Live Blogging the Ohio Debate
Tuesday February 26th 2008, 8:11 pm
Filed under: Obama
Oh Cleveland, how I miss you. I’m enjoying some of Great Lakes Brewing Company’s finest and taking a little e-diary of the 1.5 hour debate. Let’s see how it goes, eh?
(All times are in CST)
8:03: Hillary comes out first to defend her rage-driven rant from the other day. She was just defending herself apparently.
8:05: And now the question is turned to ask about the picture of Obama in traditional garb. “As far as I know…” Hillary says, “it didn’t come from my campaign.” That should probably be written down as many times as possible.
8:08: Hillary is citing her experience in healthcare. I wish Obama would bring up the HillaryCare debacle from Clinton presidency.
8:15: Seriously, change the subject.
8:16: No, seriously. This isn’t a debate on your healthcare plans.
8:17: Oh, awesome. NAFTA. This should be fun. Can we go back to healthcare?
8:17: Wait, did Hillary really just cite Saturday Night Live? Man, I wish I had DVR. She also just said Laredo is the largest inland port. I love quirky random facts. You get 10 points, Hillary.
8:18: A “trade timeout”? International trade is not a 3 year old toddler. You lose 10 points, Hillary.
8:22: I love Tim Russert.
8:23: Wow, Hillary cared about NAFTA when she was trying to get votes in New York City, but now that she’s in the Rust Belt, she claims Tim Russert doesn’t have all the facts?
8:26: Almost a half hour, and we’ve only talked about healthcare and NAFTA? Tim! Brian! Do something!
8:28: Did anybody else see the intro to this debate when it was mentioned that Ohio is the birthplace of more presidents than any other state in the union? MSNBC better check their stats. Virginia leads by 1.
8:31: Oh, Hillary would follow through on her promises IF she had the resources of the White House. Apparently the resources of the Senate are not enough.
8:32: I wish there were people in the audience from each city that’s mentioned so people could cheer.
8:33: Yay! A new topic! What could it be? Iraq.
8:35: Reeb – I’d love to talk about what Obama is saying, but Hillary is droning on… and on… and on… I think I’m going to send her staff an e-mail with the definition of “concise.”
8:37: Yep, she’s still talking. Without a break. If she goes 3 more minutes, it will confirm she is a robot.
8:38: Obama makes a fun parable about driving a bus into a ditch. Some parables are better than others, apparently. Generally, driving a bus into a ditch isn’t top shelf material.
8:40: I think it’s now a debate on who thinks they can win a debate with John McCain.
8:42: Again, I love Tim Russert. Fastballs up under the chin. “If you pulled out of Iraq and it went to hell, would you re-invade?” I think it’s pretty clear neither candidate was prepared for that question.
8:44: Hillary made a good point earlier. Why is she getting all of the questions first?
8:46: Wow. The first commercial break. I wonder what the candidates do during commercial breaks. If it was me, I’d have a game of Wii tennis or something similar ready to go. That’s about the only way I could make it through something like this.
8:48: What’s with all the heartfelt commercials out there now? Do blood-sucking banks really believe we would fall… oh… he’s giving the old man his wallet that he found? You mean the bank behind this commercial would give me my wallet back if they found it? Sign me up!
8:50: Hillary snuck in after the telecast started. I wonder if it’s because the line in the women’s room was longer than the line in the men’s room?
8:52: I wonder what the candidates are writing down while the other is speaking. I hope it’s a sudoku puzzle. I bet they both could do a five star sudoku in about 20 minutes. In fact, maybe they should publish their sudoku abilities.
8:55: Hillary mentioned taking away subsidies from the student loan companies. 100 points for Hillary.
9:00: We’re at the one hour mark. I’m out of beer. I need to go to the bathroom. I wish it was time for another heartfelt bank commercial break.
9:02: Ooo… public campaign finance money comes up. This reminds me to commit $1 of my tax refund to campaign money.
9:04: Wow, Anna B. No need to call Hillary names. I mean, I’m not her biggest fan, but she is a respected elected official.
9:05: Hillary back-tracking on her loan to her own campaign, making her tax returns public, and her archived records as 1st lady just looks shady. “I’m kind of busy right now,” she says.
9:07: This entire situation with Louis Farrakhan is pretty interesting. I think it’s probably one of Obama’s most complicated issues as of late. A figurehead in the African American community putting his support behind Obama, which is obviously important, but that figurehead happens to have a history of very anti-semitic remarks. I think it’s making a lot of nothing.
9:11: There’s a difference between “rejecting” and “denouncing” according to Hillary. She knows, because, you know, she’s been there before.
9:13: Woah – there is an audience there! No time for that, though… commercial break! Bladder salvation!
9:15: While relieving myself, I started wondering what the staffers of each campaign are doing right now. If the West Wing taught us anything, they are huddled in a room making smart ass remarks and pumping their fist a lot. I kind of wish I were there… or playing Wii boxing.
