Democratic Debate on NPR

Finally, a debate with a little bit of actual substance. The Democratic presidential candidates debated on National Public Radio this afternoon, and not surprisingly it was a far better debate than any of the television (or YouTube) debates so far. (I caught it intermittently as I was going from store to store looking for Wiis to sell on eBay…I got one from Toys’R’Us, which should net me about $150 profit.)

The debate was focused on Iran, China, and immigration. There was nothing exciting about the Iran discussion except Clinton’s dogged defense of her support of the resolution labeling the Revolutionary Guard Corps a terrorist organization. Aside from wishful thinking about a Kucinich presidency, I don’t have strong feelings about the Democratic field except that Clinton would be the worst choice; she’s too much of a hawk and wouldn’t be likely to shift the center of American political discourse far enough away from where it is now.

With the China section, I was really disappointed that none of the candidates see trade with China as primarily or significantly an ecological problem. Among other things, the ongoing New York Times series about China’s pollution crisis, Choking on Growth, has convinced me that, more so than human rights, labor standards and the effects on U.S. jobs, the biggest problem with outsourcing manufacturing to China is that China has far looser environmental regulations. Trade with China (or anyone) ought to be dependent on the environmental impact of the traded product’s manufacture. Unfortunately, global warming is pushing so many other acute environmental issues into the background. And even still, “make and use less stuff” isn’t a solution that is a viable political position.