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Democrats' First Presidential Debate Shows Party Fissures
NYTimes ^ | 5/4/03 | ADAM NAGOURNEY

Posted on 05/04/2003 6:13:17 AM PDT by RJCogburn

Nine Democratic presidential candidates battled tonight over the war in Iraq and over how to provide health care insurance for all Americans, in a debate that highlighted deep fissures in the party that several candidates warned could endanger its chances of winning back the White House.

It was the first time these candidates have met in debate, and it almost instantly turned into a squabble that revealed strong — and in one case apparently personal — differences in this crowded field, on national security and domestic policy.

Howard Dean, the former governor of Vermont, and Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts squabbled so intensely over their differences on the war in Iraq and on each other's credentials that the Rev. Al Sharpton of New York finally stepped in and urged an end to disputes that he said could hurt the Democrats in their attempt to win the White House.

"Republicans are watching," Mr. Sharpton said, adding that "we should not have the bottom line tonight be that George Bush won because we were taking cheap shots at one another."

Senator Bob Graham of Florida said: "We're not fighting each other. We're trying to select one of us to be the opponent of George Bush."

Even amid the squabbling, the debate revealed broad differences among the Democrats on what has emerged as one of the critical issues of the race: how to provide health care insurance for all Americans.

A proposal by Representative Richard A. Gephardt of Missouri to abolish President Bush's tax cuts and use the money to provide subsidies to business to cover health care insurance was repeatedly attacked by his opponents, in a sign of concern that Mr. Gephardt might have taken the lead on what could be a central issue in the primary.

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." Senator Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut called Mr. Gephardt's proposal a "big-spending Democratic idea of the past," suggesting that it could allow Republicans once again to portray Democrats as a party of big government.

Mr. Gephardt, who appeared to enjoy the attention, even if it came in the form of criticism, defended his health care plan and criticized his opponents for supporting an end to only some of Mr. Bush's taxes.

"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,' " Mr. Gephardt said. "If you like George Bush's tax cuts, stick with him, vote for him. But if you want to finally solve this problem that's bedeviled our people for a hundred years, let's get it done."

The exchanges came in a 90-minute debate sponsored by ABC News that seemed unlikely to draw much attention across the nation. The debate began at 9 p.m. on a Saturday and, with the exception of one television station in Washington, was not broadcast live anywhere in the country. C-Span is planning to show it four times on Sunday.

The debate was moderated by George Stephanopoulos, who tried, with more than a little success, to impose order on a stage filled with Democratic candidates competing for a moment of time on television. The other candidates were Carol Moseley Braun, the former senator from Illinois, and Representative Dennis J. Kucinich of Ohio.

In the process, there were some moments of agreement among the candidates, particularly as Mr. Stephanopoulos pushed them to take positions on issues that might not play well in South Carolina, where this first debate was being held.

None said they supported a law in South Carolina that made sodomy illegal. And only Mr. Sharpton said that he supported a federal law that would license and regulate handguns. Mr. Lieberman went out of his way to say that he had not agreed with Al Gore when Mr. Gore endorsed such a proposal when he ran for president in 2000, with Mr. Lieberman as his running-mate.

The tensions between Dr. Dean and Mr. Kerry were particularly evident; Mr. Stephanopoulos goaded them a bit, but it did not take much. Dr. Dean scowled openly as Mr. Kerry spoke.

Mr. Stephanopoulos noted that Dr. Dean had been quoted as questioning Mr. Kerry's courage in an interview last week, after one of Mr. Kerry's campaign aides assailed Dr. Dean's fitness for office and mentioned that he had never served in the military.

"Everyone respects Senator Kerry's extraordinary, heroic Vietnam record, and I do as well," Dr. Dean said. "However, what I would have preferred — this is 30 years later — I would have preferred, if Senator Kerry had some concerns about my fitness to serve, that he speak to me directly about that rather than through his spokesman."

A moment later, Mr. Kerry took issue with Dr. Dean, invoking his own record of combat in Vietnam. "I really think that anybody who has measured the tests that I think I have performed over the last years on any number of fights in the United States Congress, as well as my service in Vietnam, that I don't need any lectures in courage from Howard Dean," he said.

Mr. Lieberman criticized both Dr. Dean for opposing the war and Mr. Kerry for offering what he described as ambivalent support for it, saying that that could undercut the party next year.

"No Democrat will be elected president in 2004 who is not strong on defense, and this war was a test of that," he said. Mr. Lieberman said the position of those two candidates "will not give the people confidence about our party's willingness to make the tough decisions to protect their security."

Dr. Dean disputed Mr. Lieberman's suggestion that his position would allow him to be portrayed as weak. And Mr. Kerry defended himself as a consistent advocate of removing Mr. Hussein.

It fell to Mr. Edwards to play the peacemaker. "Whatever personal differences exist, Governor Dean or Senator Kerry — either one would be a better president than the one we have," he said.

TOPICS: Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: britain; electionpresident

1 posted on 05/04/2003 6:13:18 AM PDT by RJCogburn
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To: RJCogburn
the only people who saw this is the 9 guys there
2 posted on 05/04/2003 6:14:04 AM PDT by The Wizard (Saddamocrats are enemies of America, treasonous everytime they speak)
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To: The Wizard
Does anyone wonder if these were Republicans whether or not the networks would carry out this debate a whopping 18 months before the election. The answer is "Of course not".
3 posted on 05/04/2003 6:31:07 AM PDT by KC_Conspirator
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To: RJCogburn
Headline should read: Candidates for Democratic nomination squabble over who will re-distribute more of your hard earned money to drug-pushers and prostitutes.
4 posted on 05/04/2003 6:32:10 AM PDT by Thane_Banquo
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To: RJCogburn
"A proposal by Representative Richard A. Gephardt of Missouri to abolish President Bush's tax cuts and use the money to provide subsidies to business to cover health care insurance..."

