"What I want to know is..."

by: Matt Stoller

Wed Oct 31, 2007 at 08:21

I found the Presidential debate last night mostly boring, and two hardcore political junkies I watched it with actually fell asleep even though we could TIVO through the most boring parts.  I was pleased to see so much argument about Iran, but the gist of the debate was whether Bush would justify his attack on Iran with the Senate resolution or not.  If there were a Dean in the race, here's what we would have heard.

'What I want to know is why Democrats on this stage are talking about Senate resolutions justifying Bush's attack on Iran as if we have no power to do anything about it.  What I want to know is why the antiwar arguments are coming from Generals and military officers saying they can't attack Iran, instead of politicians elected in 2006 on an antiwar platform.  What I want to know is why Congressmen and women on this stage are not making it clear that an attack on Iran is insane and illegal, and that Bush will face impeachment if he does it.'

The legalistic gamesmanship is so small compared to the office they are trying to seek.  If there were a Dean in the race, a real progressive, that's what we would have heard.  There are marginal differences between the candidates, but all (with the slight exception of Dodd) are playing by Village rules.  That's why Clinton is running away with it.

Imagine if someone had said something akin to what Dean would have said.  Those words imply so much more about that person's politics, their values, and their coalition than a soundbite or a promise to get tough and go negative against Clinton.

Matt Stoller :: "What I want to know is..."

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And if Dean is any indication they also would have lost (0.00 / 0)
And if Dean is any indication they also would have lost against a candidate as poor as Kerry. 

I like Dean and all, but if he had been in the 2008 race he probably would be behind Dodd right now.

Clinton lost the debate (4.00 / 1)
I thought Clinton lost the debate due to her mis-handling of the driver's license question, John Edwards zeroed in with his statement of her taking two different answers in two minutes.

The narrative on the news channels this morning is this question  with Clinton not giving straight answers to questions. This fits the over all narative of Clinton not being honest with the american people.

I think this was Clinton's worst debate performance so far.

[ Parent ]
Good point about Dean (4.00 / 1)
I was an avid Dean supporter. donated and worked for his campaign in California. In the end he won Vermont!

Someone like Dean to come in and say what Matt suggested would win him nothing as Iran is not the only issue on the table. In fact it is far from it. Where does Iran show up in the polls as a main concern of Americans? It doesn't.

I think the blogosphere is way out of touch to make Iran such an issue. Besides there is nothing the blogs can do about it anyway. Unless of course Iran is an issue because of Clinton's vote on a resolution which is probably what all the Iran talk on the blogs is really about. I think that facts are that all the Bush saber rattling is not about attacking Iran - it is about driving up the price of oil for his buddies who profit more the higher the price per barrel goes. So what else is new?

[ Parent ]
Why did you support Dean again???? (4.00 / 1)
The blogosphere makes Iran an issue because we in the blogosphere don't want war with Iran. And we especially don't want a repeat of 5 years ago where much of the Democratic Party and supposed liberal intelligentsia decided it would be prudent to leave matters in the hands of George W. Bush.

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[ Parent ]
Way to go.... (0.00 / 0)
At it again progessivesoul? Back another day to tell millions they are out of touch by talkinga about an issue, while senate is voting about an issue and the media are talking nonstop about this issue.

Clearly we are soooo out touch, but thankfully we have you and you are soooo in touch.

You are clearly a defeatist and one of the DLC parrots.

But keep telling us not to do anything or say anything.

I am sure we're all about to shut up.

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[ Parent ]
I am always amazed (0.00 / 0)
that so many who call themselves Progressives are so angry and  are vehemently opposed to thoughts that are not exactly like their own. Clearly you don't belong to the "Creative Class" that Bowers mentions. Clearly you don't believe in the Big Tent.

Most rational people feel we won't attack Iran because we can't. We don't have the financial or military resources and we would only put our soldiers in Iraq in jeopardy not to mention driving up the cost of oil even more which would likely send world economies into a tail spin. But of course those things are beyond the capability of thought to some.

So many get STUCK in one form of thought and bind themselves to it blocking out all other views. I am reading a book and I saw this paragraph that so accurately describes your reactions:

Specialists who think they know everything
there is to know about a given subject often have great difficulty coming up with innovative ideas and solutions, limited as they are by the conformity of their acquired knowledge.

That is not to say that you are a specialist in foreign policy - that fact is pretty clear. But you do think you know everything there is to know about Iran and as such you dismiss the most logical arguments in favor of one that feeds your anger. According to Gore's book you have tossed out 'reason'.

