Some Other Views of the Democratic Presidential Debate

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lincolndouglas.jpg
Here are three views of the first Democratic Presidential Debate held in South Carolina — one by someone who watched it carefully on television, one who was on the floor of the debate and a guest of one of the contenders, and one from someone who did not watch the debate live but watched the post-debate punditry and caught excerpts.
The names will not be disclosed.
View One — TV viewer:

The bottom line is that all showed well, though I don’t think Gravel did myself. Some think Gravel stole some of Kucinich’s leftist fire.
Joe [Biden] got the most applause and general commentary with his one syllable “yes” answer.
People think Clinton and Obama both gave strong performances. My view is that Dodd was lackluster — Joe was good. Richardson both good and some how not impressive despite getting a lot right. Why is that?
What bothered me most is that they still think that the best way to respond on GWOT issues is to whack bad guys — rather than steal the audience, or develop the global economy, etc. . .
But generally this is seen as a first showing , and that probably — no opinions changed.

View Two — There in Person:

The way it looked from here, Richardson came off as something of a buffoon, Dodd was invisible, Kucinich and Gravel were an amusing but distracting component, and Edwards slipped on his response to the “moral role model” question.
I would add that I was a little taken aback when Obama said China was “not our friend”. Now that I know, I’ll stop being friendly to them immediately.

View Three — After the Fact:

I didn’t watch it but listened to commentators on Larry King and learned a lot less about what people said than from your blog — though it sounds as if it is a lousy format for 90 minutes and so many people. They probably should have limited the topics and asked everyone the same question. Bottom line is nobody won and nobody lost.
I was surprised the Kucinich, the pacifist, has a loaded gun in his house.
Also I agree with Obama that we need a larger military, but not with just that statement. I haven’t heard any candidate propose what I would do to increase the size of our military and fix its broken state. I would go back to a much larger degree to the old days and get rid of Blackwater, i.e., and have support troops as part of the military and not highly paid mercenaries. And it will take years just to re-equip military. It is badly broken.

Interesting perspectives. I have to say that in my own critique of those who just want to increase the size of the military without a true “management fix”, View Three’s comment about the problem of private militaries and displacing them with official military personnel is the best counter-point I have read to my views.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

20 comments on “Some Other Views of the Democratic Presidential Debate

  1. tom in minneapolis says:

    Kucinich did not raise his hand to say he has a loaded gun in his house – the question was, I think, “raise your hand if you’ve ever had a gun in your house in your adult life”. maybe they said “loaded”, too, I don’t recall – but it wasn’t asking if you have a gun in your house today.
    so, Kucinich may have had a gun, say, in the mid-1970’s.

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  2. Rwinymtn9@aol.com says:

    POA, I noticed that too about Obama. I have to confess, I’m one of those people who agrees with Kucinich, but have witheld my support because I know people don’t take him seriously, but he really is the only one who bothered with the fine print and had the courage of his convictions. After the debates, I’m off that fence. I’d like to get people on board supporting his bill HR 1234. It is a perfect exit strategy.
    On Pundits, I remember during the Clinton Impechment, how non-plused the press and pundits were every time some nasty bit was leaked and Clinton’s approval ratings didn’t budge. They thought we had it wrong and just didn’t get it We knew the impeachment was bogus and pasrtisan, they didn’t. Now they think this means we don’t want anymore impeachments. Wrong again. Now whatever positions they take, I know the opposite is where things really are. I think the blogospere is making puditry obsolete.

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  3. Carroll says:

    Just curious.
    Does anyone work on the hill or know anything about the handling of campaign funds?
    For instance where does Hillary or Obama keep their money? In one bank, in interest drawing account available to draw down? How do they handle this money?

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  4. Pissed Off American says:

    Kucinich: “In last night’s debate, Senator Obama revealed that he has fallen into the same trap which wrongly took us into war against Iraq: ‘But, have no doubt, Iran possessing nuclear weapons will be a major threat to us and to the region.’ And in the next breath he asserted that according to experts, Iran is developing nuclear weapons. : ‘… but they’re in the process of developing it. And I don’t think that’s disputed by any expert.’ “Where is Senator Obama’s proof for such a provocative statement?” 4/28
    http://www.kucinich.us/

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  5. karen marie says:

    i didn’t watch the debate, i didn’t watch the after-event punditrifying and other than this post, i have read zero about this debate.
    that being said, i found particularly interesting the comments by the person who had seen the debate on tv in that he/she. in addition to his/her opinion, subject A also felt compelled to speak for “some” (as in “Some think Gravel stole”…) “people” (as in “People think Clinton” …). i note that both the person present at the debate and the person who was only exposed to the punditrification only spoke of their personal view.
    the post does not indicate whether subject A also watched the punditrifying. but assuming they did, is there something in the television experience that embeds the punditrification on our feelings/sense/opinion of the debate, so that the punditrified comments cling to our brain material to such a degree that when asked our opinion we are compelled to include the punditrifiers’ opinions mixed in with our own?

