Thursday, October 4, 2007

There's Something About Bill: Lo-Tech Special

A version of this article appears in this week's SFR.

Rating His Debating :: The Lo-Tech Version
(using a voice recorder set next to the tv, and camera phone pointed at the screen)
By Dave Maass

There’s a great line from a second season episode of the latest Doctor Who: Following an Earth-invasion attempt, the prime minister laser-beams a retreating alien ship. Appalled, the Doctor states he can bring her down with six words, which he whispers into her assistant’s ear: “Don’t you think she looks tired?” It works.

Not to sabotage Bill’s campaign, but doesn’t he look, sound, act tired? There was the gay-is-a-choice gaffe (excuse: jet lag). He confused SEIU with AFSCME while courting the labor vote. Finally, his performance during the Sept. 26 MSNBC debate was flat and meandering.

Being inarticulate isn’t necessarily a disqualifier, at least among Republicans, who s
eem to identify with bumbling orators. We wonder whether’s editors will endorse Bill, if only to adapt their Bushisms feature to Billisms.

Speaking of Slate, surely some portion of 1.4 million viewers had to agree with Brit contributor Christopher Hitchens’ observation that the Dem candidates have lost their luster (except maybe Hillary, with her increasingly charming self-deprecation and the implication that she, not her husband, wears the pants).

While Bill’s unique as the only non-Congressperson, he dropped the ball when moderator Tim Russert pointed out that managing New Mexico is hardly comparable to, say, California or Texas. Sure, Bill also stood out by claiming he’d bring the troops home lickety-split. Obama, Clinton and Edwards would not commit, but their rebuttals painted Bill’s exit strategy (take ’em through Kuwait, Turkey; leave light equipment behind) as impractical poll-pandering.

Bill even had an alienating Axis-of-Evil moment, bragging about his diplomacy with the “bad guys.”

Then there was the audience question on immigration: Would Bill allow sanctuary cities to continue? He’s based in Santa Fe, a notable sanctuary city, and he should’ve unloaded specific examples about how tolerance has benefited the community. Instead, he played the Hispanic card.

The biggest hit was Russert’s condescension of Bill’s social security plan. Postulating a $300 million deficit, Russert teased, “It’s not funny money. It’s real money.”

According to Chris Dodd’s talk clock, Bill racked up almost 12 minutes of airtime. Fourth place, again. No matter how many bones he’s thrown, Bill will never lead the pack until he shakes himself awake and plays alpha dog.

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