6:04 PM This is an unusual format, kind of like a talk show. Barack Obama comes in first as if Bob Barker told him he was the next contestant on the Price is Right and he’s making a good point that individual denominations (i.e., churches) should decide whether or not to recognize same-sex unions. Promises to make those rights available as President.
6:08 PM HRC’s Joe Solomonese asks about Senator Obama’s support of civil marriage and follows up by saying how civil unions sounds like separate but equal.
Again, noting the unusual format with the three panelists on stage on a sofa and only one candidate on stage.
6:09 Obama looks and sounds impressive and is being very diplomatic in answering, saying he favors civil unions without calling them marriage.
Please note I’m giving all times as Pacific Standard Time.
6:12 At least Melissa Etheridge acknowledges that she’s just a lucky rock star and now is pandering to Illinois’ Junior Senator. She does ask a good question though–what will the Senator do to bring this country together.
So, they’re only going to have one candidate at a time.
6:14 Barack sounds nice, but he doesn’t seem to be saying anything of substance. I do have to say that he is gifted with a nice voice and a way with words. A hope-monger?
6:15 Melissa, where in those documents, does it say “equality for everyone”? Um, Melissa, the Declaration of Independence says we’re created equal. But, the rights with which we’re endowed are “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
6:16 How long is this thing going to take? So far we’ve only had one candidate. Speaking well and saying nothing, but so far the only Bush-bashing (and that not directly) has come from the panelists, not the the candidate. Jonathan Capeheart asks the Senator about speaking up against anti-gay attitudes in the black community.
6:18 Baiting question–calling his stand on gay marriage “decidedly old school.”
6:20 Carlson asks if the Senator would put the gay rights movement on par with the black civil rights movement and he doesn’t really answer, but doesn’t that issues are different than they were for African-Americans under Jim Crow. And he’s right.
6:21 A lot of platitudes, but not much substance. Says he mentioned gay and lesbian issues in his announcement and how he talks about gay issues to black churches where people don’t want to hear these issues. And calls this political courage. Gets a lot of applause. And some whistles.
6:23 Edwards enters and works the crowd. Who was that cute guy? Is he single? No, not Edwards.
6:25 Good question on health benefits. And Edwards goes off on the amazing work they’re doing at the Gay and Lesbian Center here. Says he was the first candidate to come up with a health care plan. Did he answer the question about health benefits for domestic partners? He rambles on about the problem of gay and lesbian homelessness for which he earns much applause. Important point, but he hasn’t answered the question.
6:26 Her total softball question if he feels comfortable now around gay people. Edwards claims that Shrum did not make the point he claims he did about being uncomfortable around gays.
6:28 A lot of sound-bytes, but he does garner some applause when he says that gays and lesbians should have the same rights of adoption.
Ergh, the problems of live-blogging, you’re busy tapping away and may miss some of what you’re trying to cover.
6:31 On right-wing “scare” tactics, Capeheart asks what the Democrats will do. Edwards gets applause for expressing pride in his wife for taking on Ann Coulter.
6:32 Now we’ve got him taking on the Republicans for dividing us. Says it’s important for a leader to denounce this rhetoric. Calls what Ann Coulter does as being “the worst kind of public discourse” as being “intended to go to the lowest common denominator.” Says if we stand quietly by, hatred gets a foothold. Says we must speak up, to do what’s right. Sounds really impressive, but what exactly does he mean?
6:34 Solmonese asks how he would respond to someone who is transgendered and Edwards says he would support them and uses that as a reason for powerful non-discrimiatnion laws. And then offers some platitudes. But, at least his hair looks good.
6:36 This guy’s answer on gay marriage and his faith shows how slick he is. What?!?!? Claims the president has tried to impose his faith on the people. Where has Bush done that?? Says equality is part of his “heart, soul and core” and issues that he’ll fight for.
