Photo, Brian Kaldorf.
Look at him go. Look at Chris Potter presiding over the discussion, urging his panelists onwards to more profound, more perfect realms of thought. Like a pioneer urging his wagon-train through a muddy creek.
He and the mysterious Pat Clark, with the chalices of ale.
Alt-weeklies are at some distinct disadvantages, chief of which being that they come out exactly once a week. This edition probably went to press on Monday, March 17th.
Valarie McDonald Roberts: I'm sick of talking about race. I am really, really tired of it. And it really undermines the candidates themselves. We really do have to focus on that individual and their character and their policies.
Another function of the time lapse, or the jet lag, was the err on the side of civility. That is not a criticism -- one can elect to err on the side of this, or of that.
Given the period we had been through, it was the correct editorial and programmatic decision.
Out of the way:
Maria Lupinacci: We give lip service to what's important in this country, that children are important, that education is important, that health care is important, that families are important. And Hillary Clinton has spent her entire life's work being an advocate for that. It impresses when she tried to bring health care to the American people before the public was ready...
That all represents a very compelling reason to be a Hillary Clinton supporter, and one reason the Comet would be most pleased with her presidency.
But on the other hand, she will fight. I do a lot of fund-raising for Democrats, and I hear, "Why don't we have a backbone? Why don't we fight?
This is a familiar trope in the respective approaches of the Clinton and the Obama movments. Clinton supporters are readily dismissive of Obaman Togetherness, while Obama supporters are equally dismissive of Clintonian Combativeness.
For the Comet's money, the Obamans have history on their side. Maybe there are reasons the Democrats haven't been winning, and haven't changed the narrative in America. Maybe there are reasons Ronald Reagan had so many Reagan Democrats, and we are still living in his wake.
Maybe there are reasons Reagan was Reagan.
Jason Tigano: Senator [Barack] Obama has probably the best opportunity to become president. With his characteristics, he can really unite the country. He can bring people together in a way that I think would be better than Senator Clinton and also Senator McCain -- trying to grow our reputation internationally as well as bringing the country together with Democrats and Republicans here at home.
We were quite alarmed that the URA's Public and Legislative Affairs Manager was allowed inside a decent establishment, let alone turn out to be an Obama supporter. Must have come standard-issue.
JT: I think [Obama] would give Republicans something very different to try to tackle, as opposed to [dredging] up what happened with President Clinton eight years ago with the different scandals. ... I think the single biggest issue that America faces right now is the lack of a United States of America. Very similar to what [Obama] talked about when he was at the [2004 Democratic] convention...
In any event, he has it down.
Barbara Ernsberger: Unpaid medical bills are one of the leading causes of bankruptcy in this country. ... This can be [the] working poor, this can be people without employment ... it could be a young person, it could be an older person. That's a problem across the board. I think we need an aggressive health plan that addresses those issues. Senator Clinton said ... that if you have health coverage with your employer, or if you're purchasing it yourself and you're happy with it, fine. But if you're not, she's going to make available what is available to Congress, to other Americans. I think that is what you have to do.
Health care is incredibly important, and Hillary Clinton has been fighting health care battles for eons. To insist that we need the most aggressive health care plan now, however...
Press reports, if they are to be believed, describe the Obama plan and the Clinton plan as very similar. Clinton goes a little further, yet by all accounts the two represent much more health care than we have now, delivered by very similar means.
Whose stands the best chance of being successfully enacted?
ML: As far as the electability issue, the Republicans have already spent around $100 million going after Hillary. Everything's out there on the table; we know exactly what to expect. ... [And] I don't trust the Republicans to make nice. "Nonpartisan" is a great word, but we have some real differences on issues. ... I don't want eight years of [partisan] war, but I don't want to [abandon Clinton and] reward Republicans for spending $100 million to try and tear our people down either.
With respect, as far as the $100 million dollars goes, there are a lot of other reasons that Hillary has such intractable high negatives. Sexism is no doubt one of those reasons. Something lacking from within is probably another one.
At the very least, the ability to rally the non-partisan middle, and the ability to excite and recruit unconventional voters, has never been Sen. Hillary Clinton's strong suit.
VMR: I am supporting Senator Barack Obama for a number of reasons. ... I've looked at his heart, and it's been a long time since I've seen that level of sincerity, honesty, integrity, compassion, faith. I've also looked at his mind to see so much wisdom, common sense, as well as intellect. If you combine both of them, I think what draws me as well as so many others are truth and trust. The American people, myself included, have to trust, and we've lost a sense of that in Washington, D.C. I think he will bring that back.
Clintonians tend to deride all of these things, but they are real and palpable and apprehendable. They are in fact central to a great mass of voters, especially those in the middle.
However you want to define "middle".
BY WAY OF CONTINUATION: Council member Ricky Burgess and school board member Heather Arnet are scheduled to debate and discuss the presidential campaign, this Sunday morning on KDKA Sunday Edition with Jon Delano. Awesome.