1st District Debate

Just watched the WMUR debate between Jeb Bradley and Carol Shea-Porter. Allow me to summarize: We can't fire President Bush for getting us stuck in a mess in Iraq, so the only thing to do is to fire his supporters, like Bradley. But then we'll get Shea-Porter, and all her ideas will involve lots of spending, which means lots of taxes.

Woohoo! Can't wait to vote in this one.

Bottom line: Bradley didn't mess up. If he's going to lose, it's because there's more dissatisfaction regarding Iraq than he realizes, not because of anything either candidate said or didn't say in this debate.

A few other thoughts, in order of when they occurred during the debate:

  • Bradley has what can only be called a moderate position on abortion, but the way he described it is guaranteed to anger activists on both sides. He wants to be known as pro-choice (a no-no on the right), and he wants you to know he voted against late-term abortions and for parental consent (no good on the left).
  • On Iraq, Bradley is holding out for a reasonable level of stability before we bring the troops home. Shea-Porter wonders whether he has any idea how to achieve such stability. No, but he has visited Iraq three times.
  • Asked to justify the Bush tax cuts, Bradley says (more or less): Tax cuts? New Hampshire loves tax cuts! Of course I supported them. Then he channeled Al Gore from the 2000 campaign: Unemployment is DOWN, job creation is UP. In rebuttal, Shea-Porter says the tax cuts only helped the richest 1 percent. If you like to eat pizza on Friday night (she didn't say what the 1 percenters eat instead), she'll help you out.
  • Bradley's first chance to ask a question: Enough about Iraq. Why do you love illegal aliens? (Again, I'm paraphrasing slightly.) Shea-Porter: Punish employers who hire illegal aliens. A wall is too expensive. And we're going broke because of Iraq. Bradley (trying again): You support Ted Kennedy's health care bill. Is there no limit to how much you'll tax us? Shea-Porter: I want to expand Medicare, which takes great care of seniors, to cover younger people in the workforce. Why do you want young people to be sick?
  • Her turn to ask a question: Back to Iraq. Which of the sectarian militias is the one that's going to do the stabilizing you keep talking about? Bradley: I've been there three times.
  • Question to Bradley: Why are you against gay marriage when you once supported gay rights? Answer: I've always opposed gay marriage, just like my good buddy, Bill Clinton, who signed the Defense of Marriage Act. (Ever notice how every Republican who refers to that law always mentions that Clinton signed it?) . . . The fondness for Bill ebbs when the subject turns to North Korean nukes, which are Clinton's fault.
  • Why does Shea-Porter take money from presidential candidates' PACs but not other PACs? One, she knows they're good guys. Two, Bradley has such big yard signs, she has to take some money. Three, she can't possibly be compromised by taking money from Democratic presidential candidates. After all, what can she possibly do to help them? (This is the debate's high point of irony.)
  • Energy prices: Shea-Porter marvels at how gas prices have come down but insists we need a man-on-the-moon kind of commitment to energy independence. Bradley points out he drove his hybrid to the debate. Plus she wants to spend a lot of money.
  • Shea-Porter wants face-to-face talks with North Korea because we need to tell them what's what. We can't rely on China because, alas, we can't tell them what's what because we're in hock up to our eyeballs. (I don't think any American politician ever won an election by saying there's a country we can't tell what's what.)
  • Bradley is proud of votes against his party. Shea-Porter says he votes with Bush 90 percent of the time. So which is it, she asks, are you moderate, as you claim, or conservative, like George Bush? (I can't confirm that this was the moment when Drew Cline spit up his soup.)
  • Another chance for Bradley to ask a question. On spending, I think. Or Ted Kennedy. Did you know that even John Kerry says you can't raise enough money with rolling back the tax cuts? (Let's see. That makes Shea-Porter more liberal than Kerry. Possibly not as liberal as Teddy K, though.) It's here that she calls Bradley "Jeb" for the first time, instead of Congressman. He's called her Carol throughout.
  • She wants him to sign a pledge against privatizing Social Security. He says he is against privatization and that all other ideas have pros and cons. Like her plan for a big tax increase. (What's the pro? He allows that it would ensure solvency.)
  • Scott Spradling asks about pork for New Hampshire. Bradley says he wants more for Interstate 93 and some bridges in the district. Shea-Porter mocks him and the rest of the state delegation for bringing home the least transportation bacon of all states. (Maybe this was where Drew's soup came up.)
  • Name a politician from the other party you admire. Shea-Porter: I could but I won't. We need to elect Democrats. Bradley: FDR, Truman, JFK. All great leaders and great Americans. (And all dead.)