Think oil prices and you will at the crux of the Bush saber rattling.

If you bothered to read or watch TV you would have seen that oil prices have taken a giant leap and most experts attribute that to the uncertainty of the market due to the Bush saber rattling. Even those who doubt that we would or could attack Iran are quick to jump on an opportunity in the marketplace to increase profits, especially when the guy giving them the opportunity is doing so by design.

But you can't see that at all through your anger. You can't see that through your close mindedness.

[ Parent ]
If you're going to grab the banner of reason (4.00 / 1)
you should talk in terms of what rational people think, rather than what they feel. And maybe not insult people so much. Oh, yeah... and make a coherent argument.

Your feeling that Bush would not take an action that would have enormous negative impact and be of little benefit to American interests is unsupported by available evidence. Most rational people desperately hope that we do not attack Iran, because such an attack would be batshit insane. But there's plenty of reason to conclude that people with power over the military sincerely want to attack Iran, consequences be damned. These same people managed to drag us into an illegal unprovoked invasion and occupation of a sovereign nation, so it's rational to believe that sometimes they get what they want. Not wanting them to get what they want, it's rational to make some noise about how attacking Iran is batshit insane.

[ Parent ]
Wrong again. (0.00 / 0)

You say that I am angry because your thoughts are not exactly like my own.

No. I am disagreeing, and am baffled by your blindness.

Are you new to blogs? If you're new I would excuse everything you have said on this site.

All you're doing is telling us to stop talking, and that we're useless and that we're wrong on Iran.

Well golly gee we're so out of touch that Iran was only one of the most intensely discussed topics last night in the presidential debate!

Are you new to politics too maybe?

I mean that would explain a lot.

We won the Battle. Now the Real Fight for Change Begins. Join MoveOn.org and fight for progressive change.  

[ Parent ]
No one (0.00 / 0)
in any of these debates, is advancing that type of forceful and coherent argument on any issue, and it's infuriating to watch.

One easy way to do this on Iran would be to go after Giuliani and his rabid foreign policy advisors. He should be the primary target and then Hillary the secondary - he's already feeling vulnerable about being too associated w/ the Podhoretzes of the world.

of course (4.00 / 1)
Kucinich said almost verbatim your quote three separate times, specifically calling for impeachment and saying that the planning of war with Iran violates international law and that the Democrats have the power to end the occupation of Iraq, but you were tired and you had a fast forward button.  Also, he saw a UFO so he's deeply unserious.

Edwards pretty much called Clinton out on the Iran thing and made her look silly too by explaining that she decided to "put pressure on Bush" by handing him a resolution "written by the neocons", but BOORRRINGG!!!

And despite all the talk on Iran, it's the driver's license question which made clear for anyone paying attention Clinton's duplicity and doubletalk, and if anything causes plummeting poll numbers, it'll be that.

Insert shameless blog promotion here.

Impact (0.00 / 0)
It remains to be seen how much impact the drivers license "double-talk" will have. I wonder if Iowa and New Hampshire voters are paying nay attention to this debate and the subsequent media coverage.

This was a terrible performance for Hillary Clinton any way you slice it.

Iowa (0.00 / 0)
David Yepsen, the David Broder of the Iowa press corps, called Clinton's performance "uneven" a word he came back to in his assessment.  Yepsen thought that Edwards was the winner but he was almost as hard on Obama as on Clinton.

[ Parent ]
Dean (0.00 / 0)
Dean has a pretty powerful platform right now to speak from.  Why isn't he out front pushing the Impeachment agenda?

Dean (0.00 / 0)
Dean is chair of the DNC. It is not the place of the chair of the DNC to speak out like that. It is his place to organize for victory for the eventual nominee.

Dean is hard at work on the 2007 election.

[ Parent ]
What I Want To Know (0.00 / 0)
What I Want To Know Is, why does Hillary still get to call the war in Iraq "Bush's War" without being laughed out of the room? What I want to know is why do progressives still give her credit for running a "flawless campaign." Isn't voting for a sense of the senate resolution praising a war with Iran while right in the middle of a campaign a flaw? What I want to know is, why are we rushing to nominate another centrist when our last centrist president merely gave the Republicans leeway to yank the country to the far right an then smelling blood a impeaching him for his sexual improprieties. That whole centrist plan worked real well, didn't it? It really appeased them and then they laid off for a while. We need to do that again.

