The Democrats have a showdown @ The Citadel
Last night, the current field of 10 Democratic Presidential hopefuls took the stage at the Citadel in South Carolina. It was hosted by the team of CNN and the popular web site, YouTube. The co-hosts promised a revolutionary debate that included questions directly from voters...well, voters with a webcam, cameraphone (theoretically, tho i saw no "videophoned questions") or some digital video capability.
the coverage was 100% better than CNN's last effort. Many of the voter questions were thoughtful and well done. And for the most part, there weren't too many blatant dodges from the questions. A few were on the sillier side, and most of the candidates played along well. The pre-debate hype promised a "revolutionary" debate. Was it? Well, no. But it was really good.
1st off, Anderson Cooper, who is usually a slow drip of feigned emotion, outdid fellow anchor Wolf Blitzer. That was a surprise. Cooper kept control for the most part and didn't overshadow the questioners. As far as how the "experts" saw the actual debate and the "winners and losers," it would depend on who's post debate coverage you watched.
If you watched CNN's own coverage, they seemed to give the highest marks to Senator Clinton. They also spoke well of Joe Biden and Bill Richardson's performance. John Edwards also got some points for his passion, namely on helth care. If you flipped over to Fox, they saw Barack Obama as the winner and also gave some nods to Senator Biden. They really didn't want to talk about Edwards. And since it was Hillary's arch nemisis, Dick Morris joining the Fox team, Hillary was trashed on Fox. But that is to be expected.
Also, one of the more interesting tidbits were the 30 second "Youtube" style commercials each candidate made to be presented here. It seemed each candidate had a different take on what the assignment entailed. Some had fun, others were more serious. Some made ads that looked like they were made professionally. Others took a more "home-made" approach. More on that in a seperate article, but for now, we'll get back to the debate...
As far as how the individual performances went, here's how I saw it...
Hillary Clinton --- Hillary came prepared and botoxed up....And again, had a great performance. Not perfect, but showed why she was the front runner and why she is the one to beat...which looks harder after each face-off. She had a little trouble with some questions about being "the establishment" but since the evening didn't focus on that, unless you were Dick Morris, it didn't matter much. One of her best moments came when she pointed out that it "was nice" to be debating who would be better for women "for a change" instead of who will be worse.
Barack Obama --- Also had a good night. Unfortunately, got shown up by Senator Clinton in a question about negotiating with our enemies. Obama made 1 great point in saying that our not talking to our enemies is not necessarily the "punishment" we think it is. then he proceeded to jump too fast in saying he would guarantee those negotiations, missing the "prudent" 1st steps pointed out by Clinton and parrotted by Edwards. But Barack's overall message of a change in the way Politics are approached was his central front. And that front held strong.
John Edwards --- Might have had the best YouTube video ad, and also showed his passionate stripes in an RFKesque moment on healthcare where he excited the crowd as well. Some took exception to his quip about Hillary's coat. I thought it was funny, and a perfect, lighthearted response to the question asked (something you like and something you dislike about the "candidate to your left" on the stage).
Joe Biden --- On substance, both CNN's focus groups and hosts as well as the crew and groups being run by pollster Frank Luntz for Fox gave Biden some of the best marks of the night. And he deserved it. Joe's quips about the gun-nut that sent in his very pro-NRA question might have lost him a few points, but not many.
Bill Richardson --- Gov. Richardson is quickly becoming the "candidate that people would like to have a beer (or beverage of your choice) with." And like Biden's substance, he deserves this accolade. And Bill spent the evening living up to that monicker promising everything to everyone. I really like Bill Richardson, and think he'll find a great home in a democratic administration should his party win. But the dirty lil secret in this campaign is that the only way to pay for all of his generosity is a serious tax hike, and not just on the rich.
Dennis Kucinich --- As expected, and as the staging strongly suggested, Dennis spent the night on the left of everyone. Like Richardson, I really like Kucinich as a person. He's a good guy. Unfortunately, like his counterparts on the extremes of the right-wing, many of his ideas require Utopian societies to work...and in case anyone forgot, we don't live in Utopia, we live in America. But I like hearing from Kucinich as he articulates a far left viewpoint better than most, and his "no-strings" approach keeps him speaking truth to power, regardless of where that power sits politically or partisanly. And like Joe Biden pointed out...his wife is a looker.
Christopher Dodd --- Dodd has gotten stronger in each successive debate. He also had a really good Youtube ad. But he did tend to get overshadowed in the crowded field. But while one part of the night pointed out that he was about the same age as some other candidates, despite his "grandfatherly white hair" another focused on his 2 kids, which are 5 and 2 years old. All that made me do was start doing the math on where his wife's age might be. Not that I have any negative feelings about that, but just out of curiosity. At the end of the debate, they showed Dodd and one of his children in a loving embrace, which was really nice and human. It did look like his grandchild tho, lol.
Mike Gravel --- What can ya say about Gravel? well, he's still no Al Sharpton. Whether or not that's good or bad, is yet to be determined,lol.