At the DFL's US Senate candidate debate last night. How was it?
Well, grasshopper it was . . . . . fine.
You don't sound very enthusiastic, Spotty. What was the matter?
The Senate District 62 organized the event at (Teddy) Roosevelt High School; these people ARE organized. But . . .
But what, Spotty?
The debate itself seemed pretty scripted. Questions were submitted by the audience on note cards in advance of the debate. Then a few were selected, and each candidate got two minutes to answer each question. The questions chosen were pretty predictable: Iraq war, global warming, abortion, gay marriage, sub-prime mortgage crisis. Brian Melendez, the moderator and DFL state party chair, was the most unscripted guy on the stage.
Those sound like pretty good topics, Spot.
Well, of course they are. But what was missing for Spot was some open mike time for questions from the audience. You know, those often great—and sometimes offbeat—questions you can get from the hoi polloi. Perhaps there could have been a way to permit at least a few people to ask questions orally. Spot, for example, had a question, ingenious in its simplicity, that would have immediately separated the wheat from the chaff, the pretenders from the king, the . . .
We get the idea, Spot. What was the question?
Like Spot is going to tell you now. He'll save it, and perhaps in the fullness of time, Spot will get a chance to use it. You all, boys and girls, can try to guess what the question is.
There was a summary of the debate in the Strib this morning.
What did you think of the candidates, Spot?
Because of the format, it was mostly like four guys taking turns in a batting cage. Spot hasn't picked a candidate, and you, boys and girls, are not likely to find out who he is even when Spot has made up his mind. Spot does, however, have a couple of observations.
Mike Ciresi had the best riff of the night:
Ciresi's most spirited remarks came in answer to an abortion rights question when he said "Republicans said they were going to get government out of our lives," but instead told Americans how to live, pray, die and which children to have.
"We should have a politics of hope and vision. Don't let Republicans dictate the agenda to us," he said.
Spot thinks that Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer turned in the best overall performance. He demonstrated a facility with the discussion of a broad range of topics from the Iraq war to global warming. Franken and Ciresi are kind of the leading candidates in the minds of a lot of people but Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer deserves a serious look. Everybody invoked the memory of Paul Wellstone, but Nelson-Pallmeyer was the most Wellstonian.
But Spot still doesn't know who would be the best against Norm Coleman, one-on-one.
[update] Proving again that Eric Black is, among other things, a much better note taker than Spot, Eric did the most comprehensive report on the debate that Spot has seen. [/update]