Thursday, January 31, 2008

Super Tuesday Debate

Just finished watching the Super Tuesday debate and I have to say Sen. Obama won quite handily for one simple reason: he forced Sen. Clinton to play at his level. Most of Sen. Obama's campaign has focused on change: change in trajectory, change in leadership, change in mindset, change in participation. Part of Sen. Obama's platform has been to force the other candidates to play at a level above that of the typical political games. Sen. Obama, by remaining calm and reposed, was able to tackle even the toughest questions and put forth politically risky answers. What that resulted in was a response by Sen. Clinton to rely more and more on belated answers while Sen. Obama maintained a measured and crisp response. The zingers by both candidates were witty and humorous but, personally, I thought Sen. Obama's quips had more substance. The one remark in particular, that it is better to be right on the first day in office, was a deep wound to Sen. Clinton's argument for her experience. Never bitter, Sen. Obama kept a civil tone while exposing Sen. Clinton's weaknesses. Moreover, Sen. Obama took the bite out of Sen. Clinton's criticisms through that civility.
On some key point, Sen. Obama made policy remarks that I dearly wish he would give some of the backing logic for. Both his plan for voluntary health insurance while tamping down health premiums and his agreement with the issuing of driver's licenses to illegal immigrants have a clever logic behind them that belie Sen. Obama and his staff's intelligence. The issue of universal healthcare is one that Sen. Obama obviously cares about, but he has shown through his plan the realization that he cannot ramrod a huge bill through Congress all at once. By take the tact of bringing down healthcare costs first he makes a better argument for providing affordable universal healthcare, both for individual citizens and for the federal government itself. On the issue of driver's licenses, Sen. Obama again shows a practical first step towards achieving immigration reform. By urging illegals to obtain licenses the state and federal government have the ability to build a database of illegals and who to target once immigration reform is brought to the table.
Sen. Obama did very well tonight, though whether that will significantly improve his chances come Super Tuesday is questionable. I thought he outperformed Sen. Clinton on most issues and displayed a knowledge of policy that's necessary while not descending into the realm of wonkishness. Overall, I think Sen. Obama will come out of this week and next in a far better position. If the idea of a so-called 'dream ticket' becomes a reality, I think it will come in the form of an Obama-Clinton one.

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