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Wednesday, August 06, 2003

Kucinich gets a good review from MSNBC
The leaders of organized labor played host Tuesday night to a nine-candidate free-for-all among the Democratic presidential contenders. Long-shot contender Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio stood out from the crowd, delivering a rousing performance, challenging former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean on why he wasn’t willing to cut the defense budget and demanding that Rep. Dick Gephardt of Missouri tell the audience whether he’d revoke the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and pull the United States out of the World Trade Organization.

After the debate Kucinich insisted that it wasn’t impractical to cancel NAFTA and pull out of the WTO. “No one here answered that question.... None of them would say it — not even Dick Gephardt who is trying to rely on support from labor to become the next president.”

I watched much of the debate. I couldn't really hear the response from the audience on C-Span; from the MSNBC article it sounds like Kucinich got good reactions from the crowd. Unfortunately, that didn't come across on TV, making his "rousing performance" seem a bit shrill. Dean also was a bit harsh, and his smile was positively scary. Gephardt looks very close to a heart attack every time he tries to be forceful. No one has any idea how Kerry looks when he tries to be forceful, since he never seems to try. His line about "trickle-down economics" seemed to get a great response from the crowd. It was something like "It's time to stop George Bush from trickling down on us." I still have no idea why Lieberman keeps getting invited to Democratic events.

My response to last night's debate is similar to the first one I saw a few months ago. While I support Kucinich wholeheartedly, and no other candidate is close to him on the issues or the record, he does not come across well in TV debates. I'm pretty sure that Kucinich is sincere in wanting to be president, but his several challenges to the other candidates last night almost made it seem as though his main purpose was to get them to adopt parts of his platform rather than to beat them with it. If I had no prejudices going in and watched either debate cold, I would say that John Edwards and Al Sharpton are the most reasonable, likeable candidates. If Edwards were to renounce his vote for the Iraq war, blaming Bush for deceiving Congress and vociferously calling for an investigation leading to impeachment, he would quickly climb to be my second choice after Kucinich.