Thursday, April 26, 2007

The Democrats Debate

Of course, having eight people on stage with only two hours to debate, much of which is taken up by the questions themselves, is not the best way to get any real impressions of the candidates. On the other hand, some things came out and are worthy of being pointed out. Let’s look at the candidates:

Mike Gravel: the crazy old uncle of the field – at times fun, but a waste of time. He managed to make Dennis Kucinich seem moderate. He’s something of a loon.

Dennis Kucinich: right more often than he was wrong, his function in this race is to put pressure on the others, has health care right and, like Gravel, lumps everyone else together on Iraq, which helps Hillary. His general foreign policy approach is hopelessly naive.

Chris Dodd – showed some guts on the drug testing question. Gave a wonderful answer on gay marriage, then chickened out by saying he was against it, although in favor of civil unions.

Bill Richardson – It isn’t good in a Democratic primary to be referred to as the NRA’s favorite candidate. His favorite Supreme Court Justice – Whizzer White...Whizzer White??? A man who was opposed to Roe v. Wade? Horrible speaker, bad impression – may have seriously damaged his VP chances. He has no Presidential chance at all.

Joe Biden – Had the best, and shortest, answer of the night. Sounded intelligent, well-informed, and clearly someone who could be helped by the night. Let’s see if the polls move.

John Edwards – Came across as smart and articulate, gave a good answer on his Iraq vote, yet didn’t seem sharp enough. Bungled the “hedge funds making America better” question, looking like a defender of them and the very rich who deal in them. He sounded like someone who asks the right questions, which, frankly, is what I like best about him. Not sure whether his pointing people to his web site worked, but reminding people that depth and solutions are necessary was good. Great answer on moral leader question at the end, which may have been the thing that saved the night for him.

Barack Obama – I’m going to disagree with a number of pundits – I think he did very well. Seemed authoritative, correcting a bad quotation from Brian Williams made him look tough, generally good on his feet. I thought his answer about Asia was good. His bringing up the Terri Schaivo vote as a regret was a bold move and one I greatly respected. One failing was his answer to Williams’ “Al Qaeda strikes” question. Later he took on Kucinich and looked really tough.

Hillary Clinton – Judged by most as the winner and I won’t debate that, although I hated the giant pearls. She had a good answer on keeping US safe, less good on health care, not good on Iraq. Won the night with the best answer on “if we were attacked”, by immediately responding with strike back. Seemed very comfortable with herself, as did Obama.

Best Answer: Clinton on “Al Qaeda attacks”

Most Memorable Answer: Joe Biden’s one word response to “are you too verbose?”

Most Thoughtful Answer: Edwards’ moral leader answer. May have been more helpful than anything he had said in the previous 80 minutes.

Worst Answer: Several by Richardson, who seemed way out of his depth.

Most Surprising Moment: Seeing Dennis Kucinich’s wife, Elizabeth. He got a tall, hot, redhead with a British accent. Not sure how he did it, but damn, he got the respect of a lot of men across America. If he can get that babe, maybe he can end the war and solve the health care problem.

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