The South Carolina debate 21 January among the three "presidential" democrats left standing (roughing it in Myrtle Beach) and sponsored by CNN and the congressional black caucus was a bit more like a catfight than a debate. The fight was mostly between Senators Clinton and Obama, while John Edwards sort of became a spectator much of the time. It was also a commemoration of Dr. Martin Luther King, whose name must have been invoked dozens of times, just as the republicans in their debates have practically worn out the name, Ronald Reagan.
A strange thing has happened on the way to the nomination. Whereas democrats, even though taking them for granted, have pandered to blacks for decades, blatantly used them and their churches as grossly illegal (tax-exempt) campaign venues and played upon racism as peculiarly republican, now are embroiled in a mutual battle to determine who among them is the blackest and therefore the most viable in furthering African-American causes. Instead of playing the "race card" on the republicans, the democrat candidates are playing it on each other. Hilarious!
Even though some polls have indicated that Edwards would have the best shot nationally (rurally) against John McCain (though not in the biggest cities and their states), Clinton and Obama obviously conceive of themselves as the only viable candidates – and they're probably right. So…their fight is mostly with each other, and their spin on both the issues and their competence – particularly, as always, in light of their previous records – is amusing to watch. The funniest statement in this regard was consistently from Clinton, who insisted upon her sixteen years of political activity (obviously dating from 1992 when hubby Bill won all the marbles), though she didn't hold any elective office until 2001. At least she’s discarded her 35-year claim of tenure as…well, whatever.
Obama strangely continues to claim his official opposition to the Iraq action as a campaign tool (both Clinton and Edwards voted for it), but doesn't mention that he didn't make it to the Senate to vote on anything until 2005. He doesn’t know how he would have voted, of course, since he would not have been availed of the information that the other senators had. His weirdest statement came near the end of the shooting-match when he alluded to the "fear-mongering," ostensibly among the republicans but also directed at his adversaries, since 9/11. Since 9/11? He hasn’t been in a cave, so, charitably, maybe he should be given some slack as simply committing a "slip of the tongue."
Things began with the domestic scene, the possible (actually hoped-for) recession in the offing, but the candidates did what they always do, notwithstanding the schoolteacher-ish admonitions of the conveners (in this case the bewhiskered Wolf Blitzer), by turning the question/answer format into campaign speeches. With the members of the black caucus seated on the front row, they did manage to extol the ways they would give money to eligible citizens to spend the economy into robustness, nay-saying the same proposition by the administration as being too selective and non-inclusive of the "right" folks. Inclusiveness is, of course, the politically-correct term in any conversation these days, no matter the subject. It's almost as important as "diversity" and "multiculturalism," practically intoned now as sacramental language.
The three gave "diverse" ways of getting out of Iraq, but made it plain that getting out is virtually first on their agendas, though getting all the way out was obviously problematical for them, except for Edwards, who made it plain that his presidency would completely wash its hands of Iraq, come hell or high water. One suspects he's forgotten the American GIs (now some 30,500 of them) in South Korea for 57 years and counting, as well as those in Germany for well over 60 years. This writer was called to the phone for some 30 minutes or so and thus missed some of the contretemps, but probably only the different shades of wrangling and therefore not much substance.
The mudslinging will intensify. Clinton mentioned Obama's "lawyer-work" for a Chicago slum-lord and his inconsistency on the Iraq action, as well as his reference to Reagan (a wild "spin") in a recent speech. Much has already been made of her charge (true) that MLK's success in gaining civil rights was engineered through Congress by Lyndon Johnson. Bill Clinton's "fairy-tale" accusation regarding Obama was re-spun by Hillary, so the waters remain murky with that.
The notion that any of the three could be president is scary. Each made it plain, especially with the black caucus in the front row, that the objective is to make this country into the most humongous and wimpy welfare-state on the planet. The fear-mongering they whipped up with regard to the economic situation stood in bold relief against the fear-mongering Obama mistakenly claimed in his debate swan-song.