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Regrets flow freely at Democratic debate

Cole_porter It's one of our favorite Cole Porter tunes (especially the 1934 version by the incomparable Ethel Waters): "Miss Otis Regrets." And the song ran through our head frequently during Tuesday night's Democratic presidential debate, as regret after regret was expressed by the three candidates on stage.

Barack Obama regretted -- "not only in hindsight, but going forward" -- that his campaign had been pushing the case that Hillary Clinton recently insulted Martin Luther King Jr.

Obama also rued his "You're likable enough, Hillary" comment the last time they squared off in a debate. The remark -- made Jan. 5 in New Hampshire, where he seemed to be riding high -- later was cited as one reason he lost the state's primary three days later to Clinton.

"My intention was to say, (to Clinton) 'I think you're plenty likable,' he said at Tuesday night's gathering in Las Vegas. "And it did not come out the way it was supposed to."

John Edwards was asked if, during his term in the U.S. Senate, he regretted ...

voting in 2001 for a bill that called for making it much tougher for middle-class folks to declare bankruptcy to relieve themselves of financial problems. Questioner Tim Russert noted that the measure was the precursor to legislation that cleared Congress in 2005 (after Edwards had left office).

"I absolutely do," the candidate replied. "I should not have voted for that" bill.

And even Clinton -- not a politician prone to give an inch -- admitted a mistake when Russert pressed her on supporting the 2001 bill.

"Sure I do," she responded when asked if she regretted that Senate vote.

Of course, she quickly reverted to form, adding: "But it never became law, as you know. It got tied up. It was a bill that had some things I agreed with and other things I didn't agree with, and I was happy that it never became law. I opposed the 2005 bill..."

Still, it was curiously refreshing to hear her and the others not try to reframe what they now see as mistakes.

-- Don Frederick

Photo: Cole Porter (Associated Press)

 
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Asking a question about a bill that never became law is a waste of time. They could have asked, for example, about the support for war. Hillary has been very pro war.

In the White House, her administration would turn to her to get Bill to use the military.

Previous to the Iraq Resolution, she voted against the Levin Resolution, which would have required Bush to come to Congress before going to Iraq. Contrary to her argument, the purpose of the Iraq resolution was to let Bush go to war.

Durbin has since verified this:

One vote for funding the war tied funds to progress by the Iraqi government. She voted no, the only Democrat to vote against the bill. It passed, 80-14, but Bush vetoed it.

She also drummed heavily for movement against Iran.

She was the only presidential candidate to support the bill, calling the Iranian millitary terrorists, and laying the ground work to start another war.

Seems like everyone is taking a breather after the sexist argument, followed by the racist argument. Maybe these are arguments we needed to have. Hopefully, after having them, we can go back discussing the issues that are really important. Otherwise, either candidate will carry the mantle of not having won by support of all people.


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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