DECEMBER 9, 2003 – It was
obvious. Heck, it's been obvious for several debates now.
The same general questions get asked - if Koppel really didn't know
where people stood on Iraq he should be fired - while several
million useful topics get thwarted.
This debate in particular was abysmally
run. The starting twenty minutes were all about Dean and the
Gore endorsement - the first three questions Senator Kerry had to
answer were about Dean.
As you listened to them in the spin room
after the debate, each said in turn how disappointed they were that
the debate never got to more useful topics.
However, this time there was a
difference: during the debate, some people fought back.
Kucinich, Kerry, Braun, Dean, Sharpton, most candidates finally
addressed the fact that the questions sucked during the debate, not
just afterwards, for the first time.
The event was so poorly moderated that
Dean and Kerry and Sharpton didn't even get to do closing remarks,
though the others did.
All that aside, Dean gave probably his
strongest performance to date. Confident and coherent, even
cracked a couple of smiles (maybe because he wasn't being attacked
so badly.) His highlight was when he said near the end of the
debate how useless the prior hour fifteen had been, spent on useless
topics. Yes, Koppel set him up well, making him the center of
attention from the get go, but Dean wore his new endorsement well
and presented himself very well.
John Kerry had some very strong answers,
in particular (as if he was an M/I reader) when he pointed out that
"George Bush is neither a Republican or a conservative." That,
instead, he is a "radical." Right on, John. Glad someone
can point out that Bush/Limbaugh Republicans are not conservatives
or even really Republicans, they are just dishonest, greedy
assholes (yes, click there and we have a
whole article about the asshole factor.)
Edwards. Go home. Please.
In the spin room after the debate, this "charming" man showed his
true colors. When he was introduced to one of his volunteers,
he gave the briefest of, "Hi, how are you,"'s, and then immediately
spun and began seeing if anyone else was looking to interview him.
It was like a plastic movie star, not caring at all about the
"people" he spent the whole debate claiming he would stand up for,
but only about the "powerful" media that could give him coverage.
What a fake.
If I were running, whenever Sharpton
drops out of the race I would offer him a huge salary to be my press
secretary. Can you picture reporters having to face him
whenever they wanted to ask you something or try to attack you?
He would defend you well and keep them laughing, and get very
quotable points out there, such as tonight's, "From my daily talks
with God, I know he is not a registered right-wing Republican."
Blammo. That is what all the Democrats could use the next time
they are asked about gay marriage (luckily, one of the few useless
topics that wasn't brought up for the fiftieth time last night.)
Lieberman, we now love you. We
didn't, but Gore's dissing (did you hear Kerry actually use the word
"dis" tonight - go John!) especially after you held out of the race
until he made a decision out of respect, not only gave you new
respectability, but freed you of his loser shadow.
Does anyone remember that Gore also
endorsed Dukakis in 1988, saying, as reported by MSNBC's
seen a candidate who has what it takes to reach out to the
independent, mainstream Americans who will make the difference ...
particularly in the South... He’s going to send George Bush packing
and bring the Democratic Party home.”
Right, Al. Really, we trust your
judgment. You lost both times you ran and the person you
picked was a disaster. Hey, nothing against Dean, but the
endorsement is nothing the press should be gloating about. The
world's worst prognosticator chose Dean - that is a good thing?
Anyway, we love Joe now. Really,
Joe, I love you. He is essentially Bush if Bush were a moral,
honest man - okay, so he's nothing like Bush. But policywise.
Kucinich is only worthy of small type,
and only used to say, "Get off the damned stage already."
remains the only candidate that, A) knows how to talk to
viewers, not at them, and, B) has charisma.
Seriously, folks. These are
political frontmen. And only General Clark so far has shown
real charm and charisma. As each candidate gets defined by a
term (i.e. Dean=angry, Kerry=aloof, Lieberman=dull,) Clark's should
come to be (if there is any honesty in the press) charismatic, or
charming, whichever word they prefer. He is dominant but
humble, knowledgeable but not at all pedantic, sweet yet strong.
Not one other candidate can say he is
charming. Edwards thinks he is but he is a fake (as we saw in
the spin room.) Kerry should be but he's too introspective.
Dean just plain isn't. Gephardt... well, on stage, he seems
like he might be, but get near him offstage afterwards and his is
pure wood. Nice, smart, passionate, but too needy is his tone.
The closest to Clark is Mosley Braun, with regard to charm.
Gosh, her and the General as a ticket, it would be a charm fest (but
obviously not a compellingly experience loaded ticket.)
Listen, people, we apologize for the
media not knowing how to run debates, and we promise we would do
better with them if we had the chance. For instance, the first
question we would ask is one that should be the first any candidate
should have to answer, and none has yet - only President Bush, and
we think his answer stinks.
The question every candidate needs to
answer is: what was the lesson of 9/11? George W. Bush
constantly chides his detractors as not having learned "the lesson
of 9/11." To him, the lesson was, as Lieberman echoed tonight,
that we need to "kill off the terrorists." That is what Bush
states as the lesson, that we were not killing enough people.
We now just had our 24th joint
appearance of the Democratic hopefuls. Can you tell me what
your candidate of choice believes is the lesson of 9/11? (If
somehow you think you can you can
e-mail it to me.) We addressed this topic in this
article several months ago.
Everyone keeps talking about how the candidates lack a defined,
coherent message. Each candidate owes it to America to answer
this question. Not what would they do now in response to 9/11,
but what lesson do they think America should have learned from this
horrific day, and what actions should we take or change as a result?
How could we have had 8 or 9 debates per candidate and not have had
this most basic, obvious question asked yet?
because the non-M/I media blows.
So let them hash over 0 for 2 Gore's
endorsement, over polls and cash raised. We put forth to all
of the campaigns, what does your candidate believe to be the lesson
The lesson of 12/9 is clearly that
there were at least five men who were on that stage tonight who
would make fine Presidents, but not one who would make even a
halfway decent debate moderator.