Animadversions.

The weblog of Joshua Drescher

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Democratic Debate #2

June 4th, 2007 · No Comments · Politics

Let me start by saying that I dug CNN’s format for the initial portion of the debate. Candidates weren’t time-limited, but if they ever attempted to go off-topic (for example, by trying to respond to an earlier question or comment), they were cut off and the next candidate was called on. This seems vastly preferable to the “30 seconds, then the light goes off” method - especially for groups this large.

Speaking of large groups, why is Chris Dodd still on stage? He’s pure milquetoast - dull and utterly uninspired. He’s not in the “second tier” of VP hopefuls. He’s not even a rabble rouser of any kind.

Kucinich and Gravel obviously know they have no shot at nomination, vice-presidential nods or even cabinet appointments, but it’s clear that they are there to agitate and attempt to act as the “Jiminy Cricket” voices for the Left - a role currently filled far more effectively on the Right by Ron Paul. I think every debate should feature at least one no-chance malcontent whose sole intention is to trip up the front-running sloganauts.

Richardson didn’t hurt himself last night, but he still lacks any sense of charisma or authority. At this point, he should just be angling for VP (one of the other candidates actually mentioned sending Richardson around as a good will ambassador once they get elected - I can’t recall who at the moment).

I continue to seriously like Biden. He stays on-message. He’s ferocious in a way that doesn’t come across as crazy. It feels like he’s actually saying what he thinks, rather than trying to twist and maneuver around hard or awkward questions. Last night made me like him even more. I’d love to see him break into the top tier, but I imagine he’ll wind up relegated to being a potential VP.

As for the Big Three, I think I hate all of them now. They’re so nearly identical that discussing positions or platforms is effectively pointless. Their weirdest moments spring - almost exclusively - from efforts to make their similarities seem less significant (”I would call anyone making $250,000 a year ‘rich.’” “Well, *I* would call anyone making $200,000 a year ‘rich!’”).

Clinton is CLEARLY the most effective candidate so far and last night solidified that. Though she’s grating and has the cackling laugh of a creature straight from Grimm’s Fairy Tales, she has an air of authority and confidence that is - understandably - resonating well with voters.

Obama is floundering in these events. Any time he tries to be authoritative, it comes across as pomposity. I think he may actually be too young to be aggressive and hostile without seeming like a total douche-nozzle. It works for Clinton and Biden, but fails utterly for Obama.

Edwards had the night’s strongest and weakest moments.

Strongest:

His admission that authorizing military force after 9/11 was a mistake. It set him apart from Clinton, who continues to waffle strangely in an effort to be both right to have supported funding and in NO WAY responsible for having done so.

Weakest:

Saying the first thing he’d do as President would be to leave the country and tour the world to make everybody love us again. An utterly ASTONISHING fumble.

I would rate last night’s performance from best to worst as follows:

Biden/Clinton (tie)
Richardson
Edwards
Obama
Gravel
Kucinich
Dodd

At this point, I’m basically hoping against hope for a last-minute Gore candidacy, as I simply can’t see anyone from the current field beating Hillary now.

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