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MPR Senate Debate Reaction

The three Minnesota senate candidates met for their last debate tonight at the Fitzgerald theatre. You can find audio and a write up of the debate here.

(MPR Photo/Bill Alkofer)

(MPR Photo/Bill Alkofer)

Gary Eichten moderated. He’s the host of MPR’s Midday program. The debate was held in front of a live audience but not on TV. Which I think probably worked to Franken’s advantage. He’s familiar with the radio format, and many things which can come across as abrasive about Franken on TV didn’t on the radio.

Franken generally spoke in short sentences and took nice long rhetorical pauses. I think that from the performance/theatrical perspective, he won the debate.

I also think that Franken won on the issues. He hit Norm Coleman hard on lobbying and corruption. Franken got a big assist from the way the Nasser Kazeminy issue came up. Right out of the gate, Coleman was on the defensive (“Attacking my wife is crossing the line.” Also on that point – Coleman found himself seriously in the weeds when he charged that Franken writing “pornography” crossed a similar “line” to someone attacking Coleman for corruption.) Franken framed the issue as being a Coleman problem, not having anything to do with him.

Franken followed up with his “question” which he used to ask Coleman about the “revolving door” problem. How long should members of congress have to wait before joining a lobbying firm? Coleman dithered, saying basically, we’ve got bigger fish to fry.

(I agree that there are worse things than ex-congressmen getting payouts for votes they made while still serving. Health Care, Iraq, the Economy. Nonetheless, it’s a real problem, one that serious people should be working on.)

The headline from this debate will be something like “Franken hits Coleman hard on corruption.” Because that was the major punch landed, Coleman tried to go after Franken on technicalia – what bills Al would have voted for or against.

This trick is pretty silly. There are a million reasons to not vote for a given bill, and I think that people know that they are sometimes not getting the whole story when political opponents charge one other with supporting or not supporting this or that.

Franken being “excited” at the prospect of Green jobs was his high point, in terms of making a positive argument for himself. He was OK on healthcare. I was surprised to hear that all three candidates consider healthcare a “right”.

A word on the closing arguments. Here’s what I remember, and let’s pretend that that’s some kind of barometer of how well the candidates punched through.

Al Franken said, “let’s hold congress accountable.”

Norm Coleman referenced someone calling him a lying sack of shit.

Dean Barkley said that people come up to him all the time and say, I wish I could vote for you but I can’t.

If that’s what sums it up, I think Barkley supporters break something like 20 – 10 – 70, F – C – B. And that could give Franken the seat. My guess is, if any ticket splitters for Obama heard this tonight, or read the coverage, I think Franken did himself some good. Although he could have cozied up to Obama more than he did.

And when you do a debate reaction, you always gotta grade the moderator. I think that Gary had a rough night. He was unable to restrain the crowd at all. There were serious Coleman and Franken supporters at the Fitz and they made their feelings and reactions known. Gary snapped “I don’t want to be a traffic cop.” He asked some good tough questions, like kicking off the debate with the Nasser Kazeminy flap. He was chided by Barkley about not asking him questions, so Gary obliged and asked him some more.

I think that was the right thing to do, but I’m not sure that Gary was in charge for the whole event. He was sort of buffeted between the candidates, the audience at the Fitz, the unseen audience on the radio, and his own civic desire to get to the meat of the issues.

But this was a really intense debate. Franken and Coleman have real dislike for each other, and its more personal than it is professional. Coleman called Franken “unMinnesotan” which isn’t quite like calling someone “unAmerican” but it’s in the ball park.

Franken stopped short of calling Coleman corrupt, but he sure thinks he is.

In any case, it’s over soon. I think Barkley’s support deflates, and in a way that will benefit Franken more than Coleman. Maybe this debate even furthered that outcome.

Tear-jerking Obama stories

I don’t know about you, but there are two Obama stories out there that just dont fail to get the old waterworks going for me. Obviously both these stories feature older black men connecting with younger white women. Two pretty different demographics – Old versus young, men versus women, black versus white. And it really nails me when those AREN’T the things that divide the people in these stories.

This is the sort of thing that got me energized about Obama.

The ashley story, which starts at minute 33:30 or so.

This is from Obama’s speech on race in philadelphia. Good to re-watch anyway, I think.

Here’s a new video, featuring an 86-year-old Obama volunteer named Charles Alexander.

This man started to volunteer when his wife died. Then he won a raffle to meet Barack Obama. But that’s not even the part that gets me – it’s when he’s talking about the other volunteers at the office.

Not ready…yet?

So right after obama’s infomercial, the Fox Sports logo splashes across the screen, and Joe the Buck intros the resolution of game 5.

Then in the first commercial break, McCain’s got an ad. Which ends with:

Barack Obama. Not Ready…yet.

WTF? Vote McCain this time, Obama the next time? Who doles out their votes like that?

I don’t think this is a winner…yet.

Dangerous Threesome

Well, I submit to you, what threesome isn’t?