9:17: Yes! The National Journal claim is brought to the stage! I loved reading how Obama was named the “most liberal senator.” Obama sounds very prepped – he points out that the votes that the rating was based on contained only two differences between his record and Hillary’s. Obama also points out that his position on Senate ethic investigations – that if a senator is being investigated for ethics violations, that senator is not allowed to sit on their own investigation committee – is a “liberal position.” How many conservatives are really going to stand against that? Score one for Obama’s prep team.
9:21: The debate is winding down and Putin gets brought up. I think this is more appropriate for the Presidential debate – not the primaries. I would hope there are no huge differences here between Hillary and Obama.
9:23: Oh, I see why it was brought up. What would the candidates do if Russia invades Kosovo? Now that’s a good question.
9:24: Ooo – Tim just asked if either candidate has a position or vote they would take back. Hillary gets it first and briefly mentions her vote to authorize military action against Iraq, but quickly turns it to what she will do, not what she has done.
9:26: Now it’s Obama’s turn. Terri Schiavo is brought up and the inaction of the legislature before a break that allowed all of that drama to unfold. That’s an interesting one that hasn’t really been mentioned by anyone. Hmmm…
9:28: Well, it’s wrap up and make nice time. It’s been an honor… and a… WAIT – Brian has a last minute question! Ha ha!
9:29: Now this is a turn of events. Why wouldn’t your candidate be the best nominee… SNAP!
9:30: Obama briefly mentions how capable Hillary is and turns to McCain. I supported McCain in 2000 and really thought he was the best leader for the country. I wonder if he changed, or was it me?
9:31: Now it’s Hillary’s turn to talk about Obama’s worthiness of the nomination. The first clapping in the audience comes after Hillary pointing out she would be the 1st female president.
9:33: Lorain, OH… represent! Man, this audience is boring.
9:34: So that’s it. Brian Williams closes it up. Look at those eyes… so pretty… so welcoming… so inviting… I think he won the debate.
9:35: It’s so weird to me when presidential candidates sign autographs.Â I mean, really?Â Autographs?Â They’re not playing the main stage at Lollapalooza.
9:36: I’d love to sit here and listen to the analysis and spin, but my friends and some cheap burgers are waiting for me.Â Hopefully this is the last primary debate so we can all look forward to a mudslinging presidential race!
My winner – neither.Â It was like watching a shoving match that doesn’t escalate beyond shoving.Â I hope nobody in Ohio, Texas, or any of the other remaining states wanted to use this debate to make up their mind.
What they don’t tell you about Sallie Mae
Money was tight for my family, especially while I was in college. It was a reality I completely understood. Loans were going to have to be a part of my college experience. At the time, it seemed simple enough – sign a few forms and a friendly company with a smiling representative with nice pens takes care of the costs and I would pay them back after I graduated and started hauling down the big bucks.
Then… it got complicated…
My junior year, our financial aid office decided to adjust the way they awarded financial aid. Financial aid is based on need, and since my housing was free (as payment for being a Resident Assistant), someone decided to adjust my need to take out the housing costs. This meant that my grants and loans were lowered and all of a sudden there was a gap between what I owed and what my package covered. Almost $1,600 to be exact.
The financial aid employee that explained the whole process was more than happy to suggest I sign up for a Signature loan with… guess who… Sallie Mae. At the time, things like a variable interest rate and the term “unsubsidized” meant nothing. Unless I had $1,600, the employee told me with feigned concern, this loan would be the best option. Looking back now, maybe I should have been tipped off by the multiple chotchkies around their office with the Sallie Mae logo proudly displayed.
Conflict of interest, what?
Anyway, fast forward a little. The time comes to consider consolidating my loans and locking in at a low interest rate. Surprisingly enough, this gem of a loan I was encouraged to sign out does not fall under Sallie Mae’s consolidation policy! Look at the variable interest rate laughing at me as it hovers around 8 or 9 percent. So now I have two loans – the consolidated loan (which has been in deferment since my years with AmeriCorps), and the signature loan (which I’ve been paying off since graduation).
Now, I come to the fun part. Last month, I noticed two things – the deferment on my consolidated loan will be up in April and I could afford to pay the complete remaining balance on my signature loan. To me, this seemed like a great idea because it meant I could get the signature loan off my plate and start working on the behemoth that was about to hit my bank account each month.
Sallie Mae, on the other hand, did not like this idea.
I tried multiple times to enter the complete remaining balance in the online billing form, only to receive error message after error message telling me I could not pay that amount. It allowed me to pay the required payment amount (about half the remaining amount), but wouldn’t let me pay the whole thing.
Interesting practice, huh? The amount they made by dragging my signature loan out another month isn’t a huge amount of money, but think about what that means in the grand scheme of things (and I do mean scheme). That nice little policy means quite a few bucks headed their way… which is definitely interesting considering their stock dropped by about 50% between November and January.
