With John Edwards dropping out of the presidential race Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are the only candidates left in the process to see who wins the Democratic Party nomination. Did this make much of a difference in the final Democratic debate before the February 5 Primary? The Grand Rapids Press headline on February 1st read, “Obama, Clinton mix civility and a few barbs in last debate before Super Tuesday contests.” The Associated Press story did not mention a single issue raised during the debate. Instead, the reporter chose to focus on how nice the two candidates were to each other and whether or not they would make a good president/vice president team.
Factcheck.org also noted that the debate seemed more like “an agree-athon than a debate.” However, the analysts at Political Fact Check did mention that there were issues raised during the debate and several instances where candidates made inaccurate claims. The claims they investigate are voter turnout, corporate tax loopholes and driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants.
Consumer advocate and possible presidential candidate Ralph Nader also weighed in on the Clinton/Obama debate. In his article titled “No Debate,” Nader states, “As in all debates involving presidential candidates, the reporters were unwilling or incapable of asking the unconventional questions reflecting situations and conditions widely reported or investigated by their own colleagues.” Besides commenting on what was not asked at the debate, Nader decides to ask several colleagues he respects what questions they would have asked the two Democratic candidates. Chris Hedges, author and former New York Times Middle East bureau chief says he would have asked:
“The Israeli government is imposing severe and continual collective punishment on the 1.5 million people of tiny Gaza, which includes restricting or cutting off food, fuel, electricity, medicines and other necessities. Malnutrition rates among many children resemble the worst of sub-Saharan Africa. Israel’s leading newspaper, Ha’aretz, has reporters and columnists describing these horrific conditions and concluding that the ferocity of the blockade is detrimental to Israel as well as the Palestinians.
Collective punishment is clearly a violation of established international law. Prominent, former military, security and political leaders in Israel are speaking out against this punishment and calling for negotiations with Hamas. Do you, Senator Clinton and Senator Obama, agree with these Israelis or do you continue to support the policy of collective punishment against innocent men, women and children in Gaza?”
Nader himself provides several questions he would have asked, questions that range from the issue of impeachment of Bush, challenging the health care industry, corporate fraud and corporate welfare.
Lastly, Minnesota-based journalist Lydia Howell raises important points about the CNN-moderated debate between Obama and Clinton. Responding to the blame both candidates assign to Bush for state of the US economy, Howell writes:
“While blaming the Bush Administration for the declining economy, greedy corporate globalization wasn’t questioned even as it has wrecked much of Mexico’s economy and communities across the U.S. Factories closing, three million jobs have disappeared in the last decade — which obviously includes the Clinton Administration era. So-called “free trade” agreements, such as NAFTA — passed while Hillary Clinton got some of her experience as First Lady, and pending trade deals with South Korea and Peru — weren’t worthy of discussion.”
With Edwards out of the race, several commentators have expressed concern that neither Clinton or Obama will seriously address the issue of poverty. Howell states:
“Both candidates started the night lauding John Edwards, but neither took up his banner of fighting poverty. Housing foreclosures got a nod; the housing crisis for the working poor and rising homelessness were ignored. Katrina became just a tool of Bush-bashing, but, neither pledged to really DO anything. Neither Obama or Clinton issued the strong challenges to corporate power at the heart of Edwards’ campaign. Perhaps, Obama got the warning loud and clear from Edwards’ fate. Clinton’s 15 years as a corporate lawyer makes where she stand clear — no matter how many times she cites her connection to the Children’s Defense Fund.”