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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

My Wednesday wanderings

The debate
I watched the debate last night with my hubby and intermittently all three of my boys. (The Cavs were playing and, well, they're boys with limited attention spans for wonkish arguments.) Here are my observations:

1) Brown is a good color on Hillary even if it's not a patriotic look. But there were times when she sounded like a shrieking wife and I cringed, on behalf of women everywhere, for her inability to tone it down and sound like the highly intelligent being she is. I don't think that does much to help her with voters.

2) Barack looks tired. Although his debate performances have much less fire and energy than his speeches and campaign appearances, I felt as if his demeanor—one of being unflappable—is characteristic of his presidential qualities. Basically, I like.

3) Both candidates bombed on the question about Putin's successor. I don't think that's any indication of their lack of foreign policy experience, but rather a byproduct of prolonged residence in the campaign bubble, allowing for little time to keep up with the latest global developments. I just read about Medvedev yesterday.

4) Tim Russert made a noble attempt to ask hard questions, but his insistence on definitive answers to hypotheticals made him look ridiculous. I'd rather have a president that considers the facts and surrounds him or herself with intelligent people than one who makes a promise in a campaign debate that neither the facts in the case nor the reality on the ground can support. Sheesh! Haven't we had enough of that with George W.?

5) I'd like to see both candidates talk about working together on universal health care. No matter who wins the nomination (and, hopefully, the general election), I would hope that the winner would bring in the other to consult on this very difficult issue.

6) Hillary spouts off places she's been as if that's evidence enough of foreign policy experience. Now I know she's done a lot more than just play tourist on taxpayer's dime. I wanted to hear more specifics. Conversely, I know that Obama is criticized for his lack of foreign policy experience, but I really like that he thinks completely differently. No less than that is required after years of failed policies. Does anyone remember the summer of 2001? There was an incredible culture of meanness—we were pulling out of every global treaty and going it alone, insulting governments far and wide. Suicide bombings in Israel and Gaza were a daily occurrence. And even in Ireland, a young school girl was harassed. We have to approach foreign policy in a completely different way in order to rebuild what has been destroyed.

7) On foreign policy and national security, I think Obama came off very strong and presidential.

8) On a 60 Minutes interview, Obama talked about how he is pretty even at all times and that helps to keep him sane on the campaign trail. "I don't get too high or too low." Sounds like a good quality in a leader to me.

9) Hillary has a great smile. Barack has a luminous smile. The guy lights up a room with that smile. John McCain, on the other hand, has that annoying tendency of laughing or smiling at inappropriate times and appearing altogether fake. After W, I just can't take any more of that ridiculous toothless smile and shrugging laugh.

10) No one believes for a second that Hillary and Barack are pals right now. But I think the graciousness that both exhibited at the end of the debate toward the other sets a tone for how reasonable adversaries can get along.

William F. Buckley dies at 82
The Times obit has some wonderful gems including this one:
"In 1985, David Remnick, writing in The Washington Post, said, 'He has the eyes of a child who has just displayed a horrid use for the microwave oven and the family cat.'"
Chester Finn on education reform
Education Week has an interesting piece from Chester Finn today. He's the president of the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation, in Washington, he has written his 15th book, Troublemaker: A Personal History of School Reform Since Sputnik, which will be published next month by Princeton University Press. He writes about the difficult of education reform because of its need to be systemic.
"Political compromises also lead elected officials to enact Potemkin reforms—that’s as true of standards-based as choice-style reforms—that amount to surface changes unaccompanied by the more wrenching shifts that are needed for those reforms to succeed."
Word of the day is cherish
"cherish: to hold dear : to entertain or harbor in the mind deeply and resolutely"

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