Nick’s Analysis of the CNN / YouTube Debate

Obama, Richardson, Biden and Kucinich, prior to the CNN / YouTube debate Monday night.

The Democratic party has become so rotted out and ineffectual that I watched the CNN / YouTube debate not from a position of sympathy but from the perspective of wanting to see them pinned down and held to account. I want debates to make them squirm, and I want to make them answer the f@#king question, and enforce with a baseball bat if necessary. 😛

Why does the mainstream media always say Hillary “looked the most presidential?” What does that even mean? the most aloof? the most regal? are we electing a monarch?

I may never get past Hillary blaming the victim (Iraq) in previous debates, saying that the U.S. did everything right and the problem is that the Iraqis won’t step up. You can’t get much more cruel and unfair than that. WE preemptively invaded their country, killed tens or even hundreds-of-thousands of Iraqis, burned their infrastructure, and took the Sunni-Shia power pyramid that had been entrenched for like a millennium, and turned it upside-down; and we’re surprised that the aftermath is messy? We are such assholes. It’s like drop-kicking a dude in the balls and then talking smack about him because he can’t finish the track marathon on our timer.
Hillary was more subtle in blaming the Iraqis in this debate but it was still there.

I can only hope and pray we avoid inflicting worse damage to the Iraqis in the future.

Senator Joe Biden was at the debate. He said his plan is to divide Iraq into three states, which, while I had suggested going with this idea initially, it would be a disaster if he forces it on them against their will, which he suggests we do immediately as the “ONLY solution.” After browsing Iraqi bloggers, it’s clear that most Iraqis are nationalists (not regionalists) and will not tolerate losing their land; they won’t let the U.S. forcibly break apart their country. None of the biggest groups in Iraq, the ruling Dawa party, or, perhaps more importantly, the Sadrists, will stand idly by and allow this.

We’ve GOT to stop treating the Iraqis like children and trying to tell them how to run their country. This is the nation that pwnd the Roman Empire, these are the Babylonians who had gleaming cities, cuneiform and a code of law back in the 31st century BC, when Biden’s ancestors were running around Ireland in loincloths with basic flint tools.
Rome couldn’t subjugate the
Mesopotamians, the British couldn’t subjugate them, and they were much more skilled and devoted imperialists than we are.
You aren’t going to bend Mesopotamians to your will, period.

As I’ve said from the start, we need to get the F out and let the Iraqi people decide their future. It won’t be pretty, it will be horrific, there will be extremists purging other extremists even more than now, it will be partly cloudy with scattered genocide, but unlike our plan, it will have a beginning, middle and an end. Right now we are indefinitely delaying the inevitable in order to indefinitely loot and exploit Iraq. At least the bloody conclusion after we leave will be an Iraqi solution that the tribes will accept more readily than our newbie imperialist bullshit. Western powers drawing fake borders on Arab tribes? Brilliant! That’s what caused this mess in the first place (thanks Great Britain!)

What struck me most about the CNN / YouTube debate was the candidates’ continued talking about Iraqis as though they are children, and telling them how to run their country. “Iraq has to be this way or that way, we must do this or that or the other thing”—SHUT UP! We can’t even run our own damn country, and now we have to run Iraq too? Please! I really resent the government wasting countless lives and countless billions of our money ruining Iraq when there are desperate unmet needs on the homefront (chiefly health care).

The context and subtext of many of the candidates’ narratives is “how can we avoid admitting the bloggers and hippies were right all along about Iraq? I don’t want to sound like a hippie. I don’t want to be labeled weak or blamed for a defeat!”

They are hippie-phobic, and too often putting politics before principle.

They also need to stop treating us, the American people, like children. We can handle the truth. If someone would step up and say: “look, we can’t force our will on the Iraqis. And since we can’t accomplish anything further, the only responsible course is to stop wasting blood and treasure and leave” then I think Americans would accept it, and be grateful for some truth.

In the CNN / YouTube debate, Dennis Kucinich told the truth when he said “the Democrats have failed the American people.” Kucinich is one of the few fringers who, like me, opposed this war from the very start and fought it in every way possible, every step of the way. In the debate Monday he represented our side ably, and I think made some big gains. His “strength through peace” line was excellent, and I wish more candidates were as hardcore about ending the war as he is.

But who “won” the debate? If you’re looking for the most polished and poised candidate, the best style then Hillary was #1.

But I’m looking for substance.

On the things I care about most, here is how I rank the debate:

1) Barack Obama.
He hasn’t done well in the previous debates because his style is to build momentum over a detailed 15-minute speech, something impossible with the debate format of “30-second answer and you’re done.” So in the past he has looked flat and unclear.
But not tonight. He improved dramatically, I thought. He made the case well that he can build a movement to bring real change. It seems he may be our best bet to make a difference.

And he seems strong without being mean-spirited.

Like this, the best jab at Hillary all night:

“But, you know, one thing I have to say about Senator Clinton’s comments a couple of moments ago. I think it’s terrific that she’s asking for plans from the Pentagon, and I think the Pentagon response was ridiculous. But what I also know is that the time for us to ask how we were going to get out of Iraq was before we went in. (APPLAUSE) And that is something that too many of us failed to do. We failed to do it. And I do think that that is something that both Republicans and Democrats have to take responsibility for.” Transcript

Hillary got BaROCKED

2) I rank Kucinich second. I really want to end this war, and he isn’t afraid to stand up for his principles.

3) I rank John Edwards a strong third. He gained with me with his willingness to take on the entrenched plutocrats, and he scored the best line on health care of the night when he brought up the story of James Lowe, a man in Virginia who couldn’t get his cleft palette repaired so he could talk for FIFTY YEARS. He was genuinely outraged, as he should be, and even though the debate spent scant time on health care, he was able to break through.

4) Bill Richardson. I’ve got to give him props for his “no residual troops in Iraq” pledge.

5) Hillary. She wins on style points, but I still can’t forgive her for blaming the Iraqis, which is like burning someone’s house, then criticizing the victims for not putting it out in time.

6) Joe Biden, He doesn’t understand Iraq. Go away.

7) Mike Gravel. I love his passion, but at times he sounds like a crank, yelling “damn kids, get off my lawn!!!”

8) Chris Dodd. Senator Dodd would probably make a good president; he’s got a Kennedyesque thing going on. I like it. But he can’t move beyond lengthy, ponderous Senate speak, and he sounds like a legislator talking as though it is 1961 at a time of relative peace and prosperity , not 2007 during a Constitutional crisis. Dodd did particularly poorly Monday, and I don’t think he will be able to compete in this sound bite culture.

But, as many have pointed out, the YouTube questioners stole the show.
They injected some heart and some REALITY into the process, and CNN picked good questions and really made the candidates squirm.

Every debate should be a YouTube debate.

By the way, you can watch it here.