And also, if you saw this picture under the headline DANGEROUS THREESOME what would you think we were talking about?

tell me about the time Sarah put the plane up for sale...

Mitt says to Meg: tell me about the time Sarah put the plane up for sale...

If you said “Mitt Romney looks like he’s getting the short end of the stick,” then you’ve got a dirty mind.  We’re actually talking about that dastardly trio of Pelosi, Reid, and Obama.  The PRO’s, if you will. 
McCain’s argument for voting for him has become, lookit!  Voters prefer Democrats to Republicans SO much that they should vote for me, because they like Dems TOO much.  If you follow me…
Here’s a decent WaPo article on the subject of McCain’s “new line of attack.”
Seems pretty ripe for parody, IMHO.  Another day, another news cycle lost…

TPT Senate Debate reaction

Coleman, Franken, and Barkley debated each other on TPT’s Almanac program last Friday. It was mostly moderated by Cathy Wurzer, who is MPR’s local host for Morning Edition. When does that woman sleep?

Here’s a link to the video. It’s an hour long, and not as glitzy as the presidential debates, but it’s not that parochial either – it really is more about national politics and issues than Minnesota politics and issues.

I think that on points, style, and substance, Norm Coleman probably won the debate, sad to say. But here’s what I thought of each guy:

On Al Franken

Al Franken’s position on most issues matches mine. Out of Iraq, and soon. We need to institute more progessive tax policies. Better national health care (though he’s kinda wishy washy) He’s for a green economy (they all are, but he’s made it a priority in the campaign at least.)

But here’s the thing with Franken. When he speaks, he doesn’t articulate. I’m pissed off by his tone. He’s not respectful of the other guys on the dais. He questions motives rather than records. (see Joe Biden’s excellent debate response on the subject)

On his debate performance, specifically. I think he held his own on taxes and on Iraq. He squirmed a bit on being for or not for the bailout – but I don’t fault him for that too much, because I myself can’t figure out my feelings on that. But then again, that’s the job of a senator.

The thing that really stuck out were Franken’s responses to the 2nd Amendment question and to the Catholic question. He should have taken the opportunity to say that he supports the second amendment to hunt, to collect, to protect yourself – but not weapons that do none of those things. Weapons that are being used in Minneapolis and Chicago and Boston to kill people. Etc. So I think he missed an opportunity to articulate a positive vision for public safety.

On the Catholic question, he was too skittish about coming across as “other”. He’s got a Roman Catholic wife, case closed, he wanted to say. But he missed an opportunity to talk convincingly about why satire is useful. Those Roman Catholic priests? They were hardly being Catholic when they abused their power and little boys, right? Their hypocracy needed to be exposed, and that’s what satire can do well…something like that.

On Norm Coleman:

Norm Coleman, in this debate, is running hard from the Republican party. He said in this debate: “I represent a part of the Republican Party that’s unfortunately disappearing.” Basically, he’s betting – or hoping, anyway – that the Sarah Palins and Michele Bachmanns of the world won’t run rampant with the Republican Party now that Bush has wrecked the party’s image (along with the country and the rest of the planet)

What’s the part of the Republican party that’s disappearing? Norm said that he doesn’t want the Republicans just to be a party of the west and south. I think that’s code for bigots. I could be wrong, but I think that Norm was implying that the Republicans have been on the wrong side of the culture wars, and that the Republican party he longs for is the same one that David Brooks longs for. Well, if that’s really the case, good for Norm. Because the Republicans are going to be out of power for a good while now, and they should be thinking about how to move forward. Calling the other side “anti-american” because they embrace multiculturalism and dialogue is not a winning strategy anymore.

Dean Barkley, along with other political realities, has forced Norm Coleman to talk about bipartisanship. Barkley has run on being against partisan bickering. And I think that Norm thinks there are Obama voters out there who are against partisan bickering and might be turned off by Franken. (um, is that me? AHHHH)

Franken isn’t trying to be the guy who can reach across the aisle. If he’s elected, he won’t have to, anyway. So his best tactic is to snipe at Coleman’s attempt at grabbing the bipartisan mantle. Franken points out that Coleman is up for a very explicitly partisan position, the chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

Coleman rebuts: “if the job requires the way politics are now, I don’t want to be the head of the NRSC.” What a laugh – as if he would turn down the job on the grounds that the political environment is too nasty. No way he would turn down that job. That comment rates pretty high on the you-must-be-joking meter.

I think that Coleman was at his best when he was being straightforward about having to vote for bills that have items in them that you don’t like. Or the political reality of some issues never getting an up or down vote. It came up again and again, because Coleman wanted to cast himself as a pragmatist and his opponents as naive in the ways of senatorial power. Dean Barkley called him out, saying that his recommendation to have a committee come up with a social security fix was lacking in “courage.”

