PERSONALLY ATTACKED?

A telling and all too common moment from this week’s debate:

EDWARDS:…And the most important issue is she says she will bring change to Washington, while she continues to defend a system that does not work, that is broken, that is rigged and is corrupt; corrupted against the interest of most Americans and corrupted…(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: All right…

EDWARDS: … and corrupted for a very small, very powerful, very well-financed group.

BLITZER: We’re going to…

EDWARDS: So we have fundamental differences.

BLITZER: We’re going to get to all of these issues, including energy and Iran and everything else.

CLINTON: Well, Wolf, I’ve just been personally attacked again, and I…

Can anybody explain to me what’s personal about that attack? Brings me back to a certain incumbent’s decision four years ago that every criticism of his record was “political hate speech.”

And does she disagree with the idea that the system in Washington is broken, or that she’s been defending it?

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Dean did an effective job making the case against the PATRIOT Act but framed in terms of stopping future assaults on civil liberties rather than calling to undo the recent ones. Why isn’t anyone calling Edwards on his role in drafting it?

Glad to see the way the rhetoric within the Democratic party has shifted over the past few years. Part of that, no doubt, is being out of power; part of that is the success of the “anti-globalization” movement in putting the issue, so to speak, on the map. For Dean to say that we’ve given global rights to corporations but not to workers is right on; to describe that as having done half the job but forgotten the other half smacks of a disingenuous attempt to reconcile his stance with his record.

Kucinich laid out the case for single-payer health insurance clearly and sharply (and effectively dismissed the idea that the Clintons had pursued such a plan), and Sharpton made the compelling moral argument for such a system. What’s most interesting to me about the other candidates’ alternatives is that none of them mounted an argument (true, they’re generally not very good ones) against such a system any stronger than Clark’s “Let’s fix the one we have.”