Debate Postmortem

I watched my first Presidential Debate of the season straight through tonight, and I remembered why I don't watch these this early - they are basically stupid.

That said, let me give my take on it, because I watched it, and darn it, I am going to tell you what I think, whether you like it or not. First, from my point of view, it was a good night for putting pressure on the Congress to end the war, through the use of the Not Spending power. It was the early focus of the debate and Edwards pounded on Clinton and Obama on showing leadership in Congress on ending the war through use of the Not Spending power. It was the highlight of the debate.

Frank Rich must be pleased to see Senator Joe Biden adopt his veto proof majority line, but not so pleased when he said it ain't gonna happen. I think the Rich line on Republicans ending the Debacle is basically DOA, and that is a good thing. Because now we can focus on the one way that the Debacle can be ended, by use of the Reid-Feingold-Dodd framework. I hope and believe this will be a continuing theme of the campaign.

Now, if you care about how the horserace aspect, you should realize that by the time the votes are cast early next year, NO ONE will remember this debate in the slightest. It will have ZERO effect on the election.

That said, I think that Blitzer's early insistence on making the debate a 3 way contest between the frontrunners was extremely unfair. It was just a joke from Blitzer. That said, the fact is the three top candidates took advantage of the opportunity Blitzer gave them.

Edwards was the best in the first half. Clinton was good in defense and Obama was a bit choppy in the first half. Edwards scored some points early on Iraq and was sharp on most every question he was offered. Clinton's explanation on her war vote is simply not credible and she will struggle with it throughout. Obama has done an amazing thing in my estimation, he has allowed himself to be tarred as timid on Iraq when he actually opposed the war from the start. It is a startling bit of bad politics by him. He is now grouped with Senator Clinton on the issue, a remarkable thing.

Interestingly, I thought once he sat down for the second part of the debate, Obama improved immensely. Smoother, sharper and quick. Clinton was solid as always and really nailed the "most important thing in the first hundred days question" - saying ending the Iraq Debacle would be her primary focus. Obama had good moments on Iran, imo, and using Dennis "Department of Peace" Kucinich as his foil. I thought Edwards blew the last question by NOT hammering on Iraq.

Biden was shouting all night but had his moments.

Richardson was, as he always is in my opinion, just awful. I think he is one of the worst public speakers I have ever seen.

My man Chris Dodd got no chance in this debate because of Wolf Blitzer. Just unfair.

Gravel and Kucinich are not my cup of tea at all so I will just issue a no comment on their performances.

< Sopranos Final Season: Episode 85, "The Blue Comet" | Hillary Attacks Condi Rice and Cheney >
  • The Online Magazine with Liberal coverage of crime-related political and injustice news

  • Contribute To TalkLeft

  • Display: Sort:
    Wolf (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by proudleftists on Sun Jun 03, 2007 at 09:30:29 PM EST
    Mr Blitzer was quite awful as the moderator.

    sigh....... (4.75 / 4) (#1)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sun Jun 03, 2007 at 09:01:31 PM EST
    I am going to tell you what I think, whether you like it or not.

    Heh (5.00 / 2) (#2)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Jun 03, 2007 at 09:06:47 PM EST
    So Wrong (none / 0) (#21)
    by talex on Mon Jun 04, 2007 at 12:15:02 PM EST
    I think the Rich line on Republicans ending the Debacle is basically DOA, and that is a good thing. Because now we can focus on the one way that the Debacle can be ended, by use of the Reid-Feingold-Dodd framework

    For someone who claims they want the war to end that could be the most short-sighted statement I have ever heard. But it is also he most self-centered.

    Rational people don't really care how the war ends as long as it ends. They are open to all avenues to end the war. Irrational people only want it to end the way they want it to end so they can 'be right'. That is not what I would call supporting the troops. It really is an absurd and selfish statement.

    Now, if you care about how the horserace aspect, you should realize that by the time the votes are cast early next year, NO ONE will remember this debate in the slightest. It will have ZERO effect on the election.

    Again - Wrong. Elections are about impressions formed of the candidates over a period of time. If these impressions were not proven to be accumulative the candidates would not spend the time and money to travel the country or run early ads or appear on TV talk shows etc.

    The run-up to an election is just a marketing campaign. And like any product that, for example, you see on TV it is rare that you remember 'specific' ads but over time you form a definite opinion of that product be it positive, negative, or indifferent.

    So to say any exposure, in this case a debate, will have zero effect on an election is to not understand the dynamics of an election or any marketing campaign.

    One more thing. A debate is a rare and unique event in the election/marketing cycle. It is the only venue where the public gets to see the candidates on TV answering questions and interfacing with each other. So in that way it helps form unique opinions which are based on the unique dynamics that debates offer. When you have all the candidates 'come into your home' in one night for 90-120 minutes it is indeed  memorable and unique experience that forms definite impressions that affect how you end up voting months down the line.


    I missed the beginning (none / 0) (#3)
    by Maryb2004 on Sun Jun 03, 2007 at 09:15:15 PM EST
    so I don't have a total picture of the night.