6:37 Some specifics. We need to get rid of Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell and DOMA. Quick question? How did he vote on Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell? He was in the Senate when President Clinton put forward that pernicious policy.*
6:38 Question on Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell notes that it can’t be repealed by Executive Order. That’s because of the law a Democratic Congress passed and a Democratic President signed. And Edwards claims falsely that a president cant get rid of it via Executive Order.
6:42 He’s right to bring up issue of Immigration Laws, but he seems to believe that if we had Hate Crimes Laws, we’d end all violence against gay people. And then a lot of pablum thanking the audience for their advocacy or whatever.
6:44 Kucinich and Mainstream America? What??!??!?!?
6:50 Had to step away from a second. Seems that Kucinich supports HRC’s agenda hook, line and sinker. Did he say about respecting someone’s “inner equality.” What’s that mean? And now he blathers on about the power of love.
Margaret Carlson says he’s “evolved for a Member of Congress.” “Totally evolved.” Sounds like a lot of new age talk, both from her and Kucinich. Yeah, I’ve taken a journey too. And Melissa Etheridge says she’s trying not to fawn over him, but wants Kucinich to keep running until he’s elected President. Doesn’t sound like a very non-partisan panel. Is that a debate or a love-in? Or maybe they’re trying to take us back to the 1960s. Let the sun shine in!
6:53 Says he supports a health care plan without really offering any specifics, granted the format doesn’t allow. Claims he’s the “candidate in the center” of the American people’s “hopes and dreams.” Brings up his war vote.
Okay, okay, I’m going to slow this down a bit. . . ‘Cause we’re seeing a lot of platitudes, but little substance. Hey, Dennis, how is your candidacy “transforming the race,” as you claim?
7:00 Kucinich offeres platitudes on health care–a lot of nice-sending rhetoric about not wanting people to be denied treatment. He’s right that people shouldn’t be denied treatment, but doesn’t offer much in the way of specifics.
And then we have Solmonese pandering, praising Kucinich as a leader. Not sure where Kucinich is going. Something about 1 + 1 = 0? We need a president who is able to “testify” to the power of love and to be an examplar. Is this the church of Kucinich? The president who connects us with the “deeper truths” of who we are and receives very warm, enthusiastic applause. Margaret Carlson feels the “love” and notes how the Republicans did not decline.
7:05 So they say, Gravel, Richardson and Hillary are next. Does that mean that Dodd and Biden aren’t coming?
7:07 Asking Mike Gravel if there are gays in Alaska. Hey, I dated a gay Alaskan three years ago. So, yes, there are gays in Alaska, but this young man did leave that great state.
7:10 Didn’t someone say that Gravel was interesting. He’s kind of boring, actually. And now says that marriage is a “commitment of two human beings in love.” Says that if there’s anything we need in the world, it’s more love. Carlson is right to say there’s no daylight between him and Kucinich on “love.” I agree with that sentiment. But, what does that mean politically? Are they going to create a Department of Love to sit next to Kucinich’s Department of Peace? Gosh, these guys do sound like they want to return to the 1960s. And they talk about Republicans wanting to turn back the clock.
7:12 Great question from Capeheart. Did we go for marriage too soon. Gravel panders by calling Barney Frank the smartest man in Congress. Gravel says leadership is bringing us to civil maturity–after offering a lot of empty rhetoric on marriage.
7:18 Ok, I zoned out a bit. Must have been Gravel. And I did see Joe Solmonese saying he was 34. I just realized this is the first time I’ve seen the HRC Chief on TV. I’ve only seen his face before, but have never previously heard his voice.
7:20 Wait, is Gravel saying he’s against the drug war? Hmmm. . . . libertarian on this issue. Well, he did take a specific stand. The crowd goes wild. So far we have had some specifics. He didn’t bow and scrape though as much as Kucinich did.
7:23 And now it’s Governor Richardson. Capehart notes that Richardson says he would focus less on marriage than what’s achievable and asks what he’ll do to make the achievable. Says civil unions is achievable. Promises he would get rid of Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell and notes that he didn’t vote for. We can check this. 🙂 Also says he would repeal “horrendous initiative” that he initially supported. Well, we do get some specifics. And says we need to bring country to position where there is public support.
