Bill Whalen: Politi-Cal

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About the CA Senate Debate . . .

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Some observations from Wednesday night’s senatorial debate between Democratic incumbent Barbara Boxer and Republican challenger Carly Fiorina . . .

1) Like a bad-blood hockey game, the gloves came off the second the puck was dropped. Fiorina went after Boxer as a 28-year Washington do-nothing. Boxer lambasted Fiorina as an exporter of American jobs overseas. Nothing different from what they’ve already said on the campaign trail. Get used to it for the next 60 days.

2) Interesting question about making federal laws more equitable toward same-sex couples, but why no mention of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”? Would’ve loved to have heard Boxer thoughts on President Obama’s delicate maneuvering on this topic. Or, to’ve heard Fiorina explain why it can’t work in the U.S when it already works for the Israelis.

3) Halfway through and — guess what? — Barbara’s still a 28-year failure and Carly’s still a job-killer . . .

4) Minute 33: abortion finally comes into play. As assumed, Fiorina talks about her late mother-in-law choosing not to abort the candidate’s future husband. Fiorina gets a break here: the question is asked in the context of stem-cell research, which is very familiar ground for candidates by now. Then KTVU’s Randy Shandobil does her no favor by bringing up Roe v. Wade. Boxer’s response: smart in that she shows respect for her opponent’s position. Interestingly, Boxer seems more interested in defending her legislative record than talking about choice.

5) Cheap prop alert: Boxer alludes to an audience member who got a federal job in S.F.

6) Good Fiorina dodge on global warming, trying to turn the issue into Boxer’s spotty record on national security. First awkward moment of the night: Fiorina won’t take a stance on Proposition 23; Boxer pounces.

7) Fiorina’s turn to pounce: she nails Boxer on the Central Valley’s water crisis. Personal note: I drove north from Los Angeles up the I-5 two weeks ago. You wouldn’t believe the number of “Fire Pelosi/Boxer” signs regarding the new Dust Bowl. People are genuinely angry in rural California; I wonder if Boxer knows that?

8) 50-minute mark: Randy Shandobil presses Fiorina on the assault weapons ban. Funny how, in California at least, it’s the challenger who seems to have to defend her record, not the incumbent (although Carla Marinucci (sporting a new hair-do, which neither candidate notived) did bring up the ma’am incident). This is why Republicans gripe about media bias . . .

9) Where is it written that candidates can’t ask each other questions?

10) Two-minute closing statements and that’s all folks. Time flies when . . . oh, never mind.

Three questions I’d have asked:

1) With the Tea Party wreaking havoc in Senate elections and states and varied as Massachusetts, Utah and Alaska, would the two candidates offer their views on what the Tea Party movement is all about?

2) Name an instance, as a U.S. Senator, when you’d break with your caucus, cross the aisle and vote with the other party?

3) Are you willing to make a commitment here and now to at least one more debate? 

Final thoughts:

1) Hard to see this debate moving the dial. Both candidates stayed in form, followed familiar themes.

2) If this turns out to be only debate (neither side’s committed to a future get-together), then shame on the candidates — and the media, if they don’t pester the candidates into submission. Californians deserve, in my opinion, a minimum of three debates — one focusing on domestic issues, a second strictly on foreign policy (we didn’t even get into Israel, Iran, Pakistan, and North Korea tonight), and a third being a “grab bag” (perhaps a town hall with citizens doing the asking).

Written by Bill Whalen

September 2, 2010 at 3:21 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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