    On one hand it didn't make me want to vote for any one of them particularly. On the other hand, I was impressed in general with what a strong field it is (excluding Gravel and Kucinich, neither of whom I take seriously).

    Much better than the 10 person debates of the last election where none of the candidates were very impressive.

    I'd give the night to Clinton.

    Same here (none / 0) (#11)
    by Jeralyn on Sun Jun 03, 2007 at 10:58:52 PM EST
    I was trying to think which one of them I could envision as President a year and a half from now, and she seemed the most experienced, confident and presidential.  It's not so much her stand on issues I like (she's far more centrist than I am and not great on criminal justice issues so far) but I do believe she's knowledgeable and decisive and has a sense of justice.

    Richardson seemed out of his league. He acted like a middle manager campaigning for Governor.  And at the end, when they asked what he'd make his top priority, he said education for children instead of ending the war or health care.  He'd be good as a VP  candidate though, and I'd support a ticket with him in that spot.

    Joe Biden was his angry old self.  He is the embodiment of insider politics.

    Chris Dodd just isn't my cup of tea.  He's not presidential and like Biden, he's too engrained as a Senator.

    Obama failed to impress.  He didn't take much of a stand or challenge the others.  As Arianna said on CNN afterwards, he acted like he's the frontrunner and can be the conciliator and he just isn't.  He's got a long way to go.

    I like Edwards.  A lot. But his new move towards the left has me struggling with whether it's for real or to grab votes from the left. He was so more centrist in 2004, and as a Senator, and I worry that he'll revert if elected.

    Hillary is Hillary. We know what we're getting. And so far, while I haven't decided definitely, she's the best bet.  And yes, I do believe she can win the general election.  And we get Bill back if she gets elected.


    You and I are picky (none / 0) (#12)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Jun 03, 2007 at 11:12:30 PM EST
    about our tea . . . Heh.

    Honeslty, as you can see from my post, I am not even thinking seriously about this race yet.

    My main observations are on how this all effects the Iraq debate.


    Edwards going to the left (none / 0) (#14)
    by pioneer111 on Sun Jun 03, 2007 at 11:28:50 PM EST
    Is this genuine?  This diary at Dkos is one of the better ones explaining Edwards journey.  You might find it helpful JRE's Journey: Edwards Goes Left Also david mizner wrote John Edwards and the New Populism.  These may answer some questions.  His move to the left isn't as new as people say when you look at his long term record.  Also in some ways his so-called left is the mainstream of what used to be middle class America.  Anyway just a good resource if you are interested.

    Thanks (none / 0) (#19)
    by Jeralyn on Mon Jun 04, 2007 at 09:35:39 AM EST
    I like Edwards a lot.  I hope it is genuine.  

    I was surprised by how (none / 0) (#15)
    by Maryb2004 on Sun Jun 03, 2007 at 11:51:57 PM EST
    much I liked Hillary.  

    I'm not wild about the idea of a Hillary candidacy for a few reasons.  She's far more centrist than I am.  But there's more. There's something in me that rebels at the idea of another Clinton. For 20 years we will have had a Bush followed by a Clinton followed by a Bush. I'd like a different family.  The other reason is that I live in a conservative state that absolutely hates Hillary beyond reason and I just can't begin to imagine the dirt that will fly if she's the candidate.  

    But, I liked her tonight.  There was a moment in the second half, and I can't even remember what the question was, when all the candidates were talking at once trying to be heard and she won.  She talked through the cacaphony and ended up being the spokesperson. And she did it without looking too hard or losing any poise.   Since I spend so much of my time as the only woman in conference rooms filled with men who believe that the way to make your point is to talk louder than everyone else ... I can appreciate the skill she showed. And at that moment I could imagine her representing us at a G-8 summit.

    Obama didn't impress me at all and seemed to lose energy as the night went on.  Especially when they were sitting.  The difference between his unengaged body language and Hillary's was striking when they were sitting next to each other. He didn't challenge the others, I didn't see leadership.

    Edwards I liked.  I'm not too worried that he's faking liberal and will go to the center.  If he does, he does.  But that just puts him where Hillary starts. So I'd take that risk.

    The rest - I agree with your assessments for the most part.


    I mostly agree with what you say (none / 0) (#16)
    by andgarden on Mon Jun 04, 2007 at 12:24:23 AM EST
    about Hillary. I pretty much tuned in just as she was objecting to the "raise your hands" question. I also liked that she was so willing to link herself to the Clinton administration. (obviously a double-edged sword). Overall, I still don't have a favorite, but I think she'll actually do well in a debate with Republicans.

    Disagree with you about Edwards though--I think he's a political chameleon.


    I worry that he'll revert if elected (none / 0) (#17)
    by dkmich on Mon Jun 04, 2007 at 04:32:00 AM EST
    Revert to what?  Hillary?  I wish HRC wasn't a Clinton or Queen of the DLC.  If she was running as the "liberal" she is suppose to be, I would vote for her in a shot.  However, she isn't; and I won't.  Edwards is the only one talking the talk.  He, at least, knows where he should be.  

    Oh goody - we get Bill back (none / 0) (#23)
    by annefrank on Mon Jun 04, 2007 at 03:44:27 PM EST
    I can hardly wait to see the media airing clips of his impeachment 24/7.
    Amazing that progressives have griped about corporate and media influence on the Bush admin - and then support a Dem in bed with them!
    John Edwards has moved FARRRR AWAY from the DC-DLC corporati$t centri$t crowd while Hillary is still a big part of it and Obama is now joining in. A look at their donors & donations should be sufficient explanation.
    News Corp's HUGE fundraisers for Hillary should be a CURRENT Big Red Flag. But,  we can't trust Edwards because - well - he MIGHT revert to centrist.

    Saw the second half (none / 0) (#5)
    by andgarden on Sun Jun 03, 2007 at 09:38:31 PM EST
    Hillary gave an impressive performance but was given too much time to give it. Obama seemed to be in orbit for some reason.

    I tried to watch.... (none / 0) (#6)
    by kdog on Sun Jun 03, 2007 at 10:02:55 PM EST
    but, as BTD said, when the big 3 money-raisers got all the attention, I had had enough.  At least for the 10 minutes I could stand watching it. They just don't interest me or give me hope for the future of govt. in this country.  I would have liked to have heard a word from Kucinich, but I guess he's so used to being ignored he's got no spunk to make them listen.

    I flipped to crab trapping on the Discovery Channel....now that was interesting and informative.

    Crab fishing OT (none / 0) (#8)
    by Gabriel Malor on Sun Jun 03, 2007 at 10:23:29 PM EST
    I discovered "Deadliest Catch" last week when they were running a marathon and now I'm hooked. Who knew they could make crab fishing so interesting?

    Matthews or Wolfie? (none / 0) (#7)
    by LonewackoDotCom on Sun Jun 03, 2007 at 10:16:55 PM EST
    Seriously now: which of the two did a greater disservice to democracy?

    These people are trying to become the president of the U.S., and all those two hacks did was ask them puffball questions instead of asking them questions that would have revealed the huge gaping flaws in their arguments.

    If you're a Dem or GOP partisan that's a great thing. But, hopefully people can rise above that and demand real debates.

    My kids saved me.... (none / 0) (#9)
    by jerry on Sun Jun 03, 2007 at 10:37:07 PM EST
    I watched my first Presidential Debate of the season straight through tonight, and I remembered why I don't watch these this early - they are basically stupid.

    Regretfully, I was forced to miss the debate when my kids decided I had to take them to the opening of a new city waterpark.  Four hours later and the 3rd grader using the high dive and the second grader going down the 200' twisting turning water slide all by herself, well, all I can say, is that was taxpayer money VERY VERY well spent in building that new city water park.  It was basically resort level water park play for $5.00 per person.

    But regretfully, I was unable to spend the time indoor watching the debate.

    My kids for the win!

    I'm crossing off Hillary (none / 0) (#10)
    by Lora on Sun Jun 03, 2007 at 10:47:18 PM EST
    Because, as BTD said, she is not credible in her explanation of her war vote.  She "trusted" Bush?  Gimme a break.  She thought he'd let the inspectors do their job?  I didn't think he'd let the inspectors do their job.  Come on, Hillary, when did you first mention those inspectors after the war began?  

    BTW, I enjoyed Gravell!  He's not presidential material, imo, but he let the smug ones have it.

    Lora (none / 0) (#20)
    by Jeralyn on Mon Jun 04, 2007 at 09:38:05 AM EST
    Are you going to vote for any Democrat?  Aren't you a Republican?

    Nooooo..... (none / 0) (#22)
    by Lora on Mon Jun 04, 2007 at 03:28:18 PM EST
    I'm probably a lot farther left than you are, Jeralyn.

    Jeralyn (none / 0) (#24)
    by Lora on Mon Jun 04, 2007 at 06:17:21 PM EST
    I'm confused.  Why do you think I'm a Repub?  I don't remember saying anything flattering about them; au contraire.  I'd appreciate your reasons.

    Richardson (none / 0) (#13)
    by typhoonsarah on Sun Jun 03, 2007 at 11:19:35 PM EST
    Richardson is actually a decent speaker.  It unfortunately didn't really show tonight, but watching other interviews, imho he appears quite knowledgeable and personable.  


    Besides, you have to be a good talker to talk to people like Saddam Hussein and Kim Jong Il.

    Considering all the stuff he's actually done (sec. of energy, UN ambassador, governor), he'll have much better ideas on how to get stuff done as president, unlike Edwards and Obama who have basically done nothing, and Clinton who married into politics and has done much of her work in an unofficial capacity.

    You pretty much nailed it A (none / 0) (#18)
    by bronte17 on Mon Jun 04, 2007 at 09:33:01 AM EST