If you want to know what the Democratic presidential candidates and the Democratic Party believe, the debates, often derided as intellectually inconsequential, reveal a great deal. The problem is news media almost never report the most important statements the candidates make. Here then are some of those statements from the most recent debate, followed by a comment on their significance.
John Edwards on Americans going hungry: "Thirty-five million Americans last year went hungry. ... This [election] is about those 35 million people who are hungry every single year."
There is no truth to this charge against America. The only basis for it is a U.S. Department of Agriculture report saying that about 35 million Americans experienced "household food insecurity" in 2006. That term does not, the USDA emphasized, mean hunger, but being forced to reduce "variety in their diets" or eat a "few basic foods" at various times of the year. If a country could sue for libel, America would have cause to sue Mr. Edwards.
Barack Obama on giving driver's licenses to illegal immigrants: "When I was a state senator in Illinois, I voted to require that illegal aliens get trained, get a license, get insurance to protect public safety. That was my intention."
Obama on not giving driver's licenses to illegal immigrants: "I am not proposing that that's what we do. What I'm saying is that we can't – [interrupted by laughter]. No, no, no, no, look, I have already said I support the notion that we have to deal with public safety and that driver's licenses at the state level can make that happen. But what I also know, Wolf [Blitzer], is that if we keep on getting distracted by this problem, then we are not solving it."
Dennis Kucinich on giving driver's licenses to illegal immigrants: "I take issue with your description of people being illegal immigrants. There aren't any illegal human beings, that's number one."
Who ever said anything about "illegal human beings"? "Illegal immigrant" describes one's immigration status, not one's humanity. Such a statement embarrasses public discourse.
Obama on raising the taxable salary on Americans paying Social Security taxes: "What we can do is adjust the cap on the payroll tax. ... Understand that only 6 percent of Americans make more than $97,000, so 6 percent is not the middle class – it's the upper class."
According to Sen. Obama, a family of four whose gross income in $97,000 is in the upper class. All Americans should understand who Democrats consider "rich" when they speak about increasing taxes on "the rich."
Clinton, Obama and Edwards on abortion as a matter of privacy ("Senator Clinton, would this be a sine qua non for you, that any nominee you name to the Supreme Court would have to share your view on abortion?"):
Clinton: "Well, they'd have to share my view about privacy, and I think that goes hand in hand [with abortion]. Privacy, in my opinion, is embedded in our Constitution."
Obama: "I would not appoint somebody who doesn't believe in the right to privacy."
Edwards: I would insist that they recognize the right to privacy and recognize Roe v. Wade as settled law."
It is worth noting that many pro-choice liberal scholars, such as Harvard Law School's Laurence Tribe, have spoken of Roe v. Wade's using the right to privacy to legalize abortion as poor law. There are rational arguments to be made on behalf of not criminalizing every woman who has an abortion, but arguing that killing a nascent human being is only a privacy matter is not one of them.
Obama on America teaching Muslims to love or to hate America: "We're not just going to lead militarily; we're going to lead by building schools in the Middle East that teach math and science instead of hatred of Americans."
Another Democrat who believes that anti-American hatred in the Islamic world is America's fault, and that it therefore can be undone by building schools there. And President Bush is alleged to be "disengaged from reality."
It is also important to note that as in every previous Democratic debate, not one candidate mentioned "jihadist" or "Islamic" or "Islamist" terror.
And one of them may well be the next president of the United States.
Powered by ScribeFire.