Brian Williams, the moderator, set the stage with his first question to Barack Obama, asking “Why do you think that Hillary Clinton votes like a republican?”
Barack answered by explaining the need for change and his take on Hillary is that she is a person steeped in the experience of Washington politics.
Then John Edwards went after Hillary – directly accusing her of double talk.
It is about 8:09 PM and the tone is being set as ‘us against Hillary.’ One of the consequences is that Hillary is getting the most time on TV. She is granted the right to respond when someone else brings up her name. She is being very forceful and animated, “I am in favor of fiscal responsibility. I will not balance the budget on the backs of Social Security… ”
They move on to Iran and whether Congress has over site over Presidential action. Chris Dodd is accusing the current administration of beating irresponsible drums about war with Iran. “This is the most serious time in a generation…we need good leadership and good judgment…”
JOe Biden is weighing in with a good question, “Who has benefited from this War? Oil has risen to $90 a barrell… We have driven every moderate in Pakistan and other nations under ground… Our policy has verified the urban legend that the United States is trying to take over the world.”
To Obama – When should we attack Iran? the answer “We should not be talking about invading Iran…The President has been talking about WWIII… Promoting military action as the only alternative… We have not made serious attempts at diplomacy… As a consequence over the long term we have limited our ability to influence Iran…”
To Clinton – about Iran, “We are trying to put pressure on the Bush Administration. President can do anything he wants and that is why we must reign him in… We must have vigorous diplomacy… Everything should be on the table… We need both a carrot and a stick… Everybody on this stage agrees that President has made a total mess of Iraq… I want to start diplomacy – we should not rush into war.”
Senator Edwards on Clinton, “She voted yes on a resolution that looks like it has been written by the Neo-Cons… Again the Administration is using the term ‘weapons of mass destruction’…we have to stand up to this President… They have been rattling the saber over and over…”
Gov. Richardson “In my judgment we have to use diplomacy but the red line is that we cannot have Iran having nuclear weapons… I believe we can find a compromise with diplomatic incentive… ”
Kucinich – “We have to reject any notion of war with Iran… We we say all options are on the table you are licensing George Bush – policies of preemption are illegal. Even planning for a war on Iran is illegal… Our democracy is in peril and we need to challenge the President on balance of powers.”
Obama – “There is a larger point at stake, we have been governed by fear. We must stop this. We cannot continue to operate as if we are the weakest nation in the world… The politics of fear has undermined our basic civil liberties.”
Chris Dodd, “The larger issue is who has the experience necessary to marshal the kind of resources necessary to manage these issues. Experience matters. Results matter… Pakistan presents a bigger issue because they already have nuclear weapons.”
I like these folks – they are all on the mark tonight. Barack Obama strikes me as the most prepared to step back and look back at a larger picture. I really liked his observation that we have been governed by fear.