Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Ohio 13th Debate Awards.

I'm not doing a point-by-point recap of an hour and a half debate. So instead, I'll Wayne's World it.

[cue guitar]

Best worst best worst
Party on

Best overall strategy: Foltin inviting the audience to count the number of times Betty says “Corruption.” Underscores the criticism of her as a one-note and a lesser candidate might have been intimidated into changing her strategy. Wisely, Betty faced it head-on, but still it was a brilliant strategy going in.

Best spin, candidate division. Foltin talking about the run of Lorain employees convicted of crimes was masterful. Talking sardonically about the “hardened criminals” in his administration, he ran through a minimizing litany of what happened. His explication doesn’t fit with the facts in the record, but as a freestanding spin job, it was masterful.

Best spin, staff division. In the course of the debate, Foltin quoted Betty after a vote against a bill proscribing late-term abortion as saying “it’s not about life, it’s politics.” I knew what the context was without looking at the article in question. Betty was saying that the bill wasn’t about anything but symbolic politics, but Foltin was inviting the audience to infer that she thinks politics is more important than life. His Communications Director came into the spin room wielding the article, saying “See, See?” I pointed out that Craig was overreading the comment, but she would not be deterred. I’m not buying what she’s selling, but I’ll give her points for tenacity.

Worst spin. Betty on the primary campaign. Did she regret the charges against Tom Sawyer? Well my position blah blah eliminate perks, blah, that’s what I was saying, blah blah talking beyond the travel issue, she’s lost the room about five sentences ago . . . The reason she has lost support she should have is the overkill on the Sawyer travel issue. And her inability to discuss it coherently. If she doesn’t want to revisit the issue all over again in 2008, she needs to come up with a better answer. Now.

Best answer to a question: Betty on whether we need to reinstate the draft. Here are my notes:

    As the aunt of an Iraq war veteran, my niece’s service made a difference to me. Not enough people on cong with family in conflict. Problem with draft was that people with money still avoided serving. Draft wouldn't accomplish goal. But we do need more shared sacrifice.
Doesn’t go the politically suicidal route of advocating a draft, but gives a nod to concerns that the all-volunteer armed forces puts the burden disproportionately on working class kids. Nice.

Best moment. Betty on the border fence: “After five years of the Bush administration, this is what they offer as a solution – put up a fence.” Doesn’t work as well without seeing the expression of resigned incredulity on her face, but trust me, she got the one real laugh of the evening.

Biggest load of crap. Foltin on stem cell research. He’s in favor of adult stem cell research – oh, thanks for that – but hasn’t seen the scientific evidence demonstrating benefits of embryonic stem cell research. That’s just pure nonsense. Embryonic stem cells are the same as adult stem cells, only better. The only way that could possibly be true is if he’s never actually looked.

Worst false equivalency. EMILY’s list is not the same as PHARMA. A bunch of concerned citizens believing in something on a personal level is not the same as an industry lobby looking to get paid. Agree with the position or not, personal conviction is fundamentally different than profit motive. Get it? Next journalist to conflate the two shall be sentenced to twenty hours of watching a loop of tobacco executives denying that cigarettes are addictive.

Most tiresome trope. Foltin’s faux outrage at Betty’s stand on late-term abortion. I’m with him on this and I grew weary of his histrionics well before they were over.

Dumbest question. Tom Beres on ethics. “Assume you are a member of Congress and find undisputable evidence that a member of your own party is selling his vote. What do you do, who do you talk to? “ If you can’t ask an ethics question without making it a hanging curve ball, why bother?

Second worst answer to a question. Betty regarding whether she can say anything good about her opponent. She said he tries hard to promote his city. It’s a tough questions and arguably unfair, but she came off as ungracious.

Worst response to a question. When Foltin was asked the same question, he said “No.” Throughout the debate he danced along the line between being a tough campaigner and sounding like a dick. With that response, nearly at the end of the room, he left no doubt as to the latter and negated whatever sympathy he might have gained from Betty’s ham-handed response.

I probably have one more post on all this, plent for a race that's more than over.

Party on, Garth.