Monday, July 23, 2007

Some Musings on the Youtube Debate

CNN held a debate tonight in which viewers submitted questions via Youtube. Of course, CNN got to choose which questions were asked, but still, it was revolutionary... or so CNN tells us.

My favorite point of this two-hour debate came right at the end. There was a ridiculously naïve question posed asking each candidate to say something good and something bad about the candidate to his or her left (it was naïve because Gravel was the only one to actually criticize the candidate to his left). The ever-classy turned to Dennis Kucinich and said, “the thing I like best about you is your wife.”

And I see why.

And she's British! I can’t explain how he wound up with her. Maybe they got stoned and spun into each other at the latest Phil Lesh concert.

On to some specific thoughts on each of the candidates. Mike Gravel. I'm torn about Gravel. He has some legitimate points, and he isn't afraid to speak his mind, but he's really wasting our time. He seems to spend all of his time complaining about how little time he gets. Granted, this is a legitimate point. As Chris Dodd's "Talk Clock" shows, Gravel got the least amount of time in this debate:

And in an earlier June debate:

So, Gravel has a point, but shouldn't he be spending his time making other points besides how little time he gets? This sort of attitude antagonizes the moderator, as could be told when Anderson Cooper was much more willing to let other candidates speak past his call of "time."

To defend Gravel for a second: saying that soldiers in Vietnam died and that soldiers in Iraq are dying in vain is not un-American. Saying that they died in vain is not a criticism of the soldiers; it is a criticism of the policy. It isn't saying "You soldiers failed." It is saying "Your leaders failed." If someone thinks that a war is not worth fighting, then any soldier dying in that war is dying in vain. But, it doesn't sound nice.

Chris Dodd. I wouldn't say Dodd hurt himself (after all, he's been hurting pretty badly as it is), but he didn't help himself either. From waffling on gay marriage (not providing a sincere reason for refusing to go beyond civil unions) to simply sounding like a lecturing old man (approaching Gravel-esque, even), Dodd simply did not seem strong.

John Edwards. I thought it was funny that Edwards said that he did not like Hillary Clinton's jacket. Overall, I think he performed okay. Just okay. He seemed awfully caught off-guard on the gay marriage issue, but his response did sound sincere, unlike Dodd's. He said, rather convincingly, that he has personally wrestled with the issue, but that his religion should not dictate American law. Fair enough. He needs to drop the "son of a mill worker" thing. We heard it in 2004, and it obviously didn't work. It seems unbelievably phony these days. However, he did have a very good "Youtube-style" campaign video (every campaign had to provide such a video):

Hillary Clinton. As front-runner, Hillary generally played it safe, and tried to downplay differences between the candidates, calling the Democrats "united" (sparking a "We are not united!" from Mike Gravel), and saying that any of the candidates would make a great President. However, she still managed to impress me. I think she is getting a lot better at not seeming stone-cold. She spoke with force tonight, but seemed human and passionate. Policy-wise, there was some waffling, like her refusal to say that she would meet with Hugo Chavez, Fidel Castro, Kim Jong Il, and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. When Obama said that he would meet with them as President, Clinton basically said that she would not meet with them without appropriate planning. Well, yeah. Appropriate planning was assumed! But, I am beginning to change my feelings about Hillary. I think she would make a great President.

Barack Obama. I think it's going to be extremely difficult for Obama to gain ground on Clinton without attacking her - besides stressing that he was against the war from the beginning, that is. I don't think saying that he has always been against the war is going to do much these days. It may help him slightly, but people want to move forward, and he will have to show why his Iraq strategy is better than Clinton's. He had some good attacks on special interests (as did Edwards and others, for that matter), but that is not truly setting him apart. I think he's going to have to try to sell himself as a "Washington outsider," to turn his inexperience into a good thing.

Bill Richardson. Richardson is the so-called "resume candidate." He has had an amazing career in American and international politics, but he simply does not have the ability to really connect with TV viewers. He seems uncomfortable in front of a camera, which is a real shame, because he has some great ideas (e.g. sacking No Child Left Behind) and would make a great President.

Joe Biden. I think ol' Joe actually helped himself this time around. I think his humor actually struck a chord this time instead of just making him sound like a sleazeball. And he came across as an authority on foreign affairs (particularly Iraq). Still, he has no chance of breaking out of the bottom tier.

Dennis Kucinich. He sounded like he as hosting an infomercial. It was obnoxious. He kept repeating, "Text peace, 73223" throughout the debate. Apparently these text messages will be sent to President Bush and this will bring the boys back home.



DrFrankLives said...

Is she wearing a collar around her neck? What is that thing?

Fz said...

Yes, because Dennis Kucinich is her owner and master.

That's just creepy.