. . . Sunday February 29, 2004

Elvis Has Returned to the Building

Those who woke up at the ungodly hour of 8:00 a.m. on the West Coast were probably quite disappointed with the latest iteration of the traveling Democratic Debate Show. Pretty much everyone performed badly, especially the debate organizers and questioners who had no format, silly questions and continually interrupted candidates when they were answering direct questions and the let them ramble when they were not. Aristide had a better morning than these folks.

Dan Rather opened with a question about faith and religion which required the candidates to complete the phrase: “This I believe.” The debate concluded with the candidates being asked if god is on America’s side (Edwards: America should be on god’s side. Sharpton: God is on America’s side but not on George Bush’s side. Kerry: I couldn’t quite figure his answer out, but I agreed. Kucinich: God wants universal healthcare and an end to NAFTA and the WTO.). I felt like I was watching a debate in the Islamic Republic of Somewhere. If the wars and hatreds stirring up around the world and in our backyard aren’t enough of a warning that religion should be kept out of the political decision-making process, then you’d at least think the title of “Reverend” Al Sharpton would do the trick.

Again, there was no logical reason for Dennis or Al to be in the mix. Sharpton, on his home turf, was aggressive and both he and Kucinich repeatedly interrupted the other candidates. During one exchange, Dennis interrupted to come to Senator Edwards’ defense (that could mark the unofficial end to Edwards’ campaign). Sharpton bullied the questioners endlessly, and it largely worked (Except in the case of Rather. No one can bully the mad).

Senator Edwards picked up the day’s first Academy Award for the most convincing performance that he had thought deeply about the issue of Haiti before last Thursday. (Turns out that mill where his father worked was in Port au Prince.)

Edwards mill story is wearing thin. As is his running-against Washington schtick. He’s rich and a Senator. (Both of which are fairly impressive, no?)

Pundits who promised Edwards would use kid gloves on Kerry because he hopes to get the Veep spot on the ticket were “dead wrong.” And I don’t think Kerry likes Edwards all that much anyway.

Neither Kerry nor Edwards could sensibly answer the questions about Gay Marriage. Kerry said at one point that although he doesn’t support it personally, he has attended a gay wedding (Karl Rove is already out looking for photos). But the key question was left unanswered: Who does it hurt if two same-sex people get married?

Here’s a shot at it: No one. (Pell in 2008?)

Kerry continues to ramble and get way too inside-ish and granular on many issues (why can’t he improve on this?). When he was explaining the details about a stimulus, I fell asleep.

Questions about god and gay marriage abounded. There were no questions about the economy and jobs. Don’t misunderestimate the Bush political machine or the media’s vulnerability to its tactics.

I hate people who ask questions about likeability.

During the course of the morning, Kucinich whispered the phrase “My precious,” spoke about the power of the Ring and referred to other candidates alternatively as My Master and Mister Frodo. Any thoughts?

Kerry didn’t mention Vietnam once.

Rather asked the others if Kerry has “enough Elvis” to win in November. Does Rather now have too much Elvis to lead a network news effort?

Full Transcript Here

Concentration is important!