7:25 Defends his DOMA vote as means to fight proposed Constitutional Amendment. Now, he’s going from specifics to platitudes on how he get things done and move things forward. Capehart mentions that he uses derogatory term maricon on Don Imus show. I think he handles it well, says he misspoke and apologizes. And then goes on to show what he has done as Governor. Now, he’s again becoming the guy I liked to watch on Fox where he deals with specifics. Notes his accomplishments. Not as charismatic as Obama, Edwards or Kucinich, but is much better at actually addressing issues. “Actions speak louder than words.”
Mentions special session of New Mexico legislature he called on domestic partnerships. And notes that his state doesn’t have DOMA-type legislature. We’re also seeing the fawning of the panel where Carlson says he gets one pass for a remark on the Imus show.
7:30 Kind of punts on the marriage issue. And drives home point that he is doing what is achievable. So far I find him the most impressive, the least given to platitudes and the most to actual policies. And he looks good on TV. Don’t know why he’s not doing better in the polls. He would be a formidable opponent for the GOP. Comes across as well-informed and ready to lead.
7:32 Wait, now’s he fumbling. Not answering question about whether or not homosexuality is a choice. Melissa Etheridge’s question. Now we’ve got Etheridge quoting the Declaration as saying we’re entitled to certain rights that we’re not given. Has she even read the document? Does she know what those rights are? That august document doesn’t say that equality is one of those rights.
7:38 Richardson, definitely the most impressive of the 5 so far, notes that we should judge a candidate by his record, not just his rhetoric. And now Hillary is getting a standing ovation. Once again, noting how she doesn’t seem comfortable doing the hand-shake thing. Seems to shake someone’s hand as one inspects fish in the market.
7:44 Lost my stuff on Hillary when site was down for a moment. Talked about how Hillary seemed to be very careful in measuring her words, thinking about each word. Not as fluid in her movements as the other candidates.
Issue is how we get to full equality. Says she’s in favor of civil unions with full equality. And says she’s in favor of letting states maintain their jurisdiction over marriage. Glad to see that she uses the term “referenda” (plural of referendum).
Again now how carefully she speaks, measuring her words. Says she wants to repeal DOMA.
Claims movement to get these referenda on state ballots was “led by Karl Rove” and “blessed by George Bush.” Does she have evidence to buttress her claim that Rove spearheaded these initiatives? Do any of you?
7:48 Calls these referenda a “cynical ploy.”
7:50 On how the promises were broken in the Clinton era and “we were thrown under the bus.” Notes hopeful time at beginning of Clinton era. Asks if we’re going to be left behind as we were before. Hey, I’ve been saying something similar. How when push came to shove, Clinton gave in. And Etheridge, who praised Kucinich, is no conservative. And Hillary is very careful in choosing her words. She knows that whatever she says could be used against her. Smart politician. Not taking risks. When she’s not answering the question, she’s careful to attack Republicans.
7:52 Wow, I’m impressed that the panel is actually asking tough questions of Mrs. Clinton. How she didn’t come out right away to denounce General Pace’s comments on morality of homosexuality.
7:55 She’s not my girl.
7:57 Now, in her concluding remarks, she’s offering platitudes, but not with the passion of those who spoke before her. Doesn’t sound like she believes what she’s saying.
Ok, they’re done. Not much of substance. I think Richardson came off the best, but think Kucinich and Edwards had the most polished performances. Some guy named Jason Bulimi (?) is leading a post-debate conversation, but I have a radio show to do. Yet, this guy from the Victory Fund thinks Richardson didn’t do well on the “choice” issue.
* A reader wrote it to note that Edwards was elected to the Senate in 1998, so he was not serving when Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell and DOMA passed and could not thus have voted for these policies (or against them).