May 05, 2003
Reflections on the First Democratic Presidential Debate
Just watched the first presidential debate among the Democratic Party challengers. A pretty interesting affair all told, although the candidates all have their blandness...
I missed the beginning which I think featured some Kerry vs. Dean scrap, but caught most of the action (or at least I believe I did, I've avoided reading much about it as I want to write down my reactions before comparing them to others).
No strong winners or losers other then Kucinich who was already a loser, so he doesn't count. I think the closest thing to a winner was Gephardt and Kerry was the closest to a loser. In terms of Washington insiders with legitimate chances at the nomination, Gephardt really seems like the pick. Of all the candidates he simply looked and acted the most presidential. Had a sort of golden glow to him, real comfortable on TV acting like a leader.
Kerry on the other hand looks like the leader of a failed opposition party. He's one ugly ass prick, he doesn't stand much of a chance against Bush. He's straight out of central casting as the loser in this election movie, way too skinny and wrinkled. Still don't like Gephardt much, but I'm a lot more comfortable with him as a nominee then I had been. Add in the fact that he's from the South/Mid West and much more down to earth then Kerry and I think he's a much better candidate. Have a feeling Kerry's front runner status is about to disappear quickly. On the flip side though, Gephardt also looks strangely like Al Gore, but without any of that cold robot quality. Actually he looks sort of like a cross between Gore and Bush, really strange.
Edwards and Dean are the wild cards. Edwards really needs to step up a level, he's just not reaching his potential. Needs to gain a few pounds for the camera for one. There were a couple points when he started talking about his childhood where his empathy really started to show through. He's got some of that Clinton "I care for you, and can solve your problems" magic in him. But he needs to be pumping it out non-stop if we wants to be a contender. Its just not flowing consistently yet. He also looks really young.
Dean is a strange one. He needs some serious training in front of the camera, he's got to be looking the audience in the eye. His straight talking rep didn't manifest itself. Nothing about him really rose him above the rest of the pack, with one exception. He has perfected the psychological trick of getting the audience to view him as president. He talks like he's already nominated or even in the White House, dropping references to the "Dean administration". I've seen it in some of his writing too. Good stuff, straight out of the hypnosis handbook. The Republicans are good at that sort of manipulation, lets hope the Dems can get it down too.
Graham is a joke, he looks like a picture perfect corrupt fat cat insider. Sure he could win Florida, but he'd lose half the states Gore won. His hyper hawk position makes him completely irrelevant anyway, no way will he win a democratic nomination. There was one segment where all the candidates could ask one question to one other candidate, almost all where directed to Graham. The reason? Because everyone knows he's not a threat but he looks more serious then the other joke candidates, so he was the perfect way to not give extra TV time to competitors.
As for the jokes, anyone have any idea where Lieberman got it into his head that a short, ugly, ultra right wing, orthodox Jew could ever become the Democratic nominee for president? I have news for him, he can't.
At least Sharpton and Moseley-Braun know they don't have a chance. I've been a Sharpton fan ever since I saw him speak when he ran for NY mayor. He's probably the best speaker I've ever seen. He's running because he has an agenda he wants to push and I'm all for it. If he keeps attacking Bush and then pushing his issues, he can only help the Democrats and America's cities. He had a great line about Bush's tax cuts. "Its like getting Kool-Aid from Jim Jones, it might taste sweet, but it'll kill you". He'll never get the nomination, but there are definitely some strange scenarios where he'd actually be the best nominee, he's the only one who really seems to have the skill to lyrically devastate the Bush agenda and show the world just how bad it is.
Like Sharpton, Moseley-Braun also has an agenda, but sadly the agenda is to advance herself. Actually there is a bit more, I think she's out to rescue the image of black women from the horror of Condoleezza Rice. And that's fine by me. She's damn a damn smart women, and I think its a good thing for the Dems to have someone like her in the race. As long as she doesn't attack the other candidates its good to have a black women running, at least at this stage of the campaign. Hopefully she'll resign at the right time. She's putting herself in a good position for a cabinet post, smart woman, I respect that.
That brings us to the bottom of pile, Kucinich the loser. I had no idea before today that Cleveland went bankrupt while he was mayor. And now that I do I don't ever want to here a thing about him. How in the world can you even try and run after that sort of fiasco? You better have done something mighty impressive to make up for it, and Kucinich sure hasn't. On top of that he looks and acts exactly like a rat, I could practically smell rodent through the TV. He represents some far left ideals that really should be represented in the race, but all he can do is make those ideas look worse. He's exactly the wrong person to be representing anything, and he really needs to get out of the race.
Final thoughts? If John Edwards can step up and start running a strong campaign then I think he's the best candidate out there. He has capability to be a truly charismatic leader. But its really unclear if he can live up to his potential. If he can't I think Gephardt and Dean are the two best picks. Its still unclear if either of them really have what it takes though. Kerry is clearly overrated, and due in for a crash soon, I hope. He maybe could win if Bush keeps destroying the economy at record pace, but when it comes to insider power players Gephardt is a better candidate. All in all there is a bit of hope showing through in this debate, but not much. Its early still...Posted by Abe at May 5, 2003 12:41 AM