I have to say, I think it's a bit of a chuckle that Richardson is still in it. Does he have a following? Bill Richardson came in fourth place in Iowa... but with 2% of the vote. I suppose that if I look back not too far, some of our former Presidents did about as well. Bill Clinton comes to mind... maybe Richardson's hoping for something like that?
The debate format was good - it was interesting. And the moderator managed to ask some pointed questions about important topics. He opened up the debate by asking about nuclear terrorism, which was a whopper of a start. He said that Osama bin Laden thinks it his religious duty to get nuclear weapons and wanted to know how the candidates will deal with the issue.
Barack Obama stands by a previous statement that we should go into Pakistan to go after Al Qaeda if we have "actionable intelligence" whether Pakistan agrees or not. The moderator asked him if that wasn't then agreeing with the Bush doctrine of preemption, but Obama says no. Barack Obama said that we need to be working on pushing through a nuclear proliferation treaty as well -- and that we need to find all the floating nukes out there.
Edwards said that if he knew where Osama bin Laden was, he would get him. Period. Of course, he said, "Git 'im. Period," all while blinking very rapidly. But it's all the same thing. Edwards said that what we're doing now we should be doing for the short term. But we shouldn't be doing it for the long term because it doesn't work for the long term. He then went on to say that what we need to do for the long term is eliminate nuclear weapons from the world. Yes, this is really his big idea for the long term. Of course, nobody brought up the fact that if we rid the WORLD of nuclear weapons, this also means we get rid of ours. And then the BAD GUYS can always make some more. This is like telling the American people they need to give up their guns for their own safety... meanwhile, the criminals are all armed and the law abiding citizens are more defenseless than ever. Which, I guess, is another Democrat position. But I digress...
Bill Richardson answered the same question by saying that he would use... (drum roll here) DIPLOMACY. He says that the last thing we need in the Muslim world is another action like Iraq which is going to "inflame" the Muslim world. He says that a president must have a foreign policy with "principles" and "realism." I don't know about you, but I think that everybody has "principles." The question is whether one operates off of good, healthy principles or bad, destructive ones. Unfortunately, Mr. Richardson pretty much leaves us in the dark as to his. Except for his "principle" firm belief in his own diplomatic skills. He moves on a bit to say that with Musharraf, we have the worst of all worlds - and then describes what a bad, bad leader Musharraf is. (I don't have disagreement with the fact that Musharraf is not a nice guy, by the way.) But Richardson's solution? "What I would specifically do as President is I would ask Musharraf to step aside." Oh... I'm sorry. I should have called for a drum roll right before that bright idea. While we're at it, we should ask Putin to step aside as well because he's been kind of naughty, too. :-) In all reality, I have a terribly difficult time taking Richardson seriously. Does it show? Really, if I have to hear ONE MORE TIME how he went head to head with the Koreans and got back the remains of our soldiers, I just might lose whatever meal I most recently ate.
Clinton agreed that nuclear terrorism is the most direct threat to the United States. She then goes on to say that they took action on this about ten years ago, sending missiles in to try to target bin Laden and his cronies at a meeting where "actionable intelligence" suggested he might be. She says they were not taken out at the time (duh). And then she goes on to say that we have to be very conscious of the consequences. She also claims that bin Laden has regrouped and Al Qaeda is functioning because we did not commit enough troops to aggressively go after him in Afghanistan when we had a chance. She then calls for more NATO troops. She said, too, that she would work very hard to get Musharraf to share the security of the nuclear weapons with a delegation from the US and Great Britain. She also called Afghanistan the "forgotten front line in the war against terrorism... because the Bush administration has walked away." The problem with this statement is that I was just watching a briefing with a general from Afghanistan on C-Span this afternoon. I didn't see much, but from what I saw, they are claiming that things there are going well. But Al Qaeda has moved into Pakistan, and the Pakistani government will not allow the United States to go in. If the Pakistani government won't even allow our troops to cross their border, how likely is Hillary Clinton or Bill Richardson to get Musharraf to go along with their plans? Richardson thinks he can just politely ask Musharraf to "step aside." Arrogance, anyone? Hillary thinks that she can get Musharraf to go along with having the United States and Great Britain keep watch over their nukes. Really??
On to domestic policy!! Social Security, health care...
Basically, there was agreement all around that the Bush tax cuts for the "wealthiest Americans" needed to go.
And there was a lot of talk about "change." Argument about who knows more about change than another person -- who just talks about it, and who can actually implement change. There was a very fun exchange between Edwards and Hillary about change. Edwards accused Hillary of attacking the people calling for change because she's the status quo... and she wasn't very happy about that accusation at all.
Regarding health care, Hillary Clinton and John Edwards both think that the government needs to mandate health care for all Americans. Obama believes that the government needs to require that children be covered, but that adults should be able to choose for themselves. Of course, he says that he believes that people will choose health care and that's why he doesn't need a mandate in his plan. So by this, one could reasonably assume that Obama thinks that adults will choose health care for themselves because it's the smart thing to do -- but that they won't get health care for their children unless the government forces them to. What kind of people does he think we are? The complete absence of "liberty" and "freedom" as concepts in this debate staggers me.
I guess that would be one of the main reasons why I don't vote for Democrats as a rule. I don't find that they stand for freedom and liberty.
I wish I could say differently for the Republican party, but I'm wondering about them, too. I've yet to see the results of the N.H. primary...
Well, that's all for tonight. More later.