Democratic Debate Preview

In just a little over an hour, the Democratic candidates will line up for what seems to be at least the ninetieth debate, and while many people are suffering from debate fatigue, you know that’s impossible for me, and I’ll be right here, watching the fireworks, or if things go the other way, the total lack of fireworks.

You can join me for the event, as is always the case when I liveblog a debate, I do it in the comments section so that as long as people aren’t coming in to spam us, all are free to join in the commentary and debate.

So what to expect tonight, after the fold.

At this point, there’s just about one story in the Democratic contest, but to oblige the rest of the field, some of the smaller stories swirling around the upcoming event.

Kucinich and Gravel I expect to still stand in the background, and to be perfectly honest, I’m not surprised that they are still in the contest, but must admit to being a little dismayed.  At this stage of the game, as an observer of the political process, I would really like to hone down the field to just those that have a shot therefore allowing us to really get into their performances.

Not all should be eager to narrow the field, particularly Hillary Clinton.  One thing that I’ve noticed in recent debates is that the size of the field actually works to her advantage, and will continue to do so as time goes on and her lead continues to solidify.

With that many people on stage, many different evolutions are occuring to the frontrunner’s benefit.  For one, as many pundits predict, there will be a big bull’s eye on Hillary’s back, but in a crowded field, this only acts to reaffirm her place at the head of the pack.  The other interesting thing is that Hillary has made it something of a trademark move of hers to let an issue be debated intensely by her colleagues on stage, and then at the end of it, she will summarize everyone’s opinion, say something to the effect of, “see we’re all the good guys” and then attack the Republicans.

This is particularly powerful in that it again reaffirms her place at the head of  the pack, but also shows that she is already thinking towards the general election, and is acting as the emissary to the voters on behalf of the field.  In a smaller field where there are fewer targets in general, the effect of attacking a single target is conversely diminished.

Then we have the residents of the “not quite ridiculous” tier; Biden, Dodd, and Richardson.  Biden is stagnant, Richardson who at one point looked as though he was almost ready for the big time seemed to almost disappear off the face of the planet, and then there was Dodd.

To think that Dodd’s presidential ambitions did not even cross his mind when he swore to filibuster the upcoming FISA bill that would grant telecommunication companies retroactive immunity would be naive.  I wouldn’t be surprised if the move came up tonight, and it could be Dodd’s chance to try and make a late name for himself.

I’m not impugning the man’s honor, mind you, but I would point out that the email I got regarding the filibuster came from the campaign.

Finally, breaking through to the top tier, Edward’s seems to be playing out a long and slowly painful political tragedy.  His attempts to resolidify the trade vote have not resulted in appreciable poll returns, and the decidedly more aggressive tone of his 2008 campaign which is a marked difference from his 2004 bid has not helped him much either.

I said this early on, Edwards I think went on offense too fast and too hard, and he’s not been able to find his footing since, and now he’s in a position of trying to decide if he wants to go after Hillary or if he needs to try and knock down Obama as the number two man, and I think we’ll see which way he goes tonight.

Finally we get down to the main event, Hillary and Obama.  You know the buzz on the streets by now, after telegraphing that he is going to show a more aggressive side, he needs to follow through.

An interesting aside here is that a lot of the punditry seem to be rooting for the guy; listening to clips of Hardball earlier today, I was somewhat surprised to hear both Chris Matthews and Pat Buchanan at least seeming to take his side and offer what sounded kinda like fatherly advice.

But you know my views on this, Obama as he stands is just about done.  It would be foolish to make a solid prediction months before voters go to the polls, but he needs to enact a significant change to his approach to the contest, or come very early next year, he won’t be in it anymore.

I’m going to side with the multitude of voices that have said he needs to come out tonight swinging.  Granted, this is not for the benefit of the Democratic voters; debate fatigue has largely started to set in, and I still wonder how many people are watching these things and using them to make their decision.  But there is a small audience, the opinion peddlers, the pundits, the journalists, the party stalwarts, and the bloggers who will be watching, and for those on the Democratic side of the house anyway, they need to see someone with some fight in him.

And the onus is on the rest of the field, particularly Obama, to disrupt Hillary’s current rhythm.  One of the many aspects about the frontrunner that has made her so successful is that she doesn’t actually engage in debate.  With the finesse and speed of a seasoned bantamweight, she ducks and dodges attacks of substance, and redirects them at her opponents (again, particularly in the case of Obama), and in order for anyone to have a shot at taking her down, this has got to end.

She’s made enough missteps and errors, she’s cast enough votes on the wrong side that the inevitable smell can be slapped right off of her runaway campaign, but it’s not going to be easy, and it’s going to take persistence, and the ability to drag her, kicking and screaming if need be, into an actual substantive debate.

Like any other early debate, this one will be chewed up, digested, and forgotten long before many voters hit the polls, but make no mistakes, it is an important event.  As we go from being early in the campaign straight to the urgent, time is running out, phase, this is going to be a make or break moment for at least those folks on stage who do still entertain a glimmer of hope at winning the coveted title of Democratic Nominee.

I’ll see you in about an hour!

2 Responses to “Democratic Debate Preview”

  1. mick says:

    Based on what I see around me, I have to wonder about that “debate fatigue” thing. That may be true for activists and political junkies but most people I know are just beginning to pay attention. I know people planning to watch tonight’s debate for whom it will be their first.

  2. Andrew says:

    Helloo my dear friend, email me i want ask you some question

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