Thursday, April 26, 2007

Debatable [Updated]

[Posted by reader_iam]

Funny, hearing Tom Brokaw talk to Keith Olbermann about how Jack Valenti, who it has just been announced has died, was a symbol of a lost age of civility. I don't think Brokaw--himself a civil man--was aware of the irony, in context.

Although, wouldn't it be great if he was?


Q: "Is this war lost?"



Hillary: "...advocating a number of years ... " (She was talking about drawing down the troops in Iraq and establishing benchmarks for the war and the Iraqis.)

Me: What number is that, exactly???


I'm watching these debates partly out of a specific interest in hearing what Bill Richardson has to say. He seems subdued to me and even his hair seems buttoned down. I'm just a little surprised by this. Well, the "debate" is young.


Mike Gravel's voice reminds me strongly of that of a television character, which I can't quite identify yet. Blake Carrington (played by John Forsythe), maybe?


I'm not trying to ignore Barack Obama. He's just not standing out in any particular way, so far.


Oh, for Pete's sake--Edwards' hair is brought up in a question to him. Eh, don't know that I want to carry on after that. The answer, by the way, includes references to health care, the minimum wage, and just about all of Edwards' other standard statements.


Funny that it's Dennis Kucinich who comes out with the statement, "We're not choosing American Idol here." Unfortunate.


HELL HAS FROZEN OVER! Joe Biden gives a one-word answer!

("Yes," in response to being asked whether he can reassure the world that he has the self-control to be president, given his reputation as a "gaffe machine.") [Added: I'm curious if that was the single biggest-rehearsed response in his pre-debate prep. I mean, for him that had to require serious practice.]


Damn, Gravel goes after the other candidates, especially the "top-tier ones." Well, and also Joe Biden. My mind wanders off-topic, trying to picture him talking to other world leaders that way, should he become leader of the free world. Much more fun!


Biden won't have a litmus test for potential Supreme Court nominees. But he'd make sure people he nominated shares his values. And that they understand that's there's a right to privacy in the constitution. Etc.

Kucinich believes in care.


I'm getting a little alarmed: Chris Dodd is beginning to look good to me, by comparison. Maybe a little break is in order.


"Show of hands" question: How many in your adult life have had a gun in your house? Five of the eight have--Biden, Gravel, Kucinich and I missed the other two due to an interruption, but I think Richardson was one of them. Biden, in the next question, specifies "shotgun." Does the answer to this question matter to you? For my part, the [added for clarity: candidate's] answer[s] to this bothers me a whole lot less than the fact that the VA Tech shooting had been brought up in context of whether it changed any of the candidates' views on guns.


Obama: "I think the confederate flag should be put in a museum, where it belongs." Me, too.


Short-answer questions, only one-sentence answers allowed (not to exceed 20 seconds). But the first question--a compound one--itself begs for a multi-sentence answer! Short reaction: DUMB.

Gravel describes himself as the senior statesman, but he's beginning to feel like a "potted plant." Who IS this loon? [Added: That was rhetorical. I know who Gravel is.]

Bill Richardson has mastered the art of the semi-colon, the em-dash and the colon in speech. Punctuationally speaking, he nails it. Is that symbolic of something deeper?


Non-Iraq foreign policy: I'm a little unimpressed that, given the way Obama framed his answer to his question, he failed to mention also Pakistan and, most especially, India.

Biden gets points, from me anyway, for mentioning Putin and the fact that there have been some quite ominous developments in Russia which could have far-reaching effects.

Gravel says we have no enemies in the world, or something like that. A potted plant, indeed!

Richardson started out all right, but then pulled out a crap line about America not caring about Africa. Sigh. That ought to have been beneath him. It matters to me that it wasn't.


Two U.S. cities are attacked tonight, and we know for sure it's Al Qaeda. How would that affect our military stance overseas? Obama wants to review our security system, since we showed we didn't after Katrina. Edwards wants to react swiftly against the perpetrators, and to assign various blames. Hillary says she thinks presidents should act as swiftly as it is prudent to react and strike at those who attacked us (assuming we can identify them), but shouldn't go looking for other fights in other countries. That's pretty much my stance, so of course her answer works for me.


Richardson's stance on Cuba, and the fact that we should be working now on a policy post-Castro, is dead on.

Obama did a good job of describing the difficulty of the Iran situation; he thinks it'd be a grave mistake to go to war with Iran (I think he means now, specifically), but he also acknowledges the danger that the country poses, to us and the world, and that it is the largest state sponsor of terrorists/terrorist groups. He thinks we should talk to it, but be aware of the danger.

Edwards, I think, is the first candidate tonight to invoke the name of God and talk of daily prayer. Come to think of it, this has been a remarkably Godtalk-free political event, which I personally think is a very good thing, indeed.


Reactions from you all?

Added post-debate: I know I missed a bunch here; one of those nights where I couldn't put all my focus on the debate. Feel free to correct/expand.

I disagree with the take on Hillary Clinton, but otherwise I think the observations of Hit & Run's David Weigel are pretty much on target. He hits the ball out of the park with his quip on the love shown to Mike Gravel over on MyDD (though I think it's more the commenters than the post, itself). Mike Gravel is "a pissed-off FDR"? That's "different," indeed. The commenter who says Gravel should be given Imus' spot may be on to something, however. He probably WOULD be good on radio--"shock jock" is certainly a decent symbol of the way he approached this debate tonight.

Second add, post-debate: I nominate for the award of most thorough and engaging real-time debate-blogging post (though I gather it was posted after the fact, not as-you-go; perhaps I should adopt that approach****see note*****) this one by Tigerhawk, at least among the relatively few blogs I've had a chance to peruse so far. (Hat tip, Memeorandum. Your nominations are welcome.

Third add, post-debate: ***I was wrong about that, I think. That makes my nomination that much more strong. And may I point out to Instapundit that I, too, ran against the tide with regard to Gravel? Even used the same word.

As to the "Goodness Gracious, Great Balls O' Gravel!" meme**** (can I trademark that, please?), I just heard a report on CNN--didn't catch the correspondent, but Anderson Cooper is anchoring--in which Gravel was named the "hands'-down" winner of the debate.

What more is there to say?

Update: ****See visual (+) here.

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