BY JONATHAN VALANIA They are already calling it The Gotcha Debate. Lucky us! First up, we discuss how Obama is a latte-sipping, Volvo-driving, NPR-listening, America-hatin’ so-and-so and why that is so bad, and don’t you agree Hillary? Stephanopoulos just asked Obama if Reverend Wright loves America as much as he does. What next, loyalty oaths? Dude volunteered to go to Vietnam, George, where were you?
Now for a brief yet pointless detour into vox populi with a coupla questions from embittered Pennsyltuckians. Joe Stupid Sweater from Pittsburgh wants to know why Hillary lied about sniper fire in Bosnia and what she was gonna do to get his vote back. Wonder how his mortgage is doing? Wonder if his kids have heath care? Or will they ever be able to possibly pay for college? No matter, there will surely still be a need for fresh, warm bodies in Iraq, so it’s not like they won’t have any prospects. With all due respect, sir, you had ONE chance in your lifetime to ask what may well prove to be the next President of the United States just ONE question, and this is what you want to know? You deserve to live in Pittsburgh. Enjoy your recession.
Next up, Sally Apple Cheeks from Latrobe, PA, wants to know why Obama never wears a flag pin, and just to be clear, she is not — NOT — questioning his patriotism. Once again, I have to ask: You had ONE chance in your lifetime to ask what may well prove to be the next President of the United States just ONE question, and this is what you want to know? With all due respect, please shut up and sit down.
I must be high, because I swear I just heard Stephanopoulos ask if Obama is gonna apologize for the inflammatory comments of some professor that lives up the street who was a radical in the 60s. What are we retrying the Chicago 7 again? What in the hell does that have to do with why average Americans have been getting a raw deal for going on 30 years? I thought that was what all that blah, blah, blah about guns and bitterness was all about in the first place? This is so confusing — Hillary, bad; Obama, super-bad — I’ll probably just vote for McCain to be safe. He reminds me of my grandfather. He HATED hippies. Four more wars! Four more wars! Five minutes later I get an email from the Obama campaign pointing out that the Clintons actually pardoned all those traitors in the Weathermen. And… a commercial break.
Now they want to know if Hillary Clinton thinks she is smarter than General Petraeus. That’ll show her! Also, will she pledge — READ MY LIPS-stye — no new taxes? Who wrote these questions? Newt Gingrich? Seriously, this debate is a new low for the media. Didn’t Stephanopoulos used to work for the Clintons — work to get them elected? serve as their spokesman and trusted adviser? — how can he be the guy asking the questions now? Why not just get Carvile and Begala in here, too. And tell ‘em to bring beer,’cuz it’s gonna be a long night if we are gonna finally settle the 60’s.
Now they wanna know if the candidates are going to raise the Capital Gains Tax — hmmm, now THAT means a lot to those God, Guts & Guns voters that are so bitter. I can’t help but think they would be less bitter if we rolled back the Capital Gains tax that is so obviously keeping the workin’ man down. Isn’t it finally time we lifted this onerous boot off the neck of Joe Six Pack and Jane Lunchpail? (The problem with rolling back the Capital Taxes and letting the good times roll again, economically speaking, in all those dead-eyed, fucked-over smalltowns is that you wind up with nation of unarmed atheists. It’s robbing Peter to pay Paul, when you think about it.) Now they want to know why Obama wants to ban all handguns! Sweet Jesus. Why not just put a turban on him and bring in the cave backdrop? Then a brief respite from the gotcha, some quick questions on fluff like energy crisis and the health care crisis. Frankly, I think this debate has served nobody — not the candidates (though I would give the advantage to Hillary on this one) nor the American people — like it has served John McCain. Stop the Silly Season, Dr. Dean, I wanna get off. Enough debates already, let’s vote!
POSTSCRIPT: I know I promised an update on the size of Howard Fineman’s ass, but I got distracted by Mo Dowd, who’s got a MUCH better ass than Howard Fineman.
