Tuesday, October 3, 2006

"Cool, a windmill!" and other thoughts on tonight's debate

After last weeks debate for governor, I vowed not to vote for Christy Mihos because he wanted to throw people in jail for driving with expired auto registrations. But tonight, he proposed that the state help everyone to buy their own windmill.

Not "a chicken in every pot and a car in every garage," but a windmill on every roof.

Inspiring, isn't it?

Well, that still won't be enough to get me to vote for Christy. Even if it were, I'd have to discard what might have been the most disjointed, rambling, cliche-ridden, stream-of-consciousness, manic debate performance I've seen in quite a while. Think of Admiral Stockdale on crack.

No, if I were to choose my candidate based solely on tonight's debate, I'd be voting for Grace Ross. She was really good. Of all of the candidates, she seemed to be the most comfortable speaking about the issues and how they fit into her view of government. She is unelectable for a bunch of reasons (no money, no major party support, uninspiring physical appearance to name a couple off the top of my head) but if we were back in the days when everyone got their news over the radio and third parties had a real opportunity to get votes, Ross would be a player.

(Of course under those circumstances, Mihos would automatically win, because a black man and two women would not even be on the ballot, but work with me.)

On the other hand, Deval Patrick again was trying to take the air out of the ball. He's way ahead, he knows it, and he's doing everything he can to make sure he doesn't make a mistake. In an effort to say nothing to offend, he ends up saying nothing at all. It's a good strategy if you're ahead. In a lot of ways, he reminds me of Bill Clinton in 1996: Agreeing with opponents, co-opting parts of their ideas when they are obviously attractive, and not taking the bait when he's attacked.

As in the last debate, I thought Kerry Healey was adequate. In fact, I thought she was a little better than last time. That might have been more because Mihos was flailing around and was unable to attack her as he did in the first debate. But I think she was also better at pointing out her difference with Patrick. Because of the order in which the candidates spoke and a format that did not allow them to spar with each other, Healey was able leave her attacks of Patrick unchallenged.

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