9:09 – Bill Richardson is speaking, and appears to be wearing heels. On second thought, they may be cowboy boots. Richardson is having trouble getting any verbal momentum going. He is jumping from “restoring the American Dream,” to following the Constitution on the matter of torture (does the Constitution mention torture?), to his plan on the war in Iraq. His whole campaign may come down to that war — he is the only candidate who will commit to having all troops out by the end of 2009.
9:15 – Now health care, now education reform, now greenhouse gases. This is what Richardson does. He jumps from policy to policy to policy without an over-arching narrative.
9:19 – “I’ve heard one thing that I like about Iowa,” says Bill. “Iowa likes underdogs!” You better hope so.
9:20 – Richardson urges Democrats not to “tear each other down.” Suggests criticism only on policy grounds. Problem is, the Dems are all pretty much the same on policy. Oh, and I’ve seen some advance copy from the Obama speech, and it’s got some sharp but coded words about Hillary.
Biden after the jump.
9:27 – This is “a moment in American history,” says Joe Biden, in which we are “either going to get this world back on track” or let it descend into chaos. There’s not hyperbole; that’s the nature of Biden’s rhetoric. He needs to paint the world as a scary place because, in his words, scary times demand a president with a “depth and breadth of knowledge in international affairs and national security” that is completely unsurpassed. Such a person would be Biden, of course. The threats to America demand Biden! According to Biden!
9:34 – Biden mentions the Republican “Values” conference from a few weeks back. I was there! Biden points out that if Republicans lived their values, the budgets they propose would look very different. More kids could afford college. More people would have health care.
9:36 – Biden is play-acting what he would have said to the country after 9/11 if he was president. One gets the sense he’s talked this through in his head many times. For the record, he would have (1) proposed a meeting of the world’s leaders in which they collectively plotted the demise of radical Islam, and (2) proposed an energy bill that ended our dependence of foreign oil.
9:38 – Edwards was good tonight, but nobody has done anything that will change this race. USC 17, Cal 10.
9:40 – Oh, Biden opened with a pretty good line I didn’t mention. “I should start with an apology to Rudy Giuliani,” he said. “I said his campaign was a noun, a verb and 9/11…I was wrong. He called me to tell me that after Pat Robertson’s endorsement, there’s an ‘Amen’ in there.”
9:41 – Found a neat photo.
9:51 – Cal ties the game on a Nate Longshore touchdown pass! 17-17. Nice.
9:54 – An Iowa congressman just took the stage to auction off a stuffed donkey. A totally nondescript stuffed donkey. Nothing special about it. Guess how much it went for. Ready? $1,900. I think Paul Pelosi, the Speaker’s husband, bought it.
9:57 – The same guy just auctioned off Nancy Pelosi’s scarf. $6,000. Not. Kidding.
10:08 – It’s Dodd time! He calls tonight “candidates on a stick.”
10:11 – Dodd says that he will restore the Constitution on the very first hour of his presidency. No more Abu Ghraib, no more Guantanamo, no more rendering, no more waterboarding, no more suspending habeas corpus. Civil liberties are Dodd’s big thing. He makes a good point—embracing civil liberties to the fullest would restore America’s moral authority in the world.
10:14 – Dodd’s father was a prosecutor in the Nuremberg Trials. Dodd speaks at length about the fact that America submitted men who had committed the murders of million of people to the rule of law, when they did not in fact have to. Compare that to Abu Ghraib, Dodd says, and see how far we have fallen.
For the last two speakers, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, we’ll go a new post.
Oh, and PS – Cal loses 24-17. Forth loss of the season for the once-promising Golden Bears. Senator Tom Harkin has been speaking for a while, mostly about his legislative accomplishments (did you know he is responsible for closed captioning on American TV shows? Now you know), so I went to get a Diet Coke*.
* This post has been corrected to capitalize Diet Coke.