I’m still baffled by why this debate was so underplayed, especially given the lively talk about race issues that seemed inevitable from the outset and which riddled most of the evening. The always entertaining Reverend Al Sharpton delivered this highly quotable admonishment to the Democratic party at large: “We help take you to the dance and you leave with right-wingers. In 2004, if we take you to the party, you go home with us or we don’t take you to the party.” It’s as good a summation as any of the tenor of the evening: lively, brawling and odd.
Fox News May Not Actually Hate Democrats
Strangest of all is the fact that the debate was broadcast only by the irascible Fox News Channel and moderated — well, hosted — by its lead anchorman, Brit Hume. To say this is a strange combination is an understatement; no one would have believed you before tonight if you’d predicted that one of the major platforms for irrational right wing fervor would play host to a forum for its political arch enemies, and that that forum would itself be sponsored by what might be easily if unfairly construed as a leading proponent of special interests antithetical to conservative America. To Fox’s credit, they dedicated a prominent prime time slot to the affair and acted, at least within the timeframe of the debate itself, with great professionalism.
The Under-Average Joe
I have unkinder things to say about Senator Joseph Lieberman’s campaign for the nomination, though. It’s not just that the man is attempting to raise his own fortunes through repeated attacks on Governor Howard Dean. Rather, it’s the fact that he was easily the most conservative politician on the stage, a veritable elephant with a donkey pin on his lapel, and that this has been borne out in his recent history of unflattering hawkishness, from which he has been backing away with only great reluctance. I find his conveniently timed criticisms of President Bush’s debacle in Iraq — as well as those of Senator Kerry and Representative Gephardt — to be remarkably disingenuous. They voted ‘yes’ way back when, and now they refuse to share the blame.