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Thursday, April 26, 2007

LIVE BLOG!

8:35 - Final Standings and then I'm out:

1. Chris Dodd (Quality answers to everything; proved his experience)
2. John Edwards (Smart, tempered answers to everything)
3. Hillary Clinton (Strong answers, but started and closed poorly)
4. Joe Biden (Came on VERY strong in the second half)
5. Dennis Kucinich (Nice ideas, nice delivery...still looks like a gnome)
6. Barack Obama (Maybe not bad, but did not meet expectations)
7. Bill Richardson (Boring, verbose, not charismatic. Tough night.)
8. Mike Gravel (He made his point. He drops out in May.)

8:29 - Annnnd scene. Thanks for reading! Final Standings coming right up, though I'd love to see your guys thoughts on the comments page.

8:29 - Love Biden's answer on if the Dems have a winner. Sadly, he is not one of them.

8:27 - Hillary's voice is raising! Careful, Hillary! Everyone is reaching for their volume control.

8:26 - Edwards stumped by the moral beacon question, and in all fairness, it's a very tough question with no right answer.

8:25 - Obama and Kucinich could put on a terrific debate. Someone make this happen.

8:22 - Brian Williams is funny.

8:21 - Say what you want about Gravel, but you know you're leaning forward when Williams asks him a question.

8:19 - We could time Richardson with a calendar. Get to the point, man!

8:16 - Everyone, take cover! Kucinich has a prop!

8:15 - The first part of Hillary's answer on retaliation was a disaster. She said she would respond quickly, but only after listing several time-consuming qualifiers first. Not a good job there.

8:13 - Edwards: "We have more tools available to us than bombs." Quote it. You'll read it. Love it.

8:11 - Why is Obama boring me? Very un-Obamalike. Experienced does not have to be synonymous with dull.

8:08 - I love the question about Democrats supposedly not being able to protect the American people. It was right in Dodd's wheelhouse. And Dodd just retroactively, brilliantly, and seamlessly answered the "great American threat" question. Great job. Back in the lead.

8:06 - Richardon's answers have more lists than the AFI. He's incredibly wordy and rambling. Brian Williams has had to cut him off multiple times. And ultimately, he doesn't look happy to be there. Not a good showing from the governor.

8:04 - Gravel: "Who are you afraid of, Brian? I'm not."

8:03 - Biden dubs Russia the third biggest threat to the United States! Oh boy. Cold War: Part II. Someone get Sylvester Stallone on this. We might need another Rocky. I'm pretty sure Dolph Lundgren's available.

8:01 - Obama doing a good job in the foreign policy response. He doesn't sound inexperienced, and that's important.

7:59 - Name the first thing you want to accomplish on the first day. "Richardson: get us out of Iraq." In the first day? "And reduce carbon emissions?" WOW.

7:57 - Updated standings: 1. Clinton; 2. Edwards; 3. Dodd; 4. Biden; 5. Kucinich; 6. Obama; 7. Richardson; 8. Homer Simpson; 9. Gravel. The last two are included because they make me laugh.

7:55:15 - Education time over?

7:55 - Education time! Listen up, fellow teachers!

7:53 - Checking the different stats on tonight's blog...shattering all sorts of PPFA records. Thanks to everyone who's reading.

7:52 - One of Hillary's biggest mistakes: "Believing the President." WOW. She should have paused on that one. That could have been huge.

7:50 - Did MSNBC get a degree in secondary education? I love the staggered format. Keep the candidates on their toes and the viewers interested.

7:48 - Clinton matches Edwards' answer. Clinton and Edwards pass Dodd, but Dodd still has to speak in this round.

7:46 - Obama is doing okay. He's doing fine. The problem is, he's supposed to be GREAT. I think he'd do much better in a 1 on 1 debate, but right now, he's thoroughly unimpressive. If he doesn't turn it around, look for a dip in poll numbers.

7:45 - Edwards does a GREAT job with his allusion to substance over style on issues. I think that resonated with the Democrats watching at home.

7:43 - Hand raise question: Great idea, but ultimately irrelevant.

7:42 - Richardson's cross-party appeal won't do him an ounce of good in the primary. "A person with a mental illness cannot get a gun." Wow. The limb bends.

7:40 - Hillary's first mention of Bill. I had 7:31 in my office pool.

7:39 - I love the Supreme Court question. More rapid fire!!

7:38 - Dodd back up...and extends his lead. Might be in the Top 5 by the end of the night.

7:36 - Kucinich is a great liberal, but if you take his Precious, he might murder you.

7:34 - Obama is tightly holding onto the "outside politician with new bipartisan ideas" mantle. Relax Barack, Mike Gravel isn't going anywhere with your mantle.

7:32 - Edwards just achieved a perfect primary debate objective: He stressed the importance of a Democrat to win while making himself seem like the Democrat a mainstream liberal should vote for.

7:30 - Current rankings after two rounds: 1. Dodd; 2. Clinton; 3. Edwards. Honorable mention to Mike Gravel for getting the country to pay attention to him for at least a minute.

7:29 - Okay, Gravel is officially stealing the show! Newman wants to be a part of the cast!

7:29 - Mike Gravel sounds like a know-it-all grandfather who knows very little.

7:28 - Legitimately funny moment with Biden and a one-word answer. No, that won't provide an ounce of help in his anemic poll numbers. Still. Funny.

7:25 - Dodd doing a great job tonight. It sounds like he's improvising his answers and it's all truth. His experience is his greatest strength but also his greatest weakness.

7:23 - Senator Clinton's got the pearls and earrings. Here comes the Marge Simpson vote! Oh, was she talking?

7:21 - Edwards saying he was born in South Carolina does more to garner South Carolinian votes than anything else that will be said tonight. His childhood story, though probably genuine, probably bored 95% of the country.

