Yearly Kos Presidential Forum

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1:10 PM Introduction. I will summarize: Blogs are good. Bush is bad. (Starting to wonder if people know he’s not running this time.)

1:11 PM Matt Bai. “Not used to so much appreciation from the blogs.” Applause, laughter: “He’s right, we’re totally hysterical, insecure, finicky rage-aholics! Funny! Ha-ha!”

1:12 PM Applause for Gravel, then so much standing ovation I can’t really tell who started it. Also I can’t see. Bai: “This is not going to be one of those forums where people hold their applause.”

1:15 PM It’s Obama’s birthday! He’s now old enough to drive. Omigod. They’re singing “Happy Birthday” to him. What will Bill O’Reilly make of that? Some Nuremberg rally this is.

1:18 PM Richard admits “I screwed up” in saying “Whizzer” White was his ideal Supreme Court judge. Might big of him. Now, about being both a Red Sox and Yankees fan…

1:19 PM The mere mention of “Roe versus Wade” prompts some people to hoot in appreciation.

1:20 PM KT weighs in on Richardson’s answer: “diversity would be his FIRST criterion for a supreme court justice? uh-oh. isn’t that how we got clarence thomas?”

1:21 PM Dodd says he’s the only one on the panel who voted for Roberts’s confirmation. Are there hisses? There are hisses.

1:21 PM I would be remiss to not mention that Marc Ambinder, seated two chairs away, is also liveblogging. Hi, Marc!

1:22 PM McJoans (moderator) name-check “prominent health care blogger,” the dreamy Ezra Klein! Smattering of high-pitched hoots.

1:23 PM Q to Clinton. I believe she is in favor of some kind of health care program. Huh. Does anyone out there know anything about this? Kidding!

1:24 PM She learned a lot from the Hillarycare debacle. I assume not enough to not try it again. (Kidding again!)

1:25 PM Obama: against spending money on Iraq. Against Bush tax cuts (THAT guy again!), against stuff. However: pro American people. Also, children.

1:27 PM Obama mentions “wars we should not have authorized.” Unspoken but blantant: LIKE I WOULDN’T HAVE, I MEAN. He gets more time because it is his birthday.

1:29 PM Edwards thinks this room is “full of people who are about change.” The pandering starts now! Evil companies! Change! Bush bad! Hoots and applause and we’re going to storm the castle!

1:30 PM Richardson is booed for saying he’s in favor of a line item veto. Huh.

1:32 PM This debate is going last ELEVENTY HUNDRED HOURS. If you want to watch it, here’s the link:

1:32 PM Dodd takes a q on information access. Evil companies! He manages to name check Rupert Murdoch: BAD. Also: Bill O’Reilly: BAD.

1:34 PM HRC wants to have “more competition, more voices” and to “keep the internet open.”

1:35 PM Ben Smith, who is not sitting next to me, is also liveblogging, here.

1:35 PM Kucinich would shut down the nuclear power industry? He’s for single-payer health care. Mentions Sicko. My, he’s tiny.

1:36 PM More from KT: “props to richardson for the balanced budget amendment. first time someone in this panderfest has said something this audience doesn’t agree with.”

1:37 PM “This question was submitted in some form or another by hundreds and hundreds,” it’s about restoring balance to branches of government. To Edwards.

1:37 PM Will close Gitmo, restore rights, etc. etc. (I need a macro for this.) “We don’t want to trade our insiders for theirs… I won’t take money from lobbyists,” compliments Obama for same. Asks other candidates to take same pledge. HOOTING, STOMPING, HE IS SHOUTING NOW, WHOOOOOOO. STOMP STOMP.

1:40 PM Gravel. Some applause. I missed the q but not sure that’s important, as he simply starts in on the hating of the other candidates. “They believe in a structure of government that doesn’t work,” and, uhm, he’s against income tax? Where did I put my tin foil hat? Is listing the top, three, no, four! things that come into politicians’ heads. Applause for something. I think “change.”

1:42 PM Bai: “Maybe you could not applaud SO much?”

1:43 PM McJoan refers to “President Clinton” rather than Bush. Ha ha.

1:43 PM Observes a colleague: “this is the most useless forum that i’ve seen yet. the cheering is creepy and the format is making engagement and followup impossible.” It is kind of weirdly more like a rally…

1:45 PM HRC: will withdraw from Iraq. “Safely, responsibly.” Manages to work “that’s why I’m in a fight with Dick Cheney and Eric Edelman.”

1:46 PM Smattering of hoots and applause for Kucinich’s plea to impeach Cheney.

1:47 PM Dodd likes the young people serving, does not like the war.

