26 September 2006

Debate Notes

I know everyone already has their wrap-ups out and this is pretty stale by now, but I figured I'd put it out there. I actually had it ready at ten this morning, but blogger wasn't working and then I was at meetings. Enjoy.

My initial reaction to last night's debate --- other than hoping that it's the only one that will use that atrocious 60/30 format --- is that Kerry Healey can't ignore Christy Mihos during future debates as she tried to last night. It's clear that Mihos has targeted her supporters and not Deval Patrick's, and if Healey is to gain any traction over the next month, she's going to have to respond to Mihos. Patrick, on the other hand doesn't really need to acknowledge Grace Ross or Mihos, unless they've made a good point in attacking one of Healey's position. Or, as he did last night, he can sit back and watch as Healey gets battered, or at least mocked --- like when Mihos repeatedly mentioned that Jane Swift was Healey's hero.

Patrick looked uncomfortable as Healey took that beating on the Big Dig and the Romney administration's handling of it before and after the I-90 ceiling collapse. He did start it off by commenting on the administration's inaction in the year's prior to the collapse and the "shocking shame" of waiting until a tragedy to step in, yet as the debate descended into furious crosstalk, Patrick became silent. He looked more concerned about the deterioration of the discussion than his inability to get another word in edgewise. I think he actually felt bad for Healey for a second.

Also, and Jon Keller pointed this out in his reaction last night, Patrick needs to stop commending and agreeing with Healey in the first sentence.
Just stop telling me I have a good point despite our profound disagreement on a matter of principle, that you can see my point of view on this, and in many ways, I’m right, that we can come together and find common ground and work together and engage in meaningful dialogue and check back in together and find our shared, common, collective connections and sing Kumbaya, my Lord, Kumbaya, oh Lord, Kumbaya!!! Please, I’m begging you, stop. You win.
It mostly sounds forced and he then disagrees with Healey on some foundational level anyway, even if it is a polite segue.

When asked the final question about being able to take criticism and negative ads, Patrick did an excellent job in tying this race and Healey in with the "agressive Congress" that he worked against under the Clinton administration. Not only did he get to remind voters that Healey is a Republican and that the Republicans control Congress, but he also re-established his own closeness with President Clinton. While Healey will be running away from Romney and Bush for the next six weeks, Patrick has the luxury of reminding everyone he stood for civil rights during the much-more-popular-everyday Clinton years.

Grace Ross, if I understood her correctly --- and I'm not sure I did --- suggested that we shouldn't poll just likely voters because those who don't vote have a right to democracy as well. I agree with the latter half of that statement, and also that right is best exercised by voting. I don't want to make too much of it, because most of what she said was fairly well-reasoned and clearly articulated, but that really threw me for a loop.

Lastly, Patrick's move in his close, mentioning that he's "not a theorist" but "a prosecutor" was fairly genius. Healey should be running on record, but she has no record. In fact, in Patrick's first go at elective office, he's already got more substance to run on than Healey, even though she's been LG for four years and head of the Republican Party in Mass --- two things Patrick and Mihos were already reminding her (and voters) of. So now, after the first debate, Healey worships Jane Swift, waits until tragedy forces her to action, is close with two disliked entities (Congress and Romney) and she's just a theorist.

I know I didn't really talk about the candidates' positions on anything, but where they stand on taxes, health care, patronage and immigration has been well covered already (though not here, so maybe I'll work on that). All in all, I think Mihos will be the most remembered voice and face from last evening, but I don't know if he was the winner. Healey, taking the beating she did from everyone, was probably the loser. If you saw it, put your reactions in the comments.


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