Monday, June 4, 2007

Grading the Debaters

Well, I for one appreciated the debaters' refusal to fall into the Wolf Blitzer traps. Wherever possible, he tried to get them to beat up on each other or make blanket statements about invented scenarios, and for the most part, they refused.
Biden: A. He was fiery in a good way, and even where I don't agree with him, he was knowledgeable and convincing.
Clinton: A. A solid performance, somewhat professorial--no surprises, but the new focus seems to be on the GOP, not the other Dems, which is very smart.
Dodd: B-. He answered the questions, unlike some others, but had little flair.
Edwards: A. He came out swinging, which worked to a point, but he was actually better on areas other than Iraq. Still the best speaker of the bunch.
Gravel: C-. Too cantankerous by far. As Mark would say, "Too much truth???" I don't entirely disagree with his assessment of the other candidates, whom he despises, but I think he's borderline nuts.
Kucinich: A-.He was very well-spoken and much less loony than in some other appearances. But does anyone believe that this guy can rid the world of nukes?
Obama: B+. He scored points against Edwards, but as is often the case, his responses were vague and general rather than bold and specific.
Richardson: D+. He never answered a question directly, but always fell back on his stump speech. He gives a wonderful speech but appears unable to think on his feet. It's a shame, really--coming out of the February DNC meeting, he impressed me most.


Anonymous said...

If you haven't yet read the front page article on HC's lamentable record on Iraq in yesterday's Times magazine, I urge you to do so. It really amounts to an expose, and it helps to explain why she has chosen not to participate in an upcoming Democratic debate on the war, opting instead for a forum sponsored by religious leaders. The chronicle of her ill-advised blunders, rhetorical obfuscations and opportunistic maneuvers is more appalling than I had realized. Three disclosures were especially shocking: 1) Although she has repeatedly asserted that her vote to authorize the war in Iraq was "the hardest decision" she has ever had to make, she made it without bothering to read a 90-page intelligence briefing that cast grave doubt on all of the Bush administration's justifications for the invasion. This puts me in mind of the student who arrives for an exam without having studied and then criticizes the rigor of the questions. 2) In the days leading up to the Iraq invasion vote, HC (unlike all of her fellow Democrats) actually maintained that there was evidence of ties between Sadam and Al Quida--even many of the Republican senators who voted for the war resolution shied away from this spurious claim. 3) Three years after voting to initiate the disastrous war (still no apology), HC, in a peremptoy gesture, rose out of turn on the Senate floor to claim "co-sponsorship" for a withdrawal resolution that she had nothing to do with--all for the transparent purpose of political gain. If she is the Democratic nominee, please put me down for the Socialist Worker Party candidate.
I missed last night's debate, but DZ tells me that Hilary failed to answer any of the questions, turning each into an opportunity for a canned response. This fills me with wild surmise about the high grade of that you assigned to her performance. Really! Political cynicism is one thing, but overlooking Hilary's complete disregard for standards of honesty and accountability is quite another.

KAZ said...

I disagree with DZ that she failed to answer the questions. I thought her responses were intelligent and well-formulated, if unsurprising. I graded not on whether I agreed with people but on how they performed orally. Otherwise, Kucinich would never have gotten an A-.

I am not particularly in love with any of the candidates. Edwards's focus on "the great divide" resonates with me, but there's also quite a bit of evidence that he is a cynical profiteer. Obama believes his own hype and is out to prove he can raise more money than HRC, which I don't see as a good or useful goal. His book has substance, but he has yet to respond to any question with anything other than fluffy "can't we all just love one another" crap. Richardson is a good governor with a horrible reputation as a swinish womanizer. Kucinich was a terrible mayor and councilman who went on to be a lamebrained Congressman and candidate. Gravel is right most of the time about what ails the country, but is too nuts to run for dogcatcher. Biden's smart, if you like right-of-center plagiarists. And Dodd has preschool children, which is just wrong. Put them all together, and Hillary starts to look like a reasonable choice.

Anonymous said...

I fail to see how Obama's desire to raise campaign funds, Richardson's womanizing (remember husband Bill), Dodd's admirable libido, or even Biden's veracity descends to the level of the opportunism, disingenuousness and gall that HC displays. I've heard people say that any Democrat will better than Bush, and of course this is true. But the fact is that he has done so much damage at home and abroad that a self-styled centerist like HC couldn't possibly undo the damage in ten years, let alone four. How many promises would she have to make to conservative groups in order to be elected. In my view, the only corrective to a deranged reactionary like Bush is a strong, forthright liberal--not a watered down Democrat like HC. And, for what it's worth, I have never heard her answer a question honestly--beginning with her replies to the oft repeated query about whether she regrets her vote to authorize the war.

Mary Ann said...

KAZ, your reactions to the debate are incredibly similar to mine, except that I thought Richardson did okay - particularly on immigration. Maybe you were disappointed 'cause you've been interested in him for longer than I have and you were expecting more. If I were limited to one comment it would have to be about the amazing support most of them expressed for each other with just enough sniping to give it a note of reality. I thought Clinton was amazing in "leading" the tone and direction of the discussion (and you know I'm not that much of a Clinton fan.) There wasn't much substance to any of it - it was all about style. And I admit I'm still hooked on Obama's "fluffy 'can't we all just love one another' crap.

Anonymous said...

I would just want it on the record somewhere that I played the accoridon at a Kucinich fundraiser last time around when he came to Honolulu. (Hawaii gave its Democratic caucus votes that year to Kerry & Kucinich -- -- I think 9 & 4?)