This is why I have no enthusiasm for any of the candidates. (0.00 / 0)
I went to Iowa for Dean but can't find it in me for this group. I was (am) waiting for Gore, but thought, when the last deadline for him entering is past and we find, indeed, he doesn't want to run, I'd support Edwards. But I agree with Kos -- Edwards has taken himself out with public financing (he won't have enough money to respond to Republican attacks before the convention).

That leaves Dodd. I love that his takes the "principled stand" on many progressive issues but does he have the fire in the belly to take the fight to the republicans?

God, I feel like a Cubs fan.

"Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on, or by imbeciles who really mean it." - Mark Twain

Gore's VP = Lieberman (0.00 / 0)

We won the Battle. Now the Real Fight for Change Begins. Join MoveOn.org and fight for progressive change.  

[ Parent ]
Inner narrative and reality (0.00 / 0)
I really have to wonder if you watched the same debate as the rest of us.  I think you have developed your own inner narrative about this race: that no one -- except perhap Dodd, but he isn't perfect either -- has met your criteria for carrying the progressive banner -- and so nothing that occurs can be of value or even of interest regardless of reality.

The debate I saw last night told a completely different story from your inner narrative.  But there's no point in listing what many observers saw, because things that challenge our inner narratives often get dismissed.

John McCain doesn't think kids need health insurance

Dean lost (0.00 / 0)
That is why no one is saying anything like that. That is why netroots is still largely disengaged and why Gore support persists.

A lot more went down in flames in January 2004 than the Dean candidacy, the anti-war movement took a terrible blow.

Majority (0.00 / 0)
The word "movement" implies a ramshackle band of misfits, leaning on each other and inspiring radical change. The anti-war movement is the anti-war majority. And yet the frontrunners of both parties plan on continuing the war for eight more years at least.

[ Parent ]
Clinton on Driver;s licenses. (4.00 / 1)
Matt your girl lost because:

The issue isn't over the substance of her answer, it was her equivocating. For the first time, you could actually see her trying to triangulate. Obama and Edwards hit her not on the substance of her answer, but the equivocation. Take a position and explain WHY that position is the best position under the circumstances. That's what she fails to do, time and again. My guess is that the substantive issue will come up in the primary, but by then it will be a different format and whoever the nominee is, they can tease out their answer better.

[ Parent ]
Triangulation (0.00 / 0)
I loved watching her squirm, but even more, I loved it that Russert, Obama, and Edwards all called her on it, which is what hasn't been happening in the past. And that's what needs to happen from now on.

I've had two conversations this week in which I was told by someone that they were voting for Clinton because she was anti-war. I had to correct them because that's simply a factually incorrect statement. She's a wizard at getting people to think that she agrees with whatever their own position is. Actually, she's not a wizard. She's a female wizard. What's the word for that?

She's a witch.

[ Parent ]
I distinctly heard Edwards, and Kucinich.... (4.00 / 1)
call Clinton out on Iran. Much in the way you suggest. You must have been sleeping. This forum was decent and substantive. Not full of humouros one-liners but we're CHOOSING A CANDIDATE, not watching a sitcom.

Full of interesting interaction, not boring at all unless you live for the zingers which serious politicos do not.

Obama (0.00 / 0)
Obama is no angel on Iran.

He advocated military action on Iran as an option on the table starting a few years ago.

His non-vote on the resolution that Clinton voted for is no badge of honor.

But no one criticizes him for anything - even for teaming up with Donnie.

I know the rationale of everyone attacking Clinton is because she is ahead in the polls - but there is something going on here that is bizarre and not issue oriented. Some of the comments above illustrate this. She is called a "witch".
One writes that "I loved watching her squirm".

I don't feel we have time for this.

I liked it when Biden went after Giuliani.
I liked it when Kucinich kept bringing in reality by advocating impeachment of Bush and Cheney.
I liked it when Clinton went after Bush.

[ Parent ]
Kucinich is worth a mention here. (0.00 / 0)
I believe Kucinich should be given credit for drawing attention to the fact that Russert's framing of the question about Iran was pure neo-con.

In a real "when did you stop beating your wife" question - Russert asked the candidates - or some of them - if they would pledge to provent Iran from acquiring a nukler weapon.

Implicit in the question was the supposition that Iran is in fact seeking to acquire a noocler weapon. You had to accept that premise to address the question from Russert.

Kucinich is the only one to draw attention to this - in the very undemocratically limited time he was allowed by these meglomanic "anchors".

No one asked the bloated Mr. Russert what evidence he had that Iran was pursuing nuclear technology for the purpose of making a bomb.

Are we supposed to accept without question, as pop-eyed Russert does, the assertions put forth by the same people who fed us all that crap about WMD?


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