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  6. Kathleen says:

    The President of the League of Women Voters in CT. said they stopped sponsoring the Presidential debates because the two major parties refused to include all the candidates who had achieved ballot status. Perhaps they should sponsor debates for the third party candidates and start a whole new trend.

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  7. daCascadian says:

    Great idea Linda and, as you suggest, therefore it isn`t likely to happen. We really do live in a circus run by junior high kids.
    “Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact….Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.” – newshog@gmail.com

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  8. David N says:

    Just finished watching the “debate” on my DVR, and thought to share my humble opinion in reaction.
    First, we can share the thought that the format of these debate is attrocious. The candidates have to fall back on pre-processed pablum and sound bites because they don’t have time to say anything else. In their defense, they also know that if they make a comprehensive, reasoned statement, it will be chopped up and have parts taken out of context. (There was a remarkable example of this right in the debate, where Obama’s statement on the Palestinians was cut up so that it sounded as if he were saying the exact opposite of what he really said, as he managed to point out.)
    That said, my run-down.
    I am surprised at the low opinion most have of Edwards. I had low expectations for him, since I think his national standing is an accidental product of his being selected for VP three years ago. However, I thought the substance of his statements was spot on. What he said about addressing the next generation of terrorists instead of just those who attack us today is in line with what I’ve been saying for the last five years or more. Anybody who agrees with me is obviously a brilliant thinker!!
    Clinton and Obama were stiff and weak. Clinton kept talking about her time in the Senate as though she has actually done anything. Obama, to his credit, is clearly uncomfortable with the sound-bite format, but it’s clear he’s been captured by the campaign advisers who’ve been screwing up Democratic campaigns for years.
    Biden did this a little, but I’d like to see much more of the candidates challenging the premises of the questions. The answers to the question on why Republicans are seen as strong on national security could have been much more bold. No one said the key word all night long: Republicans are lying!!
    Biden was both relaxed and sensible, though also homogenized.
    I was very disappointed in Richardson. He couldn’t hear Williams, which I don’t blame him for, but his statements were often confused and off the point.
    Dodd and Kucinich are not serious contenders. Where the hell did Gravel come from? Entertaining, but whacko.
    And next week, there is supposed to be a debate with the ten — TEN!!! — Republican candidates (unless Gilmore gets in, making eleven)!! Talk about a circus!!!
    One final point. I actually thought the questions were not that bad, as they did put the candidates on the spot at times. Edwards, when asked who his moral “leader” was, appeared to actually be thinking. What a concept! As we’ve all said, the problem was that there was no scope for follow-up when the candidates weaseled their answers.

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  9. Linda says:

    Much as I like my idea, it probably would never happen. I spoke with my cousin in MI who served as local chapter President of League of Women Voters. You may have noticed that they stopped sponsoring Presidential debates a few years ago. League of Women Voters wanted to set the rules and have real and meaningful debates, but candidates gave them such a hard time in negotiating rules that they wanted, that the League just bowed out. It appears that the candidates, all of both parties in one way or another, wanted to have them be either just sound bites or confrontational, as they thought that was what the voters want. And unfortunately that seems to be true, as readers of this blog are not the majority by any means.
    It doesn’t apply yet to this bunch of candidates, but it seems to happen to all of them, i.e., jockeying for rules that will favor each one’s strong points, what their consultants think would play best, etc.
    It would be nice if all the candidates would play by same rules set by an impartial nonpartisan group, especially since they are competing to succeed a President who seems to ignore all the rules.

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  10. Kathleen says:

    Linda and Sue,
    I agree that a series a real debates on each of the crucial issues, involving each of the candidates would be the most effective way to help voters make an informed choice.
    semper fubar,
    I’m with you too. I’m sending Gravel a check in hopes that it will keep us all from being bored comatose in the next non-debate.

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  11. Linda says:

    With such a long primary season ahead, there is the opportunity to have real debates that are substantive and meaningful and even involve all 8 candidates and could also be done for Republicans. Pair all the candidates one-on-one against each other in different pairings, i.e., four real debates a week. And if my math is correct, in only seven weeks, each candidate would get to debate every other one. They could be taped without an audience at mutually convenient times in DC and run on C-Span2 on the weekends or something like that.
    There is no good reason, IMHO, that we can’t use all the technology we have to do something more substantive and meaningful even with 8 people running. And I think any candidate who refused to participate would be suspect. And they could be available on streaming webcasts and also available for commercial networks to rerun them at slow times like other weekends, late night, early morning. There is no good reason why we can’t have real debates rather than sound bite ones and sound bite ads.

