Sunday, 27 January 2008

South Carolina - not on topic, not much detail.

A few days ago I heard about a debate on CNN between John Edwards, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. I recently watched it on Youtube and made numerous observations.

The Withdrawal
The first observation was the absence of Dennis Kucinich, the person who seems to be forgotten frequently during this campaign. What was the reason for him not being there? Apparently, he has withdrawn from the race after several poor performances in the states who have already voted:
"Kucinich, speaking at a union hall, told supporters who chanted "Dennis, Dennis," that he would work to keep his campaign promises, not as president, but as a member of the U.S. House."
So, he'll continue his work in politics and will stay consistent with his policies. I expect him to get into Congress again.

The Debate
The first part of this televised debate was about fiscal responsibility (which has to be one of the most important topics at the moment) and employment. Hillary Clinton started off strongly, talking a lot about her policies. However, she didn't explain how these policies would be feasibile. The usually eloquent Obama started off shakily and stuttered through the first part of his speech. However, later on he became more analytical. As for John Edwards, it took a long time for him to get involved in this part of the debate, which can't be considered positive. He needs to keep himself in the limelight. He criticised Bush for some of his fiscal decisions, but not as much as Hillary did. He didn't say much about his own policies though. One good point is that he took control when the presenter tried to interrupt him, which gave him a chance to get more of his views across. This part (the first 10 minutes) was won by Hillary in my opinion due to her confidence and concetration on policies.

Clinton then decided to go way off topic and say that Barack Obama's speeches in the US Senate about Iraq did not match his voting decisions. John Edwards talked negatively about Obama and seemed to ignore Clinton, then went to to mention his family history, to give people the impression he understood what they were going through. Obama said the talk should be about policies they should employ, not personbal attacks. However, when he responded to reported criticism that said his policies were feasible, he didn't actually say how they'd work - which was disappointing. He still won this section though as he did try to get the debate back on topic and didn't mention irrelevant family history too much.

The next period was interesting because John Edwards started off extremely weakly. He was clearly sidelined during an argument between Clinton and Obama, who are seen by many to be the top two Democratic candidates. However, when forced into the debate by the presenter he took control and made an extremely strong speech. He felt that the arguments "would not move America forward" and cleverly pushed the debate back on topic. He also explained that he was the candidate who was first with ideas about things such as how to end poverty (this was something he repeated constantly through the entire debate).

The next few sections of the debate were dominated by Obama. The subjects covered included healthcare, voting records in Congress and Iraq. Healthcare was interesting because all three had different policies, but Obama was the only one who didn't want to provide for illegal immigrants. He felt this was necessary due to the country's lack of resources. Clinton and Edwards argued with him about this, but why should you immediately benefit from a system if you didn't enter the country using the appropriate methods? If you then apply for asylum later on and are successful, you should be allowed to benefit though.

I'm surprised Iraq wasn't discussed earlier on as it has been such a hot topic recently. I think Barack Obama was better in this area as he actually got into some detail about the removal of troops and bases. Edwards and Clinton said they wanted to remove troops quickly - but didn't mention how quickly.

Other topics covered included sources of campaign funding, their respective advocates and the voting patterns of African-Americans. It was interesting seeing the arguments between Edwards and Clinton at this stage. Edwards felt that it was wrong to take money from lobbyist groups, but Clinton said that Edwards also did that. However, she failed to realise that there's a big difference between taking money from lobbyist groups and taking money from individuals who work for or are affiliated with those groups.

The questions about African-American voters seemed tailor-made for Obama and gave him a bit more of a platform. It's unfortunate, but as South Carolina has a large African-American population, it was unavoidable. Obama said that it was important to focus on policies, not race or gender (obviosuly the gender issue was focused at Hillary).

There was even time during this debate for several jokes (some at the expense of John Edwards). For example, Obama said it was "a race where you've got a woman, an african-american and John". When asked about whether he thinks Bill Clinton was the first black President, he said that he "has to investigate Bill's dancing abilities before he decides whether Bill was a brother or not".

Towards the end of the debate, Hillary started to get more defensive, Obama appeared even more relaxed and confident and Edwards seemed weaker as he ignored policies and focused on family history. Overall, I believe Barack Obama won with an extremely strong performance. I think it would have been better if all the candidates stuck to the topics though.

The vote
These are the results from the South Carolina primary:
CandidateVote %ageDelegates
Barack Obama5525
Hillary Clinton2712
John Edwards188
According to the Daily Kos, Obama received more votes than all Democrats in the 2004 South Carolina Democratic Primary (292,383) and had more in this primary than George W. Bush received in 2000 when he beat John McCain (Bush won 293,652 votes). It was disappointing for John Edwards as he grew up in this state and won it when he went for election as the Democratic candidate in 2004. Click here to read his post-primary speech.

Anyway, Obama got the most delegates and that's crucial for him. It might give him momentum going before 'Super Tuesday', but pundits and polls have been proved wrong before (Iowa, New Hampshire).

So, what do you think?

Technorati tags: Election, Democrats, USA, Politics, South Carolina


Alfred Thompson said...

Edward's chance to be president this time around are now over. His only hope is to pick up enough votes so that neither of the other two can get a lock on the nomination. That would give him the power to demand a VP position and some input into the platform. If he is elected VP there is time for him to still be president some day. And I think he'd be a good one.
SC showed that Obama is really the "black" candidate which is something Clinton thought she should be. But really things are still much up in the air. Clinton has money and a name and many Democrats are afraid of her. I expect that so-called super Tuesday will be split between Clinton and Obama. But Obama has clearly shown that he can win. The mud that the Clinton's have thrown will not be good for them in the long run. Unfortunatly for Obama these are still a lot of people who will not vote for a woman or an African-American - sad but true. Those people will have to choose and they are likely to go with Clinton. The Democratic party is more racist than they would like you to believe. The Republican party is less racist than people would have you beleive BTW.