In what looks to be the longest campaigning season ever recorded, today the Democrats’s took one step closer toward their siege of the White House. At South Carolina State University, Eight Democratic presidential hopefuls convened for a debate that turned out less to be platform on distinguishing themselves from the rest of the pack and more about their shared bashing of the lame-duck-to-be, current President of the United States of America, George Walker Bush. The debate, which pre-dates the kickoff Iowa caucuses by about nine months, was 90 minutes long and without an opening or closing statement.
Debaters were limited to 60 second answers and the quick fire structure led to a rather fast paced, sound bite friendly affair. The questions ranged from topics such as -‘what would you do the first day in office?’ to ‘By a show of hands, how many of you have had a gun in your household as an adult’ to ‘Name one memorable mistake you have made in office.’ At times it felt more like a dating show than a political platform, as personalities and pre-recorded speeches came out - and each candidate attempted to leave their impression on we the people. Heck, they even touched on grooming, with John Edwards and his questionable hair cuts!
The overriding theme of the debate remained the deep running opposition to the war in Iraq. Questions about international policy in other regions in the world were peppered at the panel of contestants, but the focus and interest was primarily on the quagmire at hand, our exit plan or lack there of. With GOP out of the picture (for one night) all thought process was on the shared ideas of troop withdrawal.
Barack Obama stated, “I am proud that I opposed this war from the start.” (a thinly veiled jab at his peers on stage that did vote to authorize the invasion)
Hillary Clinton pledged, “If this president does not get us out of Iraq, when I am president, I will.” (Clinton = recipient of Obama’s thinly veiled jab)
John Edwards also joined the verbal bar fight as he told Clinton that she and everyone else that voted to authorize the war should “search their conscience.” (Oddly enough, Edwards also did vote for the invasion, but he has since apologized…so, um…I guess that means he’s absolved of the issue?)
“The president has a fundamentally flawed policy” said Joe Biden and according to Chris Dodd, Bush was pursuing a “failed policy”
Dennis Kucinich also threw a left hook out there as he pontificated that it made no sense to oppose the war then turn around and vote for more money as many of them did.
Alas, the debate ended with as much flare as it began. Which is to say…not much flare. Noticeable absent from the hour and a half of positioning and posturing was conflict, as most candidates were extremely respectful and articulate in their points of view. Inherently and obviously, there was much parity to the many opinions of the group relative to the Dem’s Right leaning opponents. And overall, the evening was mostly entertaining – in a pseudo, quasi kind of way. The kind of entertainment you get from watching a ‘high speed’ police car chase in Los Angeles – time consuming, semi-interesting with the potential of mayhem…yet, the car usually just cruises down the street going 30 mph until the drive finally decides he’s wasted enough time, and gives up out of futility – pulling over to merely get cuffed in an obscenely anticlimactic fashion.
So, ultimately, this was the OJ-chase-scene of debates, but in the end, that’s okay. We were hooked in by the speeches and will remain generally excited by all the contestants, I mean candidates. No fireworks today. But fear not, we may be many moons away from the caucuses but its draws near and will be here before we know it. Sit tight, stay tuned…this race will be as entertaining as can be…or at the very least it will be memorable - in our inaugural new-media-youtube-age-election. And WE THE (2.0) PEOPLE will be watching, judging and eventually...voting.