Wheels of a train at the National Railway Museum, York, England. Photo by David Holmes.
I stayed up until 5 a.m. Paris time watching the Democratic debate (via streaming video on MSNBC.com). Can't say I was impressed with Sen. Hillary Clinton's performance. She was in turn combative, defensive and petulant. She talked a lot, but didn't say anything new. Sen. Barack Obama remained cool and collected, even when Clinton was talking over him and the moderators. The tone reminded me of the last debate between French presidential candidates Nicolas Sarkozy and Segelene Royal - she challenged his positions; he calmly defended himself. Sarkozy won the election.
The hosts of Tuesday's debate should have left the questioning to Brian Williams, as Tim Russert's often inane questions and aggressive manner suggested he doesn't understand the concept of being a neutral moderator.
I'll be very surprised if Hillary Clinton's campaign hasn't been derailed by poor planning and racist attacks, never mind the candidate's own unpredictable behaviour and flashes of temper from both Clinton and her husband. As for Clinton's campaign surrogates, I have been astonished by their racist, divisive actions within the past few days. If by some fluke Hillary manages to pull the rug from beneath Obama and become the nominee, I would find it difficult to vote for her. While I once was a fan, the arrogant and reckless manner in which she has run this campaign has caused me to lose respect for her ability to be an effective leader.
I thought I'd never see the day when a black member of Congress deliberately used a racial slur against a fellow Democrat - and a presidential candidate at that! In a television interview this week, Ohio Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs-Jones responded to allegations that a Clinton campaign staffer had given the Drudge Report a photo of Obama wearing native dress while on a visit to Kenya. The obvious intent was that gullible people who believe hate-fueled rumours and innuendo would look at the photo and think "Horrors! He looks foreign, "like a Muslim!" The inference of course is that all Muslims are to be feared; never mind that Obama is neither Muslim nor foreign - and that most Muslims advocate peace and abhor terrorism.
Congresswoman Tubbs-Jones poured fuel on the fire:
"This is a diverse country and people across America recognize that. I would not personally have done it (released the photo) and we can't attribute it to anybody in our campaign, but the Clinton campaign does not condone the conduct and we would hope that America is going to have an opportunity or begin to see if we're supporting a woman or an African-American for President, we ought to be able to support their ability to wear the clothing of their nation." Then she said it a second time, for emphasis.
How stupid can an elected official be, suggesting Obama is not American? He's as American as she is. And non-Americans can't run for president. It's no wonder the rest of the world views America's government with dismay, when even Democratic elected officials publicly make fools of themselves - and the candidate they're supporting.
On a brighter note, I was glad to see Chris Dodd, the highly-respected senator from Connecticut throw his support behind Obama. Dodd has been instrumental in trying to stop the Bush administration's telecom friends from receiving retroactive immunity for spying on Americans.
What do you think of all the campaign squabbles and back-and-forth accusations? Do you think an extended race without a nominee will harm the Democrats, when squaring off against the expected Republican challenger John McCain? Are the internal Democratic tussles providing ammunition for the Republicans?