by Jonathan Singer, Wed Nov 14, 2007 at 01:44:48 PM EST
I'm down in Mountain View at the Google world headquarters for the coming dialogue with Barack Obama. According to media reports, Obama will lay out his tech agenda, which includes the creation of a chief technology officer position to ensure that the federal government is conducted in an open manner, and a commitment to net neutrality. The event should be starting momentarily and I'll be liveblogging with thoughts throughout.
Obama next takes questions from the audience. The first questioner notes that Bill Clinton was the only Democrat in the post-war era to win two elections and asks Obama what he would learn from Clinton. Obama says that he believes int he importance of the moment, that Clinton understood the moment in the early 1990s, worked as a different kind of Democrat, which was a powerful message for that time. The moment today, Obama says, requires an honesty with the American people, and not necessarily doing things the way they've been done before.
Democrats lose when they are not strong about what they stand for. Democrats lose when they don't know what they stand for and get defensive when they get hit rather then going back on the offensive. In effect, Obama says "bring it on" to Giuliani and Romney about the culture of fear, saying that we don't need to redefine torture-like tactics to make them legal, that we don't need to double the size of Guantanamo.
On a question regarding the deficit, Obama says that the first step is ending the Iraq War. Obama also talks about honest accounting, not hiding debts. But the biggest problem Obama sees in terms of the federal budget is healthcare spending, Medicare and Medicaid. Technology, he says, could help with the costs. So, too, could investing in prevention.
The next question comes on the "perceived weakness" surrounding the issue of experience. Obama talks about the fact that the people who founded Google didn't have a whole lot of experience running Fortune 500 companies, which elicits more than a few laughs. Obama then says that judgment and character are paramount, but also that his experience can be put up against that of any of the other candidates. Obama points to achievements within the Illinois state Senate. Obama also speaks about standing up for what he believed in even when it wasn't necessarily popular, such as when he spoke out against the impending Iraq War even when George W. Bush was at 65 percent in the polls. Obama also speaks of finding the right talent to achieve the goals of his administration.
The final question comes on fighting special interests -- how to get insiders to fix a system they benefit from. Obama says that people need to use shame, pointing to his successful work with Russ Feingold on the toughest lobbying reform since Watergate. Transparency is important in the process, he says, because the more the American people know the more government will be held accountable. On healthcare, Obama says the lesson from the Clinton healthcare plan is that the plan shouldn't be created behind closed doors, that he would bring everyone to the table but that that table would be in the open (on C-SPAN, on the net). "And if they put up 'Harry and Louise' ads", Obama would go on YouTube and talk back. Obama also says that decisions should be made on facts and reason.
Prior updates below the fold...