And the difference between this proposal and a tax cut for wealthy corporations is what? Who presented it?

5 posted on 05/04/2003 6:34:03 AM PDT by Bernard
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To: RJCogburn
=== Cut === Paste === Email to Friends and Family ===

In the upcoming democratic primary (2004) ...

BIG AL NEEDS OUR HELP! - Register as a democrat and vote for Crazy Al!

Rev. Al Sharpton is officially running for president in 2004.

During the May 3, 2003 demoncrap debate in Columbia, S.C., our man Al stated “The way to move a donkey is to slap the donkey,” and “I’m going to slap the donkey until the donkey kicks”.

Let’s help Crazy Al slap the donkey until it kicks.

Assume GW has the Republican nomination sewn up. Its time for all good republicans, libertarians, and independents to stand up and be counted. Lets take a page from Sen. McCain’s play book. Prior to the 2004 democratic presidential primary in your state, re-register as a democrat and vote for Al Sharpton!

Wouldn’t it be great if Crazy Al won! At the very least, lets ensure he gets prime time speaking rights at the 2004 nationally televised democratic convention. You gotta love it. Line up, sign up, and send this to all your like-minded friends.

In case you’d like to send Big Al a donation:

Anyone need a bumper sticker or button?

Anyone know where I can get a yard sign?

=== Cut === Paste === Email to Friends and Family ===
6 posted on 05/04/2003 7:20:29 AM PDT by schaketo (Vote for Crazy Al Sharpton in the Demoncrap Primaries)
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To: *Election President
7 posted on 05/04/2003 8:20:52 AM PDT by Libertarianize the GOP (Ideas have consequences)
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To: RJCogburn
I believe a "fissure" is an uncomfortable affliction of the nether, or clymer regions of the body. So the headline is great: Debate shows party fissures, namely the candidates.
8 posted on 05/04/2003 9:05:16 AM PDT by thucydides
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To: RJCogburn


hyperlinked images of shame
copyright Mia T 2003.

by Mia T, 4.6.03


If Act I was a thinly veiled allegory about naked clintonism, then Act II is a parable about the plan for world domination by the Establishment, aged hippies in pinstripes all, with their infantile, solipsistic world view amazingly untouched by time.




Al From is sounding the alarm. "Unless we convince Americans that Democrats are strong on national security," he warns his party, "Democrats will continue to lose elections."

Helloooo? That the Democrats have to be spoon-fed what should be axiomatic post-9/11 is, in and of itself, incontrovertible proof that From's advice is insufficient to solve their problem.

From's failure to fully lay out the nature of the Democrats' problem is not surprising: he is the guy who helped seal his party's fate. It was his Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) that institutionalized the proximate cause of the problem, clintonism, and legitimized its two eponymic provincial operators on the national stage. The "Third Way" and "triangulation" don't come from the same Latin root for no reason.

That "convince" is From's operative word underscores the Democrats' dilemma. Nine-eleven was transformative. It is no longer sufficient merely to convince. One must demonstrate, demonstrate convincingly, if you will… which means both in real time and historically.

When it comes to national security, Americans will no longer take any chances. Turning the turn of phrase back on itself, the era of the Placebo President is over. (Incidentally, the oft-quote out-of-context sentence fragment alluded to here transformed meaningless clinton triangulation into a meaningful if deceptive soundbite.)

Although From is loath to admit it -- the terror in his eyes belies his facile solution -- the Democratic party's problem transcends its anti-war contingent.

With a philosophy that relinquishes our national sovereignty -- and relinquishes it reflexively… and to the UN no less -- the Democratic party is, by definition, the party of national insecurity.

With policy ruled by pathologic self-interest -- witness the "Lieberman Paradigm," Kerry's "regime change" bon mot (gone bad), Edwards' and the clintons' brazen echoes thereof (or, alternatively, Pelosi's less strident wartime non-putdown putdown)… and, of course, the clincher -- eight years of the clintons' infantilism, grotesquerie and utter failure -- the Democratic party is, historically and in real time, the party of national insecurity.

The Democrats used to be able to wallpaper their national insecurity with dollars and demogoguery. But that was before 9/11.

The REAL "Living History" -- clintoplasmodial slime

Q ERTY8missus clinton's REAL virtual office update bump!

9 posted on 05/05/2003 3:37:31 AM PDT by Mia T (SCUM (Stop Clintons' Undermining Machinations))
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To: Mia T
bumping your excellent work.
10 posted on 05/05/2003 4:21:32 AM PDT by RJCogburn (Yes, I will call it bold talk for a......)
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To: Mia T
All President Bush has to ask the American People is "Who do you trust the Security of America with, Me and your ELECTED officials, or the un-elected, impotent UN?"

Anyone who answers the UN needs to be asked "WHY"

In my opinion debate is then over. Any potential candidate shows his true agenda, cease power of the US to the UN.

11 posted on 05/05/2003 4:31:54 AM PDT by codercpc
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To: RJCogburn
Howard Dean is a medical doctor, so it isn't incorrect to refer to him as Dr. Dean, but it sounds strange. George McGovern has a Ph.D. but he isn't normally referred to as Dr. McGovern. The New York Times seems to use the title only of people they like, like Howard Dean and Radovan Karadzic. (During the war in Bosnia they were constantly referring to Karadzic as Dr. Karadzic...they didn't do the same to Tudjman, who had a Ph.D.)
12 posted on 05/05/2003 6:52:52 AM PDT by Verginius Rufus
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