Saturday, 23 February 2008

Texas - did we need the debate?

I started watching the Texas Democrat debate on YouTube (one which, like many of the others before, ignored Mike Gravel) and I started wondering if this was going to give information about the candidates that I haven't heard before in the other debates.

The opening statements from Obama and Clinton were interesting. It didn't take long for the former First Lady to mention her successes with healthcare for kids. This is almost getting like Giuliani's 9/11 tourettes! She mentions an old policy numerous times and fails to talk about anything that could be considered recent. She also namechecked two Texans - a former governor (Ann Richards) and Barbara Jordan, who was an ex-President of the Texas state legislature and an ex-US congresswoman:
"And among the people whom I got to know, who became not only friends, but heroes, were Barbara Jordan, who taught me a lot about courage, and today would actually be her birthday. I remember all the time about how she got up every single morning, facing almost insurmountable odds, to do what she did. And another was my great friend Ann Richards, who taught me so much about determination. Ann was a great champion for the people of Texas. She also reminded us that every so often it is good to have a laugh about what it is we're engaged in."
Sure, these two women were clearly great people, but if they were important figures in Clinton's life, why has she only started talking about them now? It's a clear attempt to get applause from the audience. However, I think it would have been better if she talked about policies that would benefit Texas and the whole country.

Obama made a slightly different statement. He concentrated on policy and didn't bother namechecking people. He didn't mention anything that was as old as Hillary's healthcare policy. This made is speech the better one of the two.

One of the first topics that was dicussed was possible negotiations with Cuba. This was raised because of Fidel Castro's recent announcement that he would not be continuing with his job as President of the country. Yes, this was new - but only because Castro's announcement was recent.

It's an interesting subject because it's well-known that the USA have consistently believed that the Cuban people are oppressed. Obama and Clinton agree with that notion, but now that the leadership is going to change, they mentioned negotiations. Hillary wanted talks with Raul Castro, Fidel's brother and heir - but only if they show signs that they want to shift to a democracy. Obama wants unconditional talks. They both agree that there has to be a lot of preparation before any talks happen though and human rights would have to be at the top of any agenda. Obama made the point that the United States should have diplomatic relations with both their enemies and allies. This is a good point because you don't make any progress by only talking to your friends. For this reason, I thought that Obama won that part of the debate.

Despite all that it's important to remember that Cuba is not part of the United States - it is a completely separate country. Why does the US think they should be the ones implementing regime change in a place that they do not control? Also, Castro ended the corrupt second term of Fulgencio Batista that was supported by the United States for six years. Castro has also decided to step down when he is ill, instead of foolishly trying to hold on to something that requires a good level of health. The travel embargo was enforced by the United States, not Cuba. If that wasn't in place, innocent people would still be free to move. Yes, Cuba is under Communist leadership, but it's not exactly the same as the situation in the former Soviet Union.

The next topic was immigration. I can understand it being mentioned because Texas has a border with another country (Mexico) and there is a high number of illegal immigrants getting through. Both felt that there needed to be a significant policy change. They felt that legalisation needed to be an option that was available to all and that there needed to be an end to the hate crime that hispanics suffer from. They both felt that the United States should help it's neighbour improve it's employment opportunities aswell. It was hard to see the differences, so I thought it was a draw.

The economy was discussed (yet again) and that was added to the list of topics that have be mentioned ad nauseum. What is the point of having all these debates if we are just going to hear the same old material? The only people that benefit from them at the moment are some of the audience at the venue, because they will probably only go to one of them. The TV and internet audience have this pushed down their throats repeatedly.

There are two possible solutions. One would be to have a single debate. Another idea would be to have multiple debates, with each one having a different focus. The advantage of the former is that the whole process would be shorter. The benefit of the latter is that there is a reason for people to view all the debates. The first option could be difficult though - television networks would be constantly battling for the chance to host the debate.

It will be interesting to see what happens after the Democrat and GOP conventions. There will be debates featuring candidates from both major parties. The same subjects will probably be discussed, but there will be a different dynamic. I can only hope that there won't be as many debates at that stage.

So, what do you think?

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


Son Of PissedOffTeeacher said...

I can't believe everyone is buying into what was said in that debate. Both candidates contradicted themselves regularly, and when they weren't they were just wrong. Read all the issues with their answers here: