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Thursday, April 26, 2007

Who Won Tonight's Dem Prez Debate?

Debate_2I had to miss the live broadcast, so I just got done watching a recording. You can see some of it here. You can also view clips and more here.

I thought Brian Williams' questions were often shallow and designed to create "gotcha" moments. Hey, it's the mainstream media. It appeared that candidates had some difficulty getting going given that eight people were sharing the 90 minutes, and their answers had to be very short. The "debate" came across more like a quiz show than a forum for the discussion of serious issues. Next thing you know, they'll have a gong up there at these events, or someone yelling "you're fired." Maybe they'll force them to dance. With the celebrity pundits. Watch out for a guy in the wings with a hook and the installation of applause meters. Really.

I thought the only excitement was provided by Mike Gravel and Dennis Kucinich, who were the only Dems willing to be confrontive and dismissive of the "business as usual" conduct of the others. People can criticize Gravel for his vociferous responses, but I confess that what he had to say and how he said it sounded more like the sitting-around-talking comments of rank and file Dems than any of the others to me. Somebody acting like there really ARE a bunch of tragedies and emergencies happening all at once in the nation. As upset and worried as we are about it all, and feeling the pain and foreboding. I thought Gravel displayed what came to be a rather welcome lack of polish and programming compared to the others. with their set-piece answers and overly careful rhetoric. He complained he didn't get as much talk time as the others. He didn't.

My takes: Hillary seemed set on cool, calm and collected automatic debate speak. Obama mostly stayed abstract and lofty, but got somewhat defensive and rattled when he was challenged. Richardson seemed a bit nervous and hemmed in by the short times allowed for responses, but he was strong on his answers about Iraq. Edwards seemed a little flat somehow, except at the end. Biden was, well, Biden, and he created some laughter by staying pointedly silent when Williams' asked him about putting his foot in his mouth early in his campaign. Dodd was businesslike. Gravel made Kucinich seem tame, stealing some of the outsider fire. Nobody was really bad, or very good either, in my opinion. Few surprises, lots of practiced talking without saying much, too much Brian Williams trying to be impressive, if only in his own mind.

From the measured, deliberate and "moderate" tones struck by most of the candidates, you'd never guess what's been going on in America and on the planet for the last 6+ years. Very little sense of urgency or passion. I think they need to get out more and LISTEN to the mood of ordinary Americans. We're not even close to the primaries and too many already seem to be inside the bubble blown by handlers and groomers and consultants. No big mistakes, but a paucity of inspiration, outrage or excitement. And like Gravel said, some of their answers on things like nuking Iran were downright scary in their nonchalance.

I kept thinking, geez, by the time we get to the actual primaries, we'll be sick to death of all of them as well as the unsatisfying format of these debates-in-name-only. Maybe allowing fewer questions and longer times to answer would be helpful. Or limiting the questions to one topic. Or letting less "famous" media personalities run the show. Or encouraging back and forth between the participants. Or something.

What did you think?

(Above photo by AP)

April 26, 2007 at 10:55 PM in 2008 Presidential Primary, Democratic Party, Events | Permalink


I think you got it right. No big bads. Not much excitement. Too programmed. Loosen up people!

Posted by: JLC | Apr 27, 2007 9:08:41 AM

Funny that the TV pundits were criticizing the candidates for answers that weren't detailed when they only had such a short time to respond to Williams.

We need conversations and real debates about the issues not more of these Q and A farces. This fake debate was as bad as the sound bite ads we'll be seeing soon. All hat and no cattle.

Sad Williams didn't ask any questions about poverty or equality in the MLK theater, at a college with strong links to the civil rights movement. I guess he doesn't think those issues are as important as trying to trick the candidates into a mistake. What a dork.

Posted by: I Vote | Apr 27, 2007 9:39:36 AM

No one won.

The debate format was a joke; with eight people who (almost) never interact, it is more of a fashion show than an actual debate on the issues.

I didn't learn anything new from this debate.

But I still at my blog.

Richardson did alright, not bad but definitely not good.

Posted by: LP | Apr 27, 2007 11:27:49 AM

I agree with your view on the debate. The only thing I'm differing on is, Considering the Corporate Media picking two front runner and the hype of them, Obama lost last night, because he showed he doesn't have the experience, ideas or policy to be there. He has only great gift for gab. Hillary caried herself well, so she maintained or got a bump up. I think Richardson didn't come of well at all and Biden probably got a bump up.

I agree that Edwards was neutral, Dodd, too-or maybe he even got a bump and then Gravel and Kucinich I think definitely got a bump from their performance.

Posted by: Linda | Apr 27, 2007 12:41:58 PM

John Edwards was pro-micro-lending to counter terrorism long term. Indeed, this is a long term solution to alleviate much desperation and suffering that spawns terrorism.
Micro-lending is a radical idea that acknowledges the sin and immorality of usury.
This is why Edwards has become more and more supported by the left and the working class.
He acknowledged his privileged life-style while reminding everyone of his humble roots coming from a working class family.
His privilege is earned and he means to provide the same opportunities for achievement by other industrious clever people.

Posted by: qofdisks | Apr 28, 2007 2:12:26 AM