strategy that the administration rolled out last fall, after a wave of controversies over faulty toys, tires and pet foods, among other items, many of them from China.

The new strategy depends not only on increasing inspections, but on pressing manufacturers and importers to obtain independent certifications of their products' fitness.

"The government has a vital role as an inspector...but there's too much coming into the U.S. for us to inspect everything," said Michael Leavitt, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. "Our strategy is to identify the highest-risk products and then insist that everything is certified by someone we trust."

Officials anticipate moving FDA personnel "into several different regions of the world" to start implementing the plan, Mr. Leavitt said. Another part of the agency's mission overseas will be to help countries understand exactly how to mesh their own standards with U.S. standards.

But Mr. Leavitt conceded that more increases will be needed in future years. At a recent congressional hearing, experts criticized the agency's budget as woefully inadequate. Overall, the budget increases FDA's funding by 5.7%, to $2.4 billion.

Posted by: mawt | February 1, 2008 12:18 AM | Report abuse

We need more Cons like the War Criminal. Indict Mission Accomplished for War Crimes before the Lame Dork destroys the country.

Bush's 2009 Budget Will Top $3 Trillion
By JOHN D. MCKINNON
February 1, 2008

WASHINGTON -- President Bush's budget for 2009, which will be released Monday, will total more than $3 trillion, the first time that barrier has been broken, a senior administration official said.

The budget plan projects big increases in federal budget deficits, to about $400 billion for both fiscal 2008 and fiscal 2009, the official said. That is primarily due to the fiscal-stimulus bill the White House and congressional leaders are seeking in order to pump up economic growth.

Continuing costs of the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq also factor into the projected deficits, as does another one-year change to prevent the alternative minimum tax from hitting more middle-class people.

The official noted that the deficit for each of the two years averages about 2.8% of U.S. gross domestic product. That is a tick up from the 40-year average federal deficit of 2.4%. Mr. Bush's high was 3.6% in 2004. The president is aiming for a balanced budget by 2012.

Mr. Bush came into office with a budget surplus, but his deep tax cuts and the global war on terrorism -- along with the effects of the 2001 recession -- combined to produce annual deficits.

To get the budget back in balance, the White House plan depends in part on sharp cuts in entitlements that will be difficult to achieve in Congress this year. The budget also attempts to put a tight lid on many domestic agencies' annual spending. Without those projected savings, deficits could run even higher.

Entitlements -- federal programs that hand out benefits to eligible people and businesses -- are a fast-growing part of the federal budget. The Bush administration has tried repeatedly with little success to rein them in, most notably when it sought to overhaul Social Security in 2005.

RELATED ARTICLE


• Budget Hits $3 Trillion as Debt Marks Bush LegacyMr. Bush's latest budget would reduce entitlement spending overall by about $208 billion over the next five years. Medicare alone would account for $178 billion, or about 86%, of these reductions. This year's proposal is a bigger reduction than Mr. Bush has previously attempted in Medicare.

Rep. Pete Stark (D., Calif.), chairman of the House health subcommittee, blasted the proposed Medicare reductions, saying they would "endanger the health care of America's seniors, people with disabilities and low-income children." He predicted the weight of the cuts would fall on hospitals and physicians.

Even if the White House managed to get its proposed reductions this year, Medicare's rate of growth would still be 5%, the administration official said. That is higher than the overall inflation rate.

Medicare's current rate of growth is about 7.2%, which many economists, elected leaders and businesspeople say is unsustainable over the long run, especially as baby boomers start to retire and receive benefits. The current projected unfunded obligation of Medicare over 75 years is an estimated $34 trillion. This plan would reduce it by nearly one third.

One area of spending where the administration wants a significant increase, however, is in import-safety regulation.

Administration officials said the White House budget will increase the Food and Drug Administration's food protection efforts by about 7%, or $42 million, to $662 million for fiscal 2009. The funds will be used to help implement a new food-safety strategy that the administration rolled out last fall, after a wave of controversies over faulty toys, tires and pet foods, among other items, many of them from China.

The new strategy depends not only on increasing inspections, but on pressing manufacturers and importers to obtain independent certifications of their products' fitness.

"The government has a vital role as an inspector...but there's too much coming into the U.S. for us to inspect everything," said Michael Leavitt, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. "Our strategy is to identify the highest-risk products and then insist that everything is certified by someone we trust."

Officials anticipate moving FDA personnel "into several different regions of the world" to start implementing the plan, Mr. Leavitt said. Another part of the agency's mission overseas will be to help countries understand exactly how to mesh their own standards with U.S. standards.

But Mr. Leavitt conceded that more increases will be needed in future years. At a recent congressional hearing, experts criticized the agency's budget as woefully inadequate. Overall, the budget increases FDA's funding by 5.7%, to $2.4 billion.

Posted by: mawt | February 1, 2008 12:18 AM | Report abuse

I'll be surprised if the Super Tuesday delegates are distributed any less evenly than 750-900 in either direction. Clinton will win some of the bigger states, but not by huge margins (outside of NY). Obama will roll up the red states, stay close in Cali and they'll both have ~1000 delegates. I'm an Obama volunteer, and I can tell you that his supporters are optimistic about VA/DC/MD. Will either candidate be able to lock it without Super Delegates?

Posted by: jonathanmstevens | February 1, 2008 12:10 AM | Report abuse

srg5007 -- You are mistaken: Obama was in LA at a large rally today and will be in Oakland on Friday (with Ted Kennedy) and SF on Saturday (with John Kerry) -- he clearly is campaigning very actively in California (and I think he's gaining LOTS of momentum, at least in the Bay Area.