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  12. Linda says:

    With such a long primary season ahead, there is the opportunity to have real debates that are substantive and meaningful and even involve all 8 candidates and could also be done for Republicans. Pair all the candidates one-on-one against each other in different pairings, i.e., four real debates a week. And if my math is correct, in only seven weeks, each candidate would get to debate every other one. They could be taped without an audience at mutually convenient times in DC and run on C-Span2 on the weekends or something like that.
    There is no good reason, IMHO, that we can’t use all the technology we have to do something more substantive and meaningful even with 8 people running. And I think any candidate who refused to participate would be suspect. And they could be available on streaming webcasts and also available for commercial networks to rerun them at slow times like other weekends, late night, early morning. There is no good reason why we can’t have real debates rather than sound bite ones and sound bite ads.

    Reply

  13. Sue says:

    I totally agreed with the people on Dailykos that the format is terrible and the questions are terrible, too. This was not a real debate, it was thirty second soundbit competition and quiz show. We should have real debate one issue at a time and answer questions from real voters and follow up by expert moderators. I saw the people on book TV and Washington Post online discussions asking much better questions than these moderators.

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  14. semper fubar says:

    I just sent Gravel $100.

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  15. Jack Ballard says:

    I caught a bit of the first and the last 2 or three questions. To me Biden and Hillary looked large and in charge. I could see either one as president. Obama was clearly uncomfortable at first but appeared to finish strong. Edwards turned in his usual lackluster debate performance.
    I caught Richardsons post game interview and wasn’t impressed. I hope Kucinik stays in the race till the bitter end. He’ll make the eventual winner look main stream normal.
    Jack

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  16. JonU says:

    Though we’re being told to prefer Obama and Clinton…
    Edwards, Biden and Richardson are the most interesting candidates at this moment.

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  17. Carroll says:

    I am not voting for Hillary.
    I am not voting for Obama.
    That is the only thing I know for sure at the moment.
    Kucinich really has my heart and I think he probably has a spine of steel.
    The only thing the pundits said that interested me was that the candidates “were speaking to “their “money people”..being careful in their speech. All except Kucinich, he was talking to people..well except for the nutcases.
    I really am just sick of this whole circus, let’s just hire Prince Charles to be our new King, he is a great enviromentalist and speaks english well.

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  18. Kathleen says:

    With the exception of Kucinich and Gravel, the rest were homogenized, and bland. How could they go wrong?
    I happen to agree with Kucinich on replacing our troops with UN Peacekeepers in Iraq and have been proposing that for years.
    Gravel is rightfully indignant at the bland lack of conviction. Congress could have had more spine from day one.
    I don’t think there’s a tinker’s difference between the others. Unfortunately, Kucinich isn’t taken seriously, despite the virtue of his ideas.

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  19. Dan Kervick says:

    My proposal is that the next time one of the candidates proposes increasing the size of the military, they are asked follow-up questions like: “OK, which units? And where would they be deployed? What additional recruiting incentives would you offer? Do you know how many military bases the US currently operates? Do you think all of those bases are necessary and properly manned, or do you think some of those troops could be redeployed or reassigned? And if it is the latter, why do you think we need more troops overall?”
    Maybe the candidate would surprise us with well thought-out answers to these questions. But I suspect they are all blowing smoke, and have just blindly memorized a talking point number that Ivo Daalder or Ken Pollack or Michael O’Hanlon has fed them.
    All in all, this was a lame and uninspiring debate with all of the major candidates prefering to play it safe, zero in on Bush, and stick to the same banal script all of their brother and sister candidates are reading.
    However, I did think Joe Biden launched into a fairly interesting and unusually blunt harrangue on Iraq in his post-debate interview on MS-NBC, and refreshingly mocked the deluded Washington commitment to a democratic unity government in Baghdad.
    Every time John Edwards opens his mouth on foreign affairs, he looks and sounds like a fish out of water. He projects no confidence, conveys no strength and displays no insight. I hate to say it, but it is just hard to imagine him as a commander-in-chief. I can picture Richardson, Clinton, Obama and Biden in that role however. Even Kucinich. Although Kucinich favors a left-wing, anti-imperialist, generally pacifist foreign policy, at least it is clear he really believes in it and has a lot of very definite ideas about it. You can imagine him working hard for it, and moving decisively and aggressively, though with Sisyphean futility, to try to implement it. Edwards, I’m afraid, would have to appoint some Cheney-like number 2 to tell him what to do.

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