The massive stock drop must have been just enough to push Sallie Mae to unleash their dogs. In the past 24 hours, I have received 11 phone calls from four different numbers that all lead back to Sallie Mae. Why? Good question. My next payment isn’t due until Sunday. I’d love to hear a message letting me know why my phone has lit up multiple times in the past 24 hours, but apparently Sallie Mae representatives aren’t sure how voicemails work. Instead, I have to look the numbers up on the internet to find out who I’m getting these calls from-
This is why education lending reform HAS to happen. Uneducated high school and college students making decisions based on biased financial aid officers bought out by lending corporations is appalling. I’m deep in this mess now, but others should be spared the harassment and lifetime of debt (make it 12 calls now).
Deception and Hope
For the past week, I’ve been repeatedly accused of being deceived. I’m being won over by slick words and pretty speeches, rather than solid policy proposals. It’s interesting and somewhat perplexing to listen to television pundits, editorial writers, and even people I know tell me I am lacking the ability to think independently.
And apparently it’s not only me. Millions of young people are being told they don’t understand politics. We’re the “Facebook” crowd, as Hillary Clinton’s chief strategist called us, “only a few of [us] look like [we] could vote in any state.”
Of course, we see how that worked out in Iowa. Catching pretty much everyone not paying attention to Obama off-guard, the young vote that’s been sought after for the past few elections finally showed up. The same vote that could have spared this country 8 years of G.W., the same vote that was pretty much sworn off, made it to the Iowa caucuses and turned some heads.
I think what cracks me up more than anything is that one of the first points I hear in the argument accusing me of being deceived is that all Obama does is go out and make pretty speeches. He’s naive and his supports are too. We don’t understand the complexities of world affairs and the best approach to handle issues like terrorism or the global economy, and Obama glosses over these items in his well-spoken speeches.
While I can’t deny that Obama’s speeches are light on content and heavy on inspiration, I’m stuck wondering who among the major candidates of either party are giving us in depth views on specific policy ideas they would enact. When, ever, have the primaries been the time to be heavy on content? The answer is never! The purpose of the primaries is to simply energize your base and convince voters that you understand the issues that need to be addressed as president and that you are ready to take them on. If you highlight enough issues that strike a chord with voters, pretty soon you see your delegate count rise as people say to themselves, “wow, this candidate understands what I’m struggling with and is ready to take them on.”
And is it really that bad of an approach? Why is it a problem when a candidate seeks to inspire people? If any candidate took time to lay down policy after policy after policy, they’d quickly find themselves at the bottom of the polls and without an invitation to televised debates. The majority of the American electorate does not want to have to digest anything. Why do you think Ron Paul is quickly becoming the Libertarian version of Nader? (insert Tracy Jordan line from “30 Rock”… “I think I voted for Nader… NADER!”)
Believe it or not, Obama and his team have pulled together ideas and policies to approach some of the biggest issues our government faces. The struggle I keep finding is that the people accusing me of being deceived don’t want to have an actual discussion. They want to be the cool people that make fun of the bandwagon-jumpers, but don’t want to hear that someone of us made our decision with clear, educated, rational thought.
So, anyway, that being said, I am effectively suspending my campaign for president and officially endorsing Barack Obama.
It’s Finally Here
Well, Super-Amazing-Fantastic-Tsunami-Fat-Duper-Tuesday is finally here. It’s such a weird feeling to know that at the end of the day, the race for party nominations will be a lot closer to a final decision. I don’t think it’s hard to guess which candidate earned my vote this morning. Much to my surprise, my polling location was a half of a block away and had no lines this morning as I was given a marker, a long sheet of paper, and instructions to basically play a matching game. I am officially a Chicago voter.
A cold and knee-deep snow gave me a reason to work from home on Friday and Monday, allowing me to take in all of the beauty that is the 24-hour news cycle. For the most part, I was treated to a loop of sound bites and in-depth analysis of what each candidate had for breakfast that morning. I’ve heard that the primary and general presidential election have become nothing more than a beauty or popularity contest, and if you pay attention to what these pundits have to say, you’re probably right. There’s no coverage of their actual positions or proposals, but instead we get to hear crap that doesn’t matter but somehow has been classified as news.
Somewhere in the garbage that’s fed to us, someone can actually dig a little and find real news and important coverage of the ideas and strategies that each candidate is talking about. The thing is, I am still waiting for a Hillary Clinton supporter to show any sign of understanding what her proposals are. I’m just left dumbfounded. I hear a lot of criticism thrown at Obama about how great his speeches are, but how little substance there is in the form of actual policy and proposals. Maybe it’s because I’ve been reading his books and campaign literature and listening to his speeches for the past year, but I just don’t see how anyone that has invested time into researching the candidates could say that.
But maybe that’s the problem.
I have a lot of hope for today’s results. Across the country, my age demographic is finally starting to pay attention and follow through by heading to the polls. There is a deep desire to have a president that inspires and leads in a positive way for the greater good, not a shill of war-mongering corporations.
I feel like there’s something better that we should be striving for, and to me, there’s only one candidate that can lead us in that direction.