Sunday, June 3, 2007

Dem Debate, Part 2: The aftermath
The June 3 Democratic debate is over and, well, I have a slew of different things to say and no cohesively way to put the ideas together into a competent manner. So, I will just ramble.
First, after all these years of citizen participation in debates, it was nice to see someone I actually know be able to ask a question. My former lawn guy, for lack of a better term, Brian Sealander, got to ask a question, about taxes and the difficulty of saving money for retirement and college education. Sealander seeds and fertilizes lawns with natural, non-chemical-based products, although I've forgotten the name of the company. Nice job though!
Second, I want to talk about format for a minute. Personally, I liked the sit-down-in-the-chairs bit but I don't want them to talk about the war in Iraq anymore. Or, if they are going to talk about the war, there needs to be a 15 minute segment on that, and then, they need to move on.
We all know where these people stand on the war even though most are flip-floppers, now. And, as Sen. Joe Biden said, this is George Bush's war and when a Democratic president is elected, the war will end. So, enough already.
Enough about foreign policy, too. We have been distracted by foreign policy for far too long and it is harming our nation. We have serious domestic issues which need to be addressed and those issues are not being addressed because we are blowing hundreds of billions of dollars all over the world and have been for 50 years. Enough already.
There are a slew of other issues which we need to hear about.
For example, I would like to hear former Sen. Mike Gravel talk about his national sales tax idea or how he helped lead our nation through the last energy crisis by getting the Alaskan pipeline built [he did get to get out the line about raiding Social Security, which is true]. I would like to hear Rep. Dennis Kucinich talk about his Dept. of Peace idea and maybe even his vegan diet or preventative care. I would like to have a moderator who would call some of these guys on their votes, beyond just the Iraq one. Something like this: "Sen. Biden, you voted for the 1996 Telecom Bill which allowed a handful of major corporations to gobble up all the radio and television stations in the country. Many Americans believe this bill has eliminated local news and information to the public, and eliminated voices on the air. Do you regret that vote and what would you do to fix the problem of media consolidation?" A questioner or moderator could do the same for Sen. Chris Dodd on the Telecom Bill or NAFTA [Or, ask him about getting drunk with Ted Kennedy and the "waitress sandwich" incident at the La Brasserie restaurant back in the day]. Gov. Bill Richardson should be allowed to talk about his gubernatorial experience a bit and, I have to admit, I like the fact that he has been talking about managing a state as governor, not raising taxes, and the right to keep and bear arms.
I also think they should all get about 5 minutes each to talk about health care, maybe as a segment [Sen. Biden suggested separate debates on the major issues in a short post debate interview with Larry King CNN. I agree with him]. At least this way, it would allow the candidates the opportunity to talk about their plans in more depth.
I would also like to see the same questions asked of both the Democratic and Republican candidates. This would keep FoxNews, for example, from asking easy and leading questions of Republicans, and difficult questions of Democrats, which they've been proven to do in the past. As well, during the last Republican debate, viewers heard virtually nothing about domestic issues, with almost the entire debate tied up in foreign policy issues and the Iraq debacle. After asking the Republican candidates about their plans for health care, and hearing most of them tell the voters that everything is just fine or that market forces should be used to assist the tens of millions who can't afford insurance, never mind care itself, a follow up should be asked: So, Candidate X, you're basically telling the American people that they are sh*t out of luck on the health care issue, correct? The market works in some ways but it also goes in the wrong direction. We are all paying more and more for less and less when it comes to health care. Make the statement that market forces work and tell it to the millions and millions of Americans who seek low-skill, decent wage work but are being priced out by illegal aliens who are working for a fraction of what Americans would earn for the same jobs.
Third, I didn't like the questions most of the citizens asked, which is a problem for me. I've never been an advocate of screening questions. For far too long, debates have basically been a set up. But again, to come back to the Iraq issue, it has been discussed more than enough. I personally feel for the two women with family members serving who asked about the issue. And, we thank them, and apologize to them, for allowing our nation to put their families in harms way. But those questions had - and have - already been answered. No disrespect, but ma'am, I heard your question answered before you even asked it. At least we got one domestic issue question from Sealander, a question about Darfur - which Biden hit out of the park, showing passion and concern - and a question about the draft - which both Gravel and Kucinich were able to get singles from.
So, over all, not a bad debate but junkies didn't learn much more. And, clearly, we need better questions and the candidates need to be grilled a bit more, too.

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