26 April, 2007

Democratic Primary Debate Reaction

Tonight, April 26, 2006 was the first debate among the Democratic candidates for President. Here's a run down of their performances in one writer's opinion:

Mike Gravel: The former Alaskan Senator who has been out of public office since 1981 (that's 8 years before I was even born) provided some of the wildest entertainment of the night. I felt he unfairly received very few questions, but he was a spectacle when he answered the questions he was offered. I felt Gravel offered observers something that most of the other candidates couldn't offer: candid opinions on current issues he hasn't had to campaign on for more than two decades. His outright belittling of the leading candidates drew laughter from everyone and offered an unexpected element of comedy to the event.

Hillary Clinton: The former First Lady did nothing to debunk the image of Mrs. Establishment that I have of her. Her long drawn responses were only trumped in length by her on-stage neighbor, Barack Obama. She routinely attacked the Bush administration and even referenced the "Clinton administration" (oddly, not "my husband's administration" or something a bit friendlier) a few times as a point of comparison. Ironically, when moderator Brian Williams asked her to react to the fact that she has been voted the most unlikable candidate, or some other unpleasant label like that, she did little to improve her image. As long as the funds keep flowing in, Hillary will be around for quite a while, despite what this writer thought (and thinks) of her.

Dennis Kucinich: This man has got a lot of good things to say, too bad he received near Gravelian (yep, I said it) amounts of questions thrown his way. This lack of questioning often lead him to resort to answering already asked questions despite the question currently being presented to him. Kucinich does not appear physically bold, but he's got a fightin' spirit. In response to "one mistake you have made" was "When I was Mayor of Cleveland, I fired the Police Chief live on the 6 o'clock news" (a nice change of pace from the rest of candidates answering "getting duped by the Bush Administration about Iraq). His other highlight had to be defending his calls to impeach VP Dick Cheney by pulling out a pocket Constitution, which he claims Cheney has no regard for, and holding it at eye level for the entirety of his answer.

Chris Dodd: The "Meh" award was easily captured by Chris Dodd at tonight's debate. The most intriguing thing Dodd presented was the vast color difference between his hair (snowy valley white) and his eyebrows (dark chocolately brown). He also didn't have too many questions to answer, but failed to have any moments that have stuck with me less than 4 hours after the debate ended.

Barack Obama: Recent BU visitor, Barack Obama, may have spoken the most of all candidates at the debate, not only because he received a lot of questions but because his responses often required an intermission because of their length (I will be attempting to watch Lawrence of Arabia [216 minutes] during his responses at the next debate). I felt Obama invoked too many of his accomplishments during responses rather than getting to the core of the questions he was supposed to be answering. I am still very interested in what Barack Obama has to offer but it'll take a little more campaign trail wear and tear before I can get a real feel for this candidate.

Joe Biden: Long ago, I was behind Joe Biden in '08. He hasn't done nearly enough as the other leading candidates to be a realistic possibility, not to mention him calling Obama "clean" and "articulate" as part of his own candidacy announcement. I like Biden's tough delivery on the issues and his air of defiance (displayed when talking about voting against the Roberts and Alito confirmations). But that approach doesn't work on the presidential level (as the Bush administration has demonstrated. I think Biden's best bet is to remain in the Senate as a top notch Senator from the glorious land of Delaware. He has to be given credit for writing his own comedy though, when he simply answered "Yes" to Brian Williams question along the lines of "Do you think your reputation as being boisterous and verbose in many circumstances is accurate?"

Bill Richardson: The Governor of New Mexico has a lot going for him in the credentials department. He is very much a western Democrat as well and expressed his moderation through many of his responses. I felt Richardson doesn't have the charisma it's going to take to win in this incredibly competitive election and his moderation probably won't get him through the primary stages. Brian Williams also pointed out that Richardson is the NRA's favorite candidate, in either party. Oh boy...

John Edwards: Alright, so I did save my favorite for last, despite my "in no particular order" label at the top of this post. I thought John Edwards did the best at answering the questions that were asked of him without being too long winded or bragging of his accomplishments that may or may not be tangentially related to the question content. Edwards offered real solutions for proposals like universal health care and climate change. His responses were not scripted and he was clearly thinking of the answers as he went along. Anyone with a soft spot has to give him credit for citing his wife as one of his three moral role models. Nice job Johnny.