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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Solid Content, Little Drama in First Debate

First, raspberries to NBC for broadcasting the first Dem presidential primary debate only to those who have the expensive cable TV package or cable modems/DSL hook-ups that actually perform well. This was the opening of a political campaign that has generated wide, intense interest, according to polls, and the public deserved better. So there.
Brian Williams did a good job of asking tough questions and the Dem field performed well as a whole. There are no national post-debate polls out yet, but viewers of the debate are undoubtedly clear on which party’s candidates are committed to getting us out of Iraq as quickly as possible.
The consensus in the blogs and rags seems to be that no candidate leap-frogged over the others and none destroyed their chances. There were no campaign-nuking one-liners like “Where’s the beef?”, or gaffes like Gerald Ford calling Poland a free country.
But there were some impressive sound-bites. Hard to imagine a better answer, for example, than Joe Biden’s when asked what was his worst failure. Without missing a beat, he replied “overestimating the competence of this administration and underestimating the arrogance.” The other candidates should take note. This is a good example of the kind of eloquent brevity that scores in such formats.
It ought to go without saying, but just in case anyone missed it, candidates, please do not under any circumstances compare yourself to “a potted plant.” The creds you gain as a humorist probably won’t last as long in voter memories as the image associated with your name.
For a sense of how the debate is being perceived by Democratic blog-readers, check out MyDD‘s post-debate comment string on the topic. Reports by WaPo and the Grey Lady are available here and here. South Carolina’s leading rag, The State has a decent wrap-up by Aaron Gould Sheinin. OK, to be fair to MSNBC.com, they do have a pretty good debate wrap-up package here, which includes jazzy candidate response thumbnails you can vote on.

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