Coleman responds with the best line of the night: “this is like watching Carlos Gomez of the Minnesota Twins. Kinda fun to watch, but if you don’t know the fundaments, you can’t win the game.” That is to say, it’s well and good to pretend that you’d have the courage, but it wouldn’t get you anywhere in the Senate.

On Dean Barkley

This guy hardly merits a mention. He’s out of his league. He’s not playing to win, because he knows there isn’t a path to winning. So he’s doing it because he finds himself doing it. As a result, he can only react to the real candidates as some kind of special class of pundit.

From here on out

So did Norm win?

I have no idea what Minnesota voters are like, what they look for in a candidate, or what they care about. I’m a new Minnesotan, so I don’t have extreme reactions to the other Minnesota politicians that were mentioned, those being Paul Wellstone, Jesse Ventura, and Tim Pawlenty. (I’ve seen Jesse on TV making an absolute fool of himself with just moronic pronouncements about Democracy and Freedom which simply make no sense to me.) T-Paw I know just because he was supposed to be McCain’s running mate, but then got the shaft. Paul, I know that he had a lot of energy and is as close to a saint in the state’s recent history as you can get.

That being said, how can I judge how Minnesotans will see Al Franken? Will they see him as the champion of the Left that took to much crap from the Right? Al Franken won the nomination because of his name recognition and the fact that he’s bloodied up the other side but good over the years. And they deserved it. From Ann Coulter to Sean Hannity to Rush, to Bill-O, those people are hateful, xenophonic bloviards, and Franken was our guy to counter them. And more power to him. “Lies” was great.

But the DFL should have had a REAL primary campaign to determine who would being their candidate, not this DFL endorsement crap. It’s totally bizarre how Franken became the nominee. I know that the Feb 5th caucuses had no bearing on it. And the the primaries in september had no bearing either. just Crazy.

If there had been a rigorous DFL process, then Barkley wouldn’t have had an opening, and we wouldn’t be talking about it.

It’s hard for me to type, “I’ll vote for Al Franken for Senator.” And this is from a guy who volunteered for Obama in the primaries. I’m a democrat, and lifelong. I certainly can’t type “I’ll vote for Norm Coleman for Senator.”

This is a tough situation. Maybe I can just vote “present.”

Fire James Kotecki

 

Snotty Intern?

Snotty Intern?

I wonder if James Kotecki just the snotty intern who never left. He’s so goddam annoying. I challenge anyone to sit through an episode of Kotecki TV and not want to deck this guy. Do Ben Smith and J-mart just want to kick his ass every time he trots up to their cubes?

I’m not saying I could do better.

I’m not saying I don’t like his politics, because I have no idea what they are.

I’m not saying I don’t like him as a journalist, because he doesn’t qualify. He’s a vlogger, an occupation with relatively low barriers to entry.

I’m saying I don’t like the guy personally.

fuck this guy:
http://link.brightcove.com/services/player/bcpid1155201977?bctid=1877536292

The small joys of living in fake America.

Hayes, seen here with a Real American.  (I think it's his daughter.)

Hayes, seen here with a Real American.

 

Today, the Crypt over at politico did a fantastic job of chronicling how an asshole said something horrible, glib, mean spirited, and above all, false.

At a Palin Rally, North Carolina Representative Robin Hayes said “liberals hate real Americans that work and achieve and believe in God.”

Now, I actually kind of believe him that he believed that he didn’t say that “liberals hate real Americans.” I think that in his mind he was telling the crowd something along these lines:

1. You all are not Liberals.

2. Did you know that Liberals don’t like you?

3. That’s right, they don’t!

4. and who are you? (that is, who are we?)

5. You’re real Americans. You work hard and achieve and you believe in God.

It also seems like he was saying “liberals hate real Americans” like “cockroaches hate RAID” Cockroaches don’t hate RAID – they don’t have the faculty of hatred. But RAID does fuck up some cockroaches. just like we fuck us up some liberals. Git ‘er done!

I don’t think that he (in his mind) was actually asserting that those Americans who are liberals don’t work hard, achieve, or believe in God. I don’t think that he actually thinks of people – you know, real human beings – when he says the word “liberal”. I think he just means “them.” – a generalized “not us” whose only characteristics are the opposites of the ones we have.

Since we believe in God, “they” must not believe in god.
Since we were hard, “they” must not.
Since we are Real Americans, “they” must not be.

But “they” only serve to define who “we” are. He’s not making actual assertions that he believes that all people who are liberals (like you and me!) are lazy fake Americans. (I mean, he’s got me personally on not believing in God, but sadly, there are LOTS of liberals who believe in god.)

Its extremely assholish that this guy would swear up and down he didn’t say something when there’s going to be proof. And i DO think he’s a total asshole. I just believe him when he says that he didn’t know he said what he said.  Because he doesn’t keep “liberals” and “people” in the same part of his brain.

It’s probably surprising to him that liberals are real live people,  And that’s the part that’s really damning – obivously he knows that liberals can be religious, and that they may even be Americans.  But he hates them.  and he denies them the consideration he gives himself and his team.