LIVE & DIRECT: From The City Dem Debate Watch & Afterparty
BY NICK POWELL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT With all eyes on the big screen at the Cebu lounge, supporters of both Senator Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton watch as the two Democratic heavyweights duke it out on the debate floor. However, with Obama supporters the clear majority, it would seem almost pointless for Senator Clinton to show her face here at this upscale Old City lounge, as is the rumor buzzing around. The lack of Clinton supporters was immediately evident, when the emcee of the event asked, “Are there any Hillary supporters in the house?” and was met with deafening silence. Several Clinton fans are surprised that there is so little Clinton support, considering that this is an event meant to unite the Democratic Party. Truth be told, it seems that the only Clinton supporters in the house are standing in my small blogging corner at the bar.
Amidst the raucous cheers when Senator Obama declared his fitness for the White House, was the head shaking of a middle-aged Clinton couple. The wife, Karen, spoke to me before the debate about Obama’s ability to captivate an audience despite her adamant support of Senator Clinton, while the husband, Tom, expressed the difficulty he would have voting for a candidate whose last name evokes the memories of a certain Al-Qaeda terrorist. Not long after, an exceptionally cute bartender named Rachel snuck over and discussed her desire for a Clinton white house because of how happy it would make her grandmother. “She always reminds me to register to vote, she’s so cute,” she said. That is not to say that Obama and Clinton supporters can’t party together. Tom is chatting it up with a man wearing an Obama pin in between bites of delicious pork dumplings, and a pair of female Clinton-t-shirt-wearers are sharing cocktails with a young, black Obama duo. Swelling the ranks of the Obama contingent are several Philadelphia councilmen and ward leaders, including Councilman Bill Green, a noted Obama endorser. Indeed, while Clinton may have the edge statewide, in this Old City hotspot, Barack Obama has already won.
MEOW MIX: Like The Time Chelsea Clinton Dissed The Scholastic Reporter, Only Funnier
BY AMY Z. QUINN Over at OpenLeft.com, Natasha Chart recounts her effort to get a quote out of Maureen Dowd at the Democratic debate Wednesday night — an exchange I witnessed in its entirety. She’s right about every bit of it, down to the contrast between MoDo, who minced around the press room in an expensive-looking (if oddly bedazzled) sweater, and Candy Crowley, who spent the debate tapping away on her keyboard and prepping for her live shot by fixing her makeup in a compact mirror.
Then Valania suggested that I ask Maureen Dowd what she thought, since she was coming our way. I scanned the direction I was more or less facing, as he indicated, spotted her, then looked back at him. She wasn’t that far away, our eyes briefly met, she must have gotten a load of my bleached buzzcut or something, and then she pretty much kept staring most the rest of the way over to where she’d have to file past me in our narrow confines. It made me kind of twitchy.
I once heard Sean Penn described as a person who seemed like he was always looking at a menu in a restaurant where he didn’t like the food. That does well to describe the expression on Dowd’s face as she looked at me. It wasn’t hard to catch her eye when she got close and I turned from my conversation with Valania to ask if she had time for a couple questions, because she was still staring at me sideways like she couldn’t believe her eyes.
“I’ve got to go to the spin room,” she said, raising a warding hand with haughty languor. She sauntered off with her entourage, surveilled the back section of the room for a scosh, and then headed off to be spun. Well.
I wonder what Maureen Dowd would write about someone who acted like that towards her?
(For contrast, I also didn’t get to ask Candy Crowley even a single question. But that’s because she was intently working the whole time I was anywhere near her, barely noticing anyone at all who wasn’t staffed with her. When I have the look on my face that she did, I can’t stand being interrupted, so I didn’t interrupt her. And I don’t feel snubbed in the slightest thereby.)
In fairness, I would point out to Chart that Dowd wasn’t on deadline last night, and Crowley was, hence the difference in the kind of work they were doing at the debate site. And also, I’m certain Dowd has been snubbed like that any number of times in her career — it comes with the job — but there’s no excuse for bad manners.
Photo by Jonathan Valania