Sunday :: May 4, 2003

First Dispatches from South Carolina


by Steve

Well, the debate in South Carolina is over, and if you can get past the “Democrats are in disarray and squabbling amongst themselves” and “Bush will mop the floor with them” tone from both the Washington Post and New York Times dispatches, two things come out of the debate that will stick in my craw.

First, Lieberman tried to score points at the expense of his fellow Democrats twice tonight by sounding like a Republican. Both of the things he said turn my stomach at their brazen pandering to the right wing of the country, and for saying them while smearing fellow Democrats, all I can say is Go to Hell Joe Lieberman!

Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (D-Conn.) pointedly criticized former Vermont governor Howard Dean for opposing the war in Iraq and attacked Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) for seeming to be ambivalent about supporting Bush on the war. "No Democrat will be elected president in 2004 who is not strong on defense, and this war was a test of that strength," he said.

(Lieberman) said both Dean and Kerry were sending "an uncertain message: one in principled opposition the war, the other an ambivalence about the war, which will not give people confidence about the party's ability to make tough decisions to protect their security."

So according to Joe, whatever Israel wants in the region is equated to being strong on defense? Blowing up Iraq is a test of strength? Great.

Lieberman jumped in to attack Gephardt's plan as one that would take the country back to the days of big government. "We're not going to solve these problems with the kind of big-spending Democratic ideas of the past," he said.

Now surely Lieberman was tailoring his message to the South Carolina demographic. But it is pathetic to attack Gephardt for trying to tackle health care with a line that could have been written by the GOP, and utter hypocrisy for Lieberman to criticize Gephardt when he himself has yet to put forward his own comprehensive health care plan.

The second guy who wins my bobby prize tonight for playing into the GOP’s hands is John Edwards, who attacked Gephardt’s plan to roll back the Bush tax cuts to pay for health care coverage:

Senator John Edwards of North Carolina described the Gephardt plan as a giveaway that "takes money directly out of the pockets of working people, and I know it gives it to corporations."

But Edwards and Lieberman both smeared Gephardt’s plan without offering one of their own, while giving soundbites to the GOP.

Lieberman said he was unwilling to raise taxes to pay for health coverage. Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina questioned a plan that would leave the decisions to "big corporate America and assume that they do the right thing. That sounds like Reaganomics to me."

Swell. Tell me Senator Edwards, in your mad dash to be the most populist candidate in the race, can you point me to your own efforts since you’ve been in the Senate to address the problem of the uninsured? Where is your detailed proposal for this problem?

As for you Senator Lieberman, to roll back Bush tax cuts that haven’t worked yet that many of us haven’t seen yet, this is a tax increase? And even if it was, you say you are unwilling to raise taxes to provide health insurance for the uninsured? Then what spending to you propose to reorganize or cut to provide insurance for the uninsured? Or do you, like the GOP you emulate, even care about this issue?

But it sounds like Gephardt, even though targeted by guys who haven’t offered their own proposals yet, had a good night.

Gephardt defended his proposal, arguing that his plan would stimulate the economy and contending that the Bush tax cuts have been a failure. He made his case with a call to his fellow Democrats.

"I think if we're going to win this election, we cannot be Bush-lite," said Gephardt, the former House Democratic leader from Missouri. "We can't come along and say, 'Well, I'll keep half the Bush tax cut, or I'll keep three quarters of the Bush tax cut. The Bush tax cuts have failed. They are not making the economy better, they are not helping people get jobs, they're not covering anybody with health insurance."

Good for Dick.

Yes, Dean and Kerry went after each other, with Kerry wearing his “Mr. X (fill in the name) has no standing to question my patriotism/courage blah blah blah” attack line a little thin.

But the first event is over, and we can all sit back and watch the Beltway types bash each candidate with a level of scrutiny and criticism they never apply to Bush.

And yes, I will get over my hostility to the comments from Holy Joe and Populist Johnnie eventually. But those two tonight were just plain pathetic. It makes the clash between Kerry and Dean somewhat refreshing.

Steve :: 12:32 AM :: Comments (14) :: Digg It!