I was about to give the YouTubers credit for keeping the conversation serious, and then the second half of the debate happened. Of course I think CNN gets most of the blame for this. Maybe the entertainment factor is a good thing for political junkies who are close to getting burned out with all these debates. I Loved the snowman video as well as the one with the folks from TN, and the singing tax guy.
Quick takes on the candidates:
Hillary Clinton continues to impress. Who’s going to stop her from getting to the finish line? Not any of these guys. She was asked about whether she considers herself a liberal. Of course not. She’s a progressive just like all the other Democratic proponents of expanding government.
Barack Obama ok, but not spectacular. Had a few good answers. Maybe it’s unfair to compare him to Hillary. Made a strong defense of his approach (more affordable coverage) to health care vs. John Edwards’ approach(mandating coverage).
John Edwards Hair looked good as always. Nice tie. Got more than enough time to talk about his signature issues. Would have loved to hear him go into more detail on his statement in Cleveland regarding a national fund to help people in danger of losing their homes.
Biden one of the many truth to power candidates on Iraq. I don’t mean that he is right about everything he says. Just that he seems to have a more realistic take on the aftermath of Iraq than most of the other candidates. He also had a few great lines…which I will get to shortly.
Richardson didn’t make any major gaffes (that I noticed anyway)
Dodd, Kucinich, and Gravel- The problem that all these second to fourth tier guys have is that all the niche groups are taken by the top 5. That is, except for the rabidly anti-war group. Kucinich is a true believer. You have to credit him for that. The problem is that, despite what all the polling seems to be telling us, this is not where the country is on the Iraq war and on pre-emptive war in general. Both Kucinich and Gravel kept the debate from getting too serious, but the format of this debate would have made that impossible anyway.
This debate is more about entertaining the public then informing them on the issues. Buried in the zany videos there have been some serious questions that, as always have only gotten sound-bite type answers. Kucinich wants us to text for peace. Yup. I think that it would be more useful to text Kucinich himself and tell him that his time is up as a candidate.
A guy with a really dangerous-looking weapon asked about gun control. This was one of the most interesting parts of the debate, unless you wanted to hear a serious answer on it. I’m not sure what this guy was expecting to hear, but he just doesn’t look like he would vote Democrat anyway. There were some reasonable answers, like Richardson’s. He supports instant background checks. Then Biden actually insulted the guy with the dangerous gun. Is this really wise? Biden supported the Assault Weapons Ban. That’s not something that will please the gun owners.
If you were panning for comedy gold, this debate had it, and then some. Some “average American” asks the candidates to say something positive and negative about the candidate to their left. Edwards jokes about Hill’s pink jacket. Well, at least he’s saying what most of the rest of America is thinking. Obama disagrees with Edwards on the jacket. Most of the frontrunners throw velvet-gloved punches at each other and generally accomplished nothing of any value.
Joe Biden’s a joke-a-minute. Biden I can think of nothing good to say about Dennis Kucinich. Haha. He then says that the best thing about Kucinich is his wife. Pretty good line…but Dennis Kucinich and Anderson Cooper combined on a brilliant exchange. Pardon me if I paraphrase a little bit. Kucinich mentions that there’s no one standing to the left of him. Anderson Cooper says it’s not possible to find anybody to the left of Kucinich. Good one.
So what did we learn from this experimental political debate? It’s not a shining example of the average American voter, as some have suggested. At least I hope not. The questions were original, but if the candidates stick to their pre-programmed scripts, the viewer is no better off then he/she was before this debate. It was entertaining, so the format deserves credit for holding my interest. Nothing changed as far as my opinions about the candidates. I can’t wait to see what the Republican candidates will do with their questions. That said, all this means nothing right now, because there will be 12 million more debates until we actually get to cast a vote.