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“No matter how I struggle and strive”

July 2, 2007

I watched the Democratic debate at Howard University on friday.  You can find it here: 

My thoughts on the specific questions they asked:

The question about education and employment was a very interesting one, i thought: black high school graduates have an unemployment rate 15%(or so) higher than white high school dropouts.  Why/what to do about it?  First off, Clinton was the only one who came close to answering the question, by mentioning (briefly) workplace discrimination.  Everyone else went on about the acheivement gap.  While a serious problem in its own right, the gap has almost nothing to do with the question about graduates vs. dropouts.  Biden did the worst job (though many of the others sounded similar), and came off sounding like “oh, those poor black mothers just don’t know how to raise their kids.”

HIV/AIDS (basically, black teenagers are getting it way more now, how do we fix that?) – Edwards went first and completely failed to even mention any kind of prevention, as if finding a cure for AIDS was more reasonable than, for example, giving kids condoms.  He also fialed to mention his health care plan; it looked like a perfect segue to me.  Obama answered very well, saying that AIDS rates are not simply a problem in themselves, but a symptom of much larger problems.  Clinton got an ovation for this comment: “If HIV/AIDS were the leading cause of death of white women between the ages of 25 and 34, there would be an outraged outcry in this country.”  And i think Obama and Biden were the only ones to mention prevention.  It also led to the funniest moment of the debate: when Biden mentioned that he had been tested for HIV, as had Senator Obama, Obama quickly defended that he had been tested with Michelle (his wife) when they were in Africa.

Taxes (or, why do the rich sneak out of so much?) – Obama said that people are not looking for charity, which i much approve of.  He also talked of taxes in terms of “investments,” which is exactly what they are (despite that the Repubs would have us think they are a punishment).  Gravel made the stupidest suggestion of the whole debate, that we should replace the income tax with sales tax.  Sales tax – the most regressive form of taxation there is!  Clinton also used some much-needed progressive terminology: “patriotic.”

The last four questions were hardly worth watching.  Each candidate got about 30 seconds to respond, which is simply not enough time to say anything of note.

Some overall notes:

I still like what Richardson has to say, but he (and Dodd) ran over his allotted time on almost every question, which can’t help but make one look like a bit of an asshole.

I still think Gravel is rather terrible, but he mentioned the miserable failure that is the “war on drugs” multiple times, linking it to entrenched racism/race problems in AIDS and prison sentancing – all of which i quite agree with.

Lady Brett
“I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive” – Jimmie Dale Gilmore

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