Posted by: hermanSF | February 1, 2008 12:05 AM | Report abuse

Meanwhile, the two sanest people in American politics are back to work.
---------------------------------------
Sen. Joseph R. Biden, Jr., D-Del., the committee chairman, and the most senior Republican, Sen. Richard G. Lugar R-Ind., expressed disbelief at Boucher's optimism.

"The administration firmly believes that we are about to turn a corner and that we just need to give our policy a chance to work," Biden said. "I am curious what that policy is because it's not clear to me."

"That's exactly what we've been hearing for the past five years; the tide is always about to turn," Biden said.

Lugar, reflecting unrest in President Bush's own Republican Party, began mildly: "I am not really certain we have a plan for Afghanistan."

Posted by: mark_in_austin | January 31, 2008 11:57 PM | Report abuse

HRC was given a softball by Blitzer -- can she not admit that her Iraq authorization vote was a mistake -- and she coundn't! JUst like our current president; just like Nixon couldn't.

While the time was largely spent on policy, the fact is that most (rational) D voters will look at leadership qualities as opposed to time in DC.

Can the country take another utterly polarizing R & D election with HRC and McCain? Guarantee: decline in voter participation. The beauty of an Obama-McCain race is that they will seriously compete for the independents. Guarantee: increase in voter participation.

Curious concept of Clinton/Obama or Obama/Clinton ticket...but don't count on it.

Posted by: nicksak | January 31, 2008 11:41 PM | Report abuse

Tonight's debate was very nice to watch, they did play nice with each other but they did disagree at some points. It was good to see that people can be cordial and still draw lines in the sand, I have to say that Obama won by the smallest margin, if only because he really shredded her on the Iraq issue particularly her vote for it.

I hear that Obama isn't even campaigning in Cali before Feb. 5th, Hillary on the other hand is going to be there for 2 or 3 days. Obama must know that he will get at least 40-45% of the votes there so he feels he will split the delegates, if he can pull a majority of the toss-up states that will counter act Hillary's Cali win.

http://theghostofedmuskie.blogspot.com/

Posted by: srg5007 | January 31, 2008 11:39 PM | Report abuse

There was the usual Clinton smarminess on display tonight, and an eye-rolling segment where she talked about how she was the one on the ballot but was so proud of her husband's record. She always tries to have it both ways where her husband is concerned. A Democratic audience usually lets her.

Speaking of that audience, I was disappointed that since the two candidates started off campaigning to be Secretary of HHS the CNN group didn't ask them about single-payer. There is a sizable constituency among Democrats for this approach to health care, and Obama and Clinton shouldn't have been allowed a pass on why they don't support it. The panel also missed an opportunity to point out that both Clinton and Obama, in laying out how they would be prepared for an immigration argument with the Republicans, were both expressing support for the main features of John McCain's immigration bill.

Obama missed an opportunity toward the end, when Blitzer asked Clinton why she didn't simply say her 2002 use of force vote was a mistake. President Bush, of course, is also famously reluctant to admit mistakes -- if he does have to admit something went wrong, it's always somebody else's fault. Clinton would actually be better off by this time admitting what everyone knows, to take some of the sting off of Obama's "judgment" argument; she struggled with that tonight. But, like Bush, she sees admitting error as a sign of weakness -- a character flaw perhaps, but also one of the key principals of modern campaign tactics. Also like Bush, Clinton is a creature of the permanent campaign.

Posted by: jbritt3 | January 31, 2008 11:32 PM | Report abuse

I'm happy the debate didn't turn into a fight. It was about policy and I think it helped the democrats as a whole. Did anyone hear about Obama's $32 million in January with 250k new donors?

Obama Supporter Map: http://www.obamaworldwide.com/SupporterMap.aspx

Posted by: ObamaForPrez | January 31, 2008 11:29 PM | Report abuse

I seriously doubt this debate swayed one voter.

CNN's decision to go all policy was lame because there are split atoms bigger than the policy differences between these two. Wolfie should've focused more on leadership style, judgment and vision - these are the only truly substantive differences between them - instead of the tired baiting he kept going to in order to liven things up.

p.s. I thought they were going to start making out at one point....

Posted by: jtamarkin | January 31, 2008 11:22 PM | Report abuse

That was a great debate, and it really felt nice to have the two candidates discussing issues in a thoughtful and respectful way.

I think both candidates did very well, but I think that helps Obama more. His persistant knock is that he's all flash and no substance. Well, in a debate that was all substance and no flash he did at least as well as Clinton.

Now America knows he has detailed policies. They already knew that about Clinton, so he had a lot more ground to gain. It should be easier for him to make the argument now that he has flash AND substance; but it's no easier for Clinton to demonstrate that she can move people like Obama can.

Posted by: jenny_hoots | January 31, 2008 11:22 PM | Report abuse

Hillary's campaign spent 2 years trying to cozy her position on Iraq up to Obama's. Now, within the span of 20 minutes, she lets Obama demolish that argument that protected her flank. Hillary talked and talked and talked ill-advisedly about Iraq on a night when most Super Tuesday voters were first tuning in. Not good.

http://www.politicalinaction.com

Posted by: bschick20 | January 31, 2008 11:16 PM | Report abuse

This was a victory for America!
Two wonderful candidates and if you reject either one of them in primaries or the general election something like them will not appear for another 100 years. Watch out America!

Posted by: Political_Stratgst | January 31, 2008 11:16 PM | Report abuse

This was not a student audience. These were big time D donors in that theater. They knew where they were.

BHO's note that he had increased D turnout was worth millions in that room, I suspect.

Listen to them again as if you were a donor.
A big donor.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | January 31, 2008 11:12 PM | Report abuse

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