A Quick, Extremely Late Democratic Debate Review

This week-end, I finally forced myself to watch the first Democratic debate. I was putting it off because I expected it to be punishingly dull — and my expectations were met. Here are some quick thoughts about the debate…

#1) I seldom praise MSNBC for anything, but I have to give them credit for putting a lot of good, tough questions to the candidates. If they were expecting this to be a softball heavy debate, they were sadly disappointed.

#2) That doesn’t mean MSNBC handled everything well though. I thought they spent way too much time focused on the front runners and didn’t spend enough time tossing questions out to the second tier candidates. Why have a debate this early if you’re not going to give the lesser known candidates much of a chance to talk?

#3) The winner of the debate? I would say it was Dennis Kucinich, which is ironic, because he has absolutely no chance to win the election. Yet and still, Kucinich came across as well spoken and more principled than most of the other candidates.

#4) The only candidate who didn’t put everyone to sleep was Mike Gravel, an entertaining crank who was reminiscent of Perot in his more addled moments during the 1992 campaign.

#5) It occurred to me while watching the monotonous answers from each candidate that one of the side effects of the “YouTube era” is going to be extremely tightly controlled, scripted answers to every question (even moreso than in the past) because the candidates are all going to be terrified of saying that one spontaneous thing that will end up being seen over and over, millions of times between now and 2008. That’s unfortunate because as politics is getting more entertaining and accessible to the average person via blogs, Youtube, and talk radio, the politicians are going to be getting duller and phonier than ever.

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