Friday, June 29, 2007

"Pander-Fest" Democratic Debate at Howard University

I was going to write about the latest Ann Coulter "kerfluffle" with Edwards, but I caught the Democratic debate on PBS, and wrote some contemporaneous thoughts. I'm bundling them into a post, so forgive the disjointed nature of the commentary. I want to get back to analyzing Ms. Coulter's latest column.

The debate was held at Howard University, a historically Black college. Tavis Smiley was the moderator, and he did a good job of it. The format was three questioners, with one minute responses from each candidate, with Tavis having discretion to alter the format.

When introducing the candidates, several people in the crowd shouted "Obama!" Several of the candidates cited Obama as an example of the "progress made" by Blacks in the US, during the debate.

Candidates who used the word "Black": Biden and Mike Gravel, who actually said "Black African Americans." It should be a minor thing, but there are many who dislike the word "Black" used for Americans of African descent.

Gravel was awesome; a wild card in this group. He and Kucinich were the only ones who didn't seem to pander to the crowd.

On AIDS, Gov.Richardson said "We have to use needles." He also referred to American Blacks as "Africans," but these were simple slip-ups, I think. Kucinich wants to "take the profit out of health care (I'm paraphrasing)," and Gravel went him one further, calling for an end to the "war on drugs," a theme he pounded all night, to a chilly reception.

Hillary came off strong on the AIDS question, and Biden disclosed that he and Obama both have been tested for AIDS. Obama jumped in after Biden's comment, saying that he and his wife got tested while visiting Africa.

Sen. Edwards railed against the 15% capital gains tax rate. Do tell, how much of his income falls into that category? All of the candidates supported taxing the rich more. Gravel said it would never happen, calling for abolition of the income tax. Hillary proposed raising the cap on Social Security taxable income, citing Warren Buffet, who wants to pay Social Security tax on his full millions of dollars of yearly income. The current cap on Social Security tax is the first $95,000 of personal income.

I saw Hill taking notes during Gravel's denying of "outsourcing" as a problem. She said it was, especially for NY. She didn't say that NY's outsourcing problem is to other US states, not India or Mexico. Kucinich wants to cancel NAFTA, WTO, and use environmental, and human rights standards to determine our trade policy. A wacky idea, but it sounds good to any "compassionate" person.

Hill wants a "no-fly zone" in Darfur. Biden wanted ground troops, if that fails. All of the candidates agreed with the "NFZ" prescription, except Gravel, who said "We need a president with moral judgement. Most of the other candidates up here have shown that they lack that."

I wouldn't go that far, but it was quite the pander-fest. I didn't scratch the surface of the hypocrisy in evidence. There were some good points made, as well, even by Hillary, as I stated above. I can't pick a winner, though. It was just too much out of my frame of reference.

I'll explain that in another post, but I'm looking forward to comments on my commentary.

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