Friday, 1 February 2008

Obama vs Clinton - the CNN debate

You can see the first part of the debate here. There are links to the other parts here.

The has to have been the tightest debate I've seen so far. There were so many of the topics where both of the candidates were even, but I think Obama was the overall winner. He won more of the topic discussions and also appeared more natural. Hillary did well, but everything seemed rehearsed and not from the heart. I think it's important that the leader of a country should know what they are saying and also believe in it.

It's also important to note that, early on, both of the candidates made frequent references to John Edwards in terms of campaign strategy and policies. Both of them saying things like that makes me think that it's even more likely that he'll be a VP pick. If he isn't (some people think a good VP pick would be Bill Richardson because of the hispanic vote), then I think he'll have a place on the cabinet - possibly in a role where he can work on his central issue - poverty.

One of the first topics that was discussed was the policy differences between Clinton and Obama. It's an important question because if none of the voters can tell the difference, they won't know who's best for the job. There's no guarantee that both people will be involved with the cabinet.

One of the differences is on healthcare. Clinton wants to introduce caps on healthcare premiums so that it can become more affordable for everyone. She also wants a tailor-made system where those who are satisfied with their healthcare aren't affected, but the people who benefit are those who aren't happy. After that she went on to talk about her past achievements (neatly moving past her failures and focusing on how she got her kids healthcare proposal approved).

Obama disputes a well-used statistic about there being 15m people who don't want healthcare. He thinks that the 15m are actually people who can't afford it. Obama also disputes Hillary's details about healthcare subsidies. He thinks that they do work, but doesn't explain why.

I think Obama won this section because cuts on premiums will appeal to a lot of people and he also offered more statistical analysis. I think that Hillary's approach to universal healthcare is flawed because she wants to provide for illegal immigrants - they aren't legitimate citizens and they don't pay anything. Why should they benefit?

Obama answered first and said that the USA needs to control it's borders (obvious statement, but I guess it needed to be mentioned). Obama also felt that there needs to be a crackdown on those employers who exploit the immigrants and don't charge them the minimum wage. A lot of these people won't necessarily have the confidence to speak up for themselves, so it's definitely a positive statement. He also suggested that there should be opportunities for them to become US citizens and learn English. These ideas have been suggested/implemented in Britain and providing they are properly implemented, they are good policies.

When Hillary answered this question she offered nothing new. In other parts of this debate she has said she agrees with Obama if there's no difference between the two. However, this time she said the same things with a different word order - therefore trying to make people think it's something better. This was a bad move in my opinion, but unfortunately I don't think everybody will notice what she did.

I think this part of the debate was won by Obama.

'Tax and spend Democrats'
This wasn't exactly a tough question to answer. Under the Bush administration, the US economy has gone down the toilet - partially because of the huge amounts of spending on the war in Iraq. John McCain said in the past that it was irresponsible to cut taxes when going into war (although now he approves of Bush's extensions to those tax cuts). Both of them took full advantage of the opportunity, so I think that this round was even.

The War in Iraq
It has been clear from the beginning that they both want to withdraw the troops. However, you'll notice that in a previous blog post I mentioned that Obama has offered more specific details (going into timelines about e.g. removing brigades). All Clinton has done is say that she wants the troops out quickly and she will start that process within the first 60 days of her term in office.

In this particular debate, we finally heard some more details about her plans. She also felt that it had to be planned properly. This statement would go towards explaining why she hasn't been specific in the past. However, Iraq and the war on terror is such a hot topic, so I would have thought it'd be better to sort out your plans early on.

There was a point about her initially approving the President's decision to go into Iraq without Congressional approval. She was asked if she felt that was a naiive decision. It's stupid to ask that - Hillary would never say that she was naiive on national TV. She said she was acting on all the information that she had at the time.

However, I feel that Congress is there for a reason. Without Congress there would be a dictatorship. Such a major decision should always go through a body like Congress. Obama seems to feel that way because he repeatedly said he has been consistent from the beginning on this issue (he disapproved of the invasion both then and now).

Due to him highlighting his consistency and Hillary trying to avoid questions, I feel that Obama won this round.

Other issues
The above issues have been covered in many of the previous debates, so it was refreshing to hear a new question - it was about the levels of sex and violence in Hollywood. Obama won this round because he was the only one to answer. He felt that censorship was partly the responsibility of the parents and he also said that adverts for things like horror films should not be shown in the middle of family programming (this was basically a swipe at the television networks that allow this to happen).

As I said earlier, it was one of the closest debates, but I felt that Obama won.

So, what do you think?

Technorati tags: USA, Election, Politics, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama