Learned some things tonight. First, this sort of light and quick format, with no attempt to have every candidate answer every question, with a strong host cutting off the candidates, is a good way to run things, particularly if you have so many contenders for time.
Most presidential presentation: I was surprised that Hillary carried herself so well. She seemed . . . mature and not willing to say just anything to win the debate. Richardson, who I'm biased towards, next. Obama was not bad, although he wandered off during the allies question.
Most hurt by a question: John Edwards looked like he took a blow from the question about his $400 haircut. I like the fact that Edwards will concede just about anything bad about himself -- here, that he has a privileged lifestyle. But, it was a punishing question and immediately brought to mind the youtube video of him combing his hair to the sounds of "I feel pretty".
Biggest mistake: Obama rambling on about Nato and not naming Israel as one of our best allies. Given his name and the rumors about his upbringing, that was a softball he could have hammered, and didn't.
Next biggest mistake. Edwards, who seemed left out for a long period of time, was asked who his moral leader was. He looked up for a long time, and then listed god and everyone in his family as his guiding lights. Should have said Martin Luther King or Abraham Lincoln or Teddy Roosevelt -- I don't care. Why was his first answer -- his Lord -- less strange or cloying than when Bush said Jesus was his favorite philosopher? These guys should be ready for that question after seeing Dukakis and Bush handle it poorly in past years.
Worst job: Mike Gravel. Just being old and surly doesn't get the job done. You got the feeling that he would have been calling Ralph Nader a right wing nut, if he were on the stage with him.
Best answer: The verbose Joe Biden, being asked if he could assure Americans that he was not a human gaffe maching, said "Yes" and shut up. I suspect he was ready for that one.
Best tactic: Kucinic, by being the odd man out whenever raised hands were called for, drew questions from Brian Williams, the host.
Biggest dud: That's Dodd. Nothing personal, but he has zero electricity. He looks the part, but doesn't walk or talk it.
Most passionate: Kucinic. He has vision. Not one I, or I think most Americans share, but vision. I think he believes it's a nicer world than it is. Gravel is too surly to win that one, although he obviously has passion too.
Biggest lesson for me: I will not likely vote for any of them if they don't convince me that they recognize the threat of Iran and global terrorism. Giuliani just got ripped for saying the Democrats would put us back on defensive. I don't want to vote for Giuliani (see my earlier posting on why not) but boy, he sure seemed right tonight. However much Iraq has blown up in our face, doesn't mean we should pack the armed forces in crates.
Biggest disappointment: Richardson. I still like him, but I was disappointed by his call for a conference on Iraq including Iran and Syria. I have no problem talking with them, but I would not include them in any group with us where some concensus is required. He also shows himself more liberal than I would like, but then again, McCain, my favorite on the right, has leaned too far that way for my tastes too. They understand that you have to win the nomination first before you win the election. We hate that, but it is a fact of life.
Best point.: Biden. He is right that Iraq should have been divided up into three parts. I have felt that way since 2004. The Kurds deserve it. If the Sunnis and Shias want a country, they should prove it.
Biggest kiss ass: Also Biden. Kissed Hillary's ass once, and Bill's another time.
Best and only prop: Dennis Kucinic holding up a pocket Constitution published by the Cato Institute. I carry a copy around too sometimes. Pretty sure I never whipped it out in an argument.
Biggest plus: Brian Williams makes up a little for his horrible interview of Ahmadinejad this past year. Good job.
Who should find other things to do? Gravel, immediately. Dodd, definitely. Biden, did not do bad, but still doesn't have a shot. Kucinic, of course, but he is entertaining. He's this year's Sharpton. Richardson, really needed to impress here, and did not. However, I still like him for VP nominee. Biden seems to be aiming for that post under Clinton -- but two Northeastern Senators on a ticket? I don't think so, if they want any shot in the rest of the country outside of the two coasts. Richardson can hang in a while, but his play for the top spot dimmed even more tonight. Edwards showed little, I thought fared poorly, but he has enough standing to hang in their with the two big dogs also, at least for a little while.
Besides, I'd like to know how many people watched this anyway.
- I started this blog in September, 2006. Mostly, it is where I can talk about things that interest me, which I otherwise don't get to do all that much, about some remarkable people who should not be forgotten, philosophy and theories (like Don Foster's on who wrote A Visit From St. Nicholas and my own on whether Santa is mostly derived from a Norse god) and analysis of issues that concern me. Often it is about books. I try to quote accurately and to say when I am paraphrasing (more and more). Sometimes I blow the first name of even very famous people, often entertainers. I'm much better at history, but once in a while I see I have written something I later learned was not true. Sometimes I fix them, sometimes not. My worst mistake was writing that Beethoven went blind, when he actually went deaf. Feel free to point out an error. I either leave in the mistake, or, if I clean it up, the comment pointing it out. From time to time I do clean up grammar in old posts as, over time I have become more conventional in my grammar, and I very often write these when I am falling asleep and just make dumb mistakes. It be nice to have an editor, but . . . .