First, let me say I am sitting here typing prior to 7am as February is coming in like the lion March is suppose to be. My kids have snow day although there may be little snow happening. I can hear the sleet and freezing rain on the windows now which means I will most likely, if this is as long as my piece about the GOP debate the other night, not get through this as my power will go out. That being said I better go fill the tea kettle and maybe the tub so we have water for flusing and drinking – no power, no pump, oh the joys of living in a rural area.

Good news my winter weather advisory has been dropped. I now live in a ice storm warning area. The weather service is wonderful. I wonder which meteorologist slid off the road getting to the local airport to get that change going.

Anyway, on to the debate (if this seems not finished, it is because I am going to periodically save it). As with the setting of the GOP debate on Wed, the setting of the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles was genius. Of course, most people, whether they follow entertainment news or not, realize in the back of their mind that this is where the Academy Awards are held. There were 2500 tickets to this event. From the dress of the crowd and the pictures of it shown during the debate – I don’t recall a lot of celebrities in the GOP crowd but I also don’t recall the cameras scanning more than the front row where Nancy Reagan and Arnold Schwartznegger sat, all 2500 tickets went to Hollywood elite – Bradley Whitford, Stevie Wonder, Fran Drescher, Stephen Spielberg, Rob Reiner, Jason Alexander to name a few.

I sat down to watch with what was left of a fairly good bottle of California merlot. I figured, if the pundits and media were to be believed, this was going to be a blood letting of epic proportions. I couldn’t even finish my glass of wine it was such a love fest.

We did get to hear some distinct differences between the two candidates – oh yes, there were two candidates there along with the celebrities. We were also treated to a different format, not because the rules were different but because the number of candidates was different. Each candidate got to make an opening statement which is more like a competitive debate. This should have made Hillary Clinton feel right at home. Even though it was over 35 years ago, she was the captain of the Wellsley debate team.

Obama’s opening statement started with thanking John Edwards for bringing the causes he brought to the campaign. Blatant kissing up is not what I was looking for. He also kept up that thread of regardless of who goes forward from the democratic party, it will make history. Believe it or not, as a democratic voter, I am not interested in making that kind of history. I am interested in the economy making a historic turnaround. I am interested in health care and costs finally being dealt with in a historic, bi-partisan manner. I am not going to vote for either of these people based on the fact that their nomination and possible consequent election to the highest post in the land will make history.

Clinton’s opening statement did play on history making also. She started with a scenario of the first whichever dependent on who is the party’s nominee being sworn in to office. Then, she went right to her scenario, and the biggest push of her campaign, that all the problems that will await the new president on the desk in the Oval Office will be better handled by someone with experience. This may very well be true but I am not sure it plays as well as the buzz word of change.

Both candidates admitted that while they have policy differences, these difference pale in comparison to the chasm between either of them and any of the republican candidates.

I do hope that Lance Armstrong was watching this debate. The first 45 minutes, approximately, were spent on health care. While I did hear chronic conditions and preventative care mentioned frequently, not a single muttering of the word cancer and finding a cure came from either candidate. Both of these candidates sat at a forum the Lance Armstrong Foundation held in November of last year and promised to keep this in the forefront. Neither really has.

Again, I ask when is a candidate actually going to say the hard thing about the mortgage crisis. Clinton, again, discussed her mortgage foreclosure freeze and an interest rate freeze. Obama mentioned his $10billion – yes, I said billion – home foreclosure prevention fund. He did take a swipe at the current administration for a lack of oversight which allowed the mess to happen. But, is anyone – republican or democrat – that people should have known better and the federal government should not be bailing out individual stupidity?

There were some major differences in the two candidates health care proposals. Both did mention that paying for the massive ticket cost of each would be done through savings from either preventative care or modernization of the system. The major difference, though, is whether everyone will end up covered in the end. Clinton’s plan will require everyone to be covered. Obama’s plan will not. Some think tanks say that Obama’s plan will still leave 15 million Americans without insurance. He says he doesn’t believe this number.

When asked about how either of them will fight back against what will surely be the call from the GOP side of tax and spend liberals, both agreed that the current administration’s fiscal management did not give the other side a leg to stand on. Both will allow the Bush tax cuts to expire and roll the savings from that into their health care programs.

There were few jabs thrown at the other candidate on the dias. One of the only ones came from Obama when the discussion turned to immigration. He went after Clinton’s mind changing – the word flip flop was not used – on driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants. Clinton went back saying that it took Obama some time to make a decision.

I finally got bored of all the polite behaviour. When you expect a fight and get a pleasant family dinner, you want to leave early. I tuned out a bit early. I did, though, put on my notes well ahead of Wolf Blitzer’s final question, “could they be running as partners?”