1:48 PM Richardson has “a one point plan to get out of Iraq: get out.” Ha-ha. Also, “no risdual troops.” Bai asks him to contrast this with his support for intervention in Darfur. EXCELLENT point, which Richardson shoots back there is “already a civil war.” So: they’re already killing each other, let’s just get out of the way! That way they can kill each other faster!

1:51 PM Asks a colleague: Is Obama still up there? Maybe he’s in the bathroom?

1:51 PM Apparently he just got back. Obama would like to “hunt down” the traitors of 9/11. Another macro. He works in reference to late-night visit to Ashcroft. Smart little piece for this crowd.

1:53 PM He does condone terrorism!

1:54 PM EDWARDS! SHOUTING! LOUD NOISES! “More allies, fewer terrorists!” “We should not accept George Bush’s way of framing this question.” Edwards just talks over Bai’s attempt to cut him off.

1:56 PM HRC: “Your question is not exactly pointing in the way it needs to be.” And in one response, she summarizes her entire approach to running for president. “It’s a war on TERRORISTS, not TERRORISM.” Oh, I can hear the right-wing blogs starting to slobber over that already…

1:59 PM Obama gets a China question: Is it a trade partner or a menace? Floor wax or dessert topping? He notes we should reconcile our trade balance, put pressure on them for human rights, and “make sure that we are active in the world.” He’s been to Africa.

2:02 PM Dodd. Peace Corps. (Yet another macro needed.) (Note to Kristi: Diet Pepsi was obtained. Downed two. Thanks for asking!)

2:03 PM McJoan to Edwards about Pakistan. Yes, to Edwards. Because there isn’t anyone else on the panel who’s said anything incredibly provocative about Pakistan recently.

2:06 PM I was worried when Edwards was talking and not shouting, but then he did. He’s Richardson macro needed for how he used to be at the United Nations.

2:07 PM Question for the entire panel: “Will you hire an official White House blogger?” Awesome. Edwards would hire Elizabeth Edwards. Nepotism! Of course, he got burned going outside the family last time. Also: Mike Gravel would be the White House blogger himself! So best. I think he should be the official White House blogger no matter who wins!

2:10 PM Gravel: Not every state official in Alaska is corrupt.

2:11 PM McJoan asks who of the panelists would commit to visiting Alaska as part of Dean’s 50 state strategy. This is not immediately laughed at.

2:12 PM Obama says the people in this room are very important. They will make a difference. References Bush v Gore.

2:13 PM Hillary won’t commit to the Alaska thing but she’s pro-50 state strategy! And puppies! Ice cream!

2:15 PM Richardson favors paper ballots, is against suppressing votes.

2:17 PM KT writes:

hillary: “what howard dean has done at the dnc is exactly right.”

Take THAT, former Clinton White House official Rahm Emanuel, who fought Dean tooth and nail on that last year.

But it’s not like she means it.

2:18 PM Edwards again calls for vowing not to take lobbyist money. Bai tosses to HRC. She quips: “I think it’s a position that John certainly has taken.” She does not take the pledge and gets some boos. She calls this a reality check about her being here. Bai: “Will you continue to take money from lobbyists?” HRC: “Yes, yes I will.” Sister Souljah moment, anyone? A weird one, if so. HRC: THE UNABASHED PRO LOBBYIST CANDIDATE.

2:21 PM Dodd calls for public financing. STANDING O. Obama compliments him on it; he shoots back: “I’m not a new comer, I’ve been doing this for 50 years.” Then he pointedly takes the lobbying thing to HRC: “I disagree with the notion that lobbyists do not have disproportionate influence.” Then there is shouting and applause and a standing ovation and I cannot hear a thing he says.”

2:23 PM Edwards asks “who in the room has a lobbyist working for them? They do not work for you.” Nicely done.

2:23 PM Kucinich asks if Edwards would expand his ban to include donations from Wall Street hedge funds? Audience give an impressed “whoa…..” Edwards insists it’s lobbyists who are the problem. The candidates are MUCH tougher on each other than the moderators or the questioners. Finally some liveliness. I’M IN YR DEBATES, CALLING YOU ON YOUR SH*T.

2:27 PM Richardson: pro qualified appointees.

2:27 PM Dodd: anti military commissions act.

2:28 PM Obama: Also pro qualifications. And ethics. Against former WH staffers becoming lobbyists.

2:29 PM HRC: “As I listen to John, I think we have a vigorous agreement…” Ha. We’re working on a unanimous panel in favor of qualifications. Quip: “We also have a ‘unitary vice president.'” But now she’s all about lobbyists are people too again. But also pro public financing.

2:33 PM Bai says we all appreciate you coming. I totally appreciate it being over!