After a promising start, the Rock the Vote debate petered out into yet another convoluted forum where, not unlike slam, cliched soundbites won out over depth and I suspect anybody that is even moderately aware of the candidates walked away not really hearing anything new and, more unfortunately, not seeing enough to sway them in, or away from, any particular direction. Hopefully for anyone tuning in for the first time, it spurred them into getting more information. I agree with Kerry's wife that they're not the ideal way to do it but, at the same time, I think it's too early for any of the candidates to be excluded by anything other than their own choice. Except for Leiberman. The more I see him, the more I dislike him. I find it hard to believe he really thinks he stands a chance unless he's secretly running for Cheney's VP spot. He can stay home.
The beginning, though, was something to see as Dean took it on the chin over his ill-conceived "pickups and confederate flags" comment. Questioned on it by a young black male who said he found it offensive, and challenged by Sharpton as being "too arrogant to say 'I'm wrong,'" Dean refused, and instead tried to restate his comments in a less offensive way. Way too often he confuses hard-nosed determination with being an arrogant jackass. (Shut up! I know I can be that way, too - though not nearly as often! - that's why I recognize it for what it is; but I'm not running for President. Yet.) John Edwards said it best when he said Dean was condescending to and stereotyping white Southerners and that was no way to win that particular vote.
Another interesting moment was former Gen. Wesley Clark's vaguely noncommital take on the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy. You feel like he agrees with it but is choosing to duck the issue by saying the military leadership needs to review the policy and tell the political leaders what they're going to do about it.
The post-debate wrap-up by Paula Zahn was some of the lamest and most biased interviewing I've ever seen as she grilled Kerry and Edwards about the Dean/Confederate Flag issue as if she were on Dean's payroll, then softballed Dean giving him every chance to clarify himself without any similar challenging, and didn't even bother to interview Kucinich, Sharpton or Mosley-Braun. Zahn's got a bright future waiting for her at FOX News: We Spin It, You Swallow It.
In related news, I bought my tickets today for Kucinich's upcoming appearance at Hunter's Kaye Playhouse, Bringing vision back into politics, on Friday, November 21 @ 8pm. For anyone that has no problem dropping $7-10 for a poetry show or a movie (or two coffees at Starbucks!), I'd strongly encourage them to pony up $15 and check it out. I suspect few will walk away from it feeling like his candidacy is pointless or that he'd be a "wasted vote."
More on that another day when - hold your breath - I admit I was wrong about something a while back!