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Monday, October 27, 2003

And the winner of the debate is...Huel Perkins!
I chickened out and decided not to go to tonight's debate in Detroit. I would have had to get there THREE hours early for some reason, and I had too much else going on. I did TiVo it, and just finished watching it. FoxNews has the transcript online, so I can now review it.

The debate got off to a roaring start with some great Bush-bashing; unfortunately, Kucinich didn't get a chance to take part in that, being the last candidate given a chance to speak. Still, it was a good start. For example:

Dean: I don't think service men and women do view my position as short of supporting the troops. I've made it very clear that we need to support our troops, unlike President Bush, who tried to cut their combat pay after they'd been over there and he'd doubled their tour of duty, unlike President Bush who tried to cut -- who successfully cut 164,000 veterans off their health-care benefits.

I'd say all of us up here support our troops a great deal more than the president of the United States does.


Kerry: This president has done it wrong every step of the way. He promised that he would have a real coalition. He has a fraudulent coalition. He promised he would go through the United Nations and honor the inspections process. He did not. He promised he would go to war as a last resort, words that mean something to me as a veteran. He did not.

He broke every promise. He's done it wrong.


Sharpton: You cannot get right out of wrong. Bush was wrong to go in in the first place.

(APPLAUSE)

To delay coming out is not going to make it right. We cannot continue to play Bush roulette -- it used to be Russian roulette, now it's Bush roulette...

(LAUGHTER)

... with the lives of American troops seeing every day, with no real exit strategy, what's going to happen, are you going to make it or not. We need to not get into another Vietnam, talking about withdrawing with honor. Mr. Bush put the honor of this nation aside when he deceived the public by putting us in harm's way with no weapons of mass destruction.

(APPLAUSE)

We need to go to the U.N., we need to say that we are working a multilateral commitment. And we need to show that we really love the troops by bringing the troops home.


Clark: Right after 9/11, this administration determined to do bait and switch on the American public. President Bush said he was going to get Osama bin Laden, dead or alive. Instead, he went after Saddam Hussein. He doesn't have either one of them today.

(APPLAUSE)

I've been against this war from the beginning. I was against it last summer, I was against it in the fall, I was against it in the winter, I was against it in the spring. And I'm against it now. It was an unnecessary war. There was no imminent threat.


Edwards: Then the president of the United States comes to us and says, "I want $87 billion, trust me on this, I'll be back next year to ask for more and more money." Here's my view, Joe: For me to vote yes on that would be to give this president a blank check, and I am not willing to give George Bush a blank check.

(APPLAUSE)

And I will never give George Bush a blank check.


The debate kind of degenerated after that, in my opinion. After this, the best lines came from Fox2 Detroit news anchor Huel Perkins:

Asking the right question of the right candidate:
PERKINS: Senator Lieberman, in light of that, there are many who believe that peace in the world is impossible without some resolution of the Palestinian issue.

(APPLAUSE)

How far are you willing to go? How much are you willing to do to win the trust of the Palestinian people?


Perkins also gave Edwards the most hittable hanging slider of the evening:
PERKINS: Senator Edwards, I don't know if you've had a chance to see the city of Detroit, but this city is a symbol of the promise and the problems facing this nation.

And the people here realize that foreign issues are very important, but they also want to know how is it that Washington -- the president and Congress -- can find $87 billion to rebuild Iraq...
(APPLAUSE)
... and not find enough money to rebuild American cities?


(I'll bet Gephardt and Lieberman, who voted for the $87 billion, were glad he didn't address that question to them.)

Perkins also addressed the drug issue better than any of the candidates:
PERKINS: Senator Lieberman, a famous talk-show host admits his addiction to prescription drugs.
(LAUGHTER)
He goes off for treatment. There are addicts who have also admitted that they have a problem. They're behind bars right now. There seems to be a disparity...
(APPLAUSE)
... real or perceived, a disparity. But it seems that if you're rich and famous, you go to rehab, but if you're poor and unknown, you go to jail.
(APPLAUSE)
How will you change the perceived mistreatment, or real mistreatment, of people in the medical and legal fields?


In the last year or so in which I've been active in the anti-war movement, I've been surprised that among local TV stations, Fox2 Detroit has provided the best coverage (sometimes the only coverage) of our protests and other events. I rarely watch the TV news on any channel, but I've seen their cameras at our marches, our press conferences, and at the Kucinich campaign kickoff event in Detroit. Perkins was so good, better than the candidates, really, in presenting the progressive point of view with his questions, I'm somewhat concerned that the "fair and balanced" crew at the national Fox News network will take note and rein Fox2 Detroit in a bit.

Anyhow, I declare Huel Perkins to be the winner of the debate! For better or worse, he even caught Kucinich in a mis-statement. While I agree with Dennis on basically all of the issues, I question his debate strategy. Maybe to win the nomination he has to attack Dean, but I think he would come across a lot better just hammering Bush and sticking to his main issues. Universal health care and repealing NAFTA and the WTO should be huge sellers here in Michigan. Both Sharpton and Moseley-Braun successfully deflected questions on jobs with answers about about universal health care; Kucinich should do the same. Of course, he still doesn't get as many questions to answer; Fox wasn't as scrupulous in their time-keeping as they were in the first debate they did in Baltimore.