7:18 - The "elephants in the room" questions? I can't imagine Fox would match this with the GOP. And why should they? They're fair and balanced.

7:16 - Comment from sptmck on Kucinich: "Love the guy, but he looks like one of the borg." Couldn't agree more. Resistance is futile!

7:14 - Great quote from Dodd, explaining that our toils in Iraq are a "sign of weakness, not a sign of strength."

7:12 - Bill Richardson has always had difficulty talking in laymen's terms. That is his greatest barrier to making the Big Three the Big Four.

7:11 - Glad to see Dennis Kucinich could make it from out from underneath the bridge. Hopefully the billy goats were a satiating meal.

7:09 - First point goes to Clinton. She takes a shot at the President and says, if President she will get us out. You're going to read the quote over and over. Clear as crystal.

7:06 - Joe Biden's specifics about Iraq please me. His experience just came through in spades. And when it comes to experience, he and Dodd are like turtles among fruit flies.

7:05 - Paraphrased Hillary: "It's up to Iraq to decide whether we'll stay in Iraq." Yikes.

7:03 - Does anyone see Bill Richardson right now? The guy looks like he just saw that Chris Dodd isn't wearing any pants.

7:02 - I'm not gonna lie, John Edwards looks GREAT. I wonder how much money he spends on a haircut...

7:01 - All right, let's do this!

6:57 - Will you ever get tired of seeing Dan Quayle footage? I won't.

6:48 - Welcome to Presidential Politics for America's live coverage of the first debate between the Democratic candidates for President. I was going to write a preview to the debate in the lead-in hour, but MSNBC seems determined to milk this event for all its worth. What is it - sweeps week? I haven't seen Chris Matthews so excited since discussing the political ramifications of George Allen's macaca. And of course Keith Olberman's gotta be pumped about being surrounded by Democrats. It's like he just went on a jihad and here are his 72 virgins. The only problem for Olberman, of course, is that a Democratic debate is nearly an impossible venue to integrate a pun about our President's inadequacies. I haven't seen a fish this out of water since Alyssa Milano was on celebrity Jeopardy.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Candidate ‘08



Wouldn’t it be funny if the candidates who are raising so much money ended up buying themselves out of business?

It could happen. They will have so much money for media campaigns that by this time next year, citizens will be sick of them — their harping on old issues, their trashing each other, their unified failure to come up with specific plans for America’s many problems. Even the most ardent liberal has got to get tired of listening to Hillary Clinton hedge, fudge, dodge, and duck and even the most idiotic conservative has got to realize that the war in Iraq isn’t all that different from abortion.

As candidates with too much money battle candidates with too much money, the inevitable media bombardment will backfire. By primary time, people will be turning away from it all. The faces in political ads will elicit expletives. The vague promises will wear thin. Voters will see candidates the same way children see the last of the Halloween candy — as something once desired but now enough to make carrot sticks look good.

So the question is, who are the carrot sticks who will come riding dark horses out of the woodwork next spring? Just as a mixed metaphor is a welcome relief from the drip-drip-drip of irrefutable logic, so will be the messages of saviors on the right and left. Someone on the left will present a workable universal healthcare program. Someone on the right will overturn our misguided militarism and focus it again on defense.

Maybe it will be someone who can tell — and take — a joke. Maybe it will be a Democrat who says, “Yeah, I’ve smoked pot. We can talk about that or we can talk about Republicans and the oil industry.” Maybe it will be a Republican who says, “No, as a matter of fact, my kids haven’t joined the army. Would you like to know why?”

Maybe it won’t be a Democrat or a Republican. Or a Green or a Libertarian. My bet: It will be something to the effect of a Bull Moose — somebody with guts and a few good ideas in a one-man party untainted by preformed opinions. It will be…and I hate to use this word because we’re all going to get sick of it soon…a leader.

If there’s any hope for this country, it’s that leadership can still trump campaign funds. I’m not sure it can, but if it can’t, we are doomed to a government run by fundraisers. American will be a drifting ship whose resplendent captain is wooing widows in the ballroom as the end of the cruise draws nigh.

As we follow the horserace of the standard candidates, we should watch for the emergence of real leaders. Their qualifications will be evident in the honesty and comprehensiveness of their platforms, not in their relentless presence on TV. While the standards hedge, fudge, dodge, and duck the diversions (abortion, the pledge, terrorism, sex) the leaders will grapple with what everyone knows are the real issues: energy, federal debt, health, our daily bread, our trespasses, and a world that hates us.

The best we can hope of the standard candidates is that they’re lying to us, that behind their smokescreens and equivocation they have ideas, courage, and benevolent agendas that they’re afraid to reveal. For all the millions spent trying to communicate non-messages, concerned citizens will listening for what’s not being said, the truth between the lines.

If any real leaders emerge, they aren’t likely to have hundreds of millions of dollars to spread their message. They won’t have a spare dime for boloney. They won’t be able to waste a media moment promising suckers a better tomorrow, a brighter dawn, a later twilight, more junk in every garage. They will have to speak their piece and be quick about it. They’ll have to stand on their platforms, not on a barrage of glitzy soaring eagles, flags flapping in slow motion, and chins uplifted to the sound of French horns and harmonicas.

If America ever gets to see a brighter dawn and a better tomorrow, that will be the moment when the future starts — when Americans turn away from the candy corn and see the beauty of a carrot stick standing tall.
(Editor's Note: Today's guest blog is from my father, GC. I really had to twist his arm to write one for me, but he finally did. I am honored to post his contribution. If you like it, and I'm almost sure you will, go ahead and take a look at his website. Reminder: I am doing a LIVE BLOG on Thursday evening during the Democratic debate. Be sure to check in frequently throughout the event.)
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