I posted this over at Purple Wisconsin:
Suppose they gave a US Senate debate and the format was so stifling you wouldn't watch the next one?
That precisely describes last night's first-of-three televised
'joint appearances' with US Rep. Tammy Baldwin, (D), and former
Governor Tommy Thompson, (R) - - and, yes, I did my due diligence and
live-blogged it, here -
- but without cross-talking and immediate responses, or tough,
researched questions, The Friday night show was more a pair of
interviews that could have been conducted in separate studios.
So - - no surprise that there were no surprises - - or bombshells or strong blows landed or revealing flubs or truly memorable lines - - so I'm left with a few impressions.
* Tommy was the more animated of the candidates, but he spent way too much time stating and repeating and repeating what he did when he was Governor - - he left office in early 2001- - which was a long time ago, and more importantly, in a far different era economically when a rising tide temporarily lifted all boats - - along with the job creation totals in Wisconsin he kept touting, too.
And while you might say, "well, that's just Tommy," he displayed an irritating grandiosity about things in the past that were clearly team efforts - - "I built Wisconsin...I built a hospital..."and so on.
* As for Baldwin: she answered questions more directly without bombast or references to the past than did Tommy and struck me as more current on issues.
She spoke passionately about the value of Social Security in the context of its value to the grandparents who raised her, but on other issues she was more cerebral and measured than emotional.
I don't know Baldwin well enough to know if that is simply who she is, or if she needed to present herself to viewers who might have been seeing her for the first time as cool, calm and collected to avoid the trapping, no-win allegation of 'look at that emotional woman' that can bedevil strong female candidates.
US Sen. Claire McCaskill in Missouri is feeling some of that from her male opponent, the disgraced Rep. Todd (Legitimate Rapes) Akin, and Karl Rove's SuperPac has put up an ad playing on the same double-standard in Wisconsin that shows Baldwin making a strong speech and using the words "damn right!"
But after watching and blogging and thinking about it, I have to grade Tommy down.
He laughed inappropriately or smiled insincerely when Tammy was speaking, or in response to her: I thought it was openly condescending. Also condescending to viewers is the canard that he's just a Wisconsin farmer who never left the state. Stop, please.
He also seemed to be on unsteady ground when talking about how "The Army Corps of The [Sic] Engineers should go about keeping asian carp out of the Great Lakes, and twice referred to Iranian president Ahmadinejad as Ahmadinejohn. These things hit your ear, grate and raise questions. Does he know the facts, and why does he stumble over them?
And when discussing energy options, he repeated a conservative meme about how oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge would have as little impact on the environment there as putting a postage stamp on a football field.
That's where he lost me, this new, less-substantial Tommy continually off too far to the Right.
The myth of environmentally-neutral drilling in ANWR is oil industry propaganda. It principally focuses on the square footage taken up by drilling pads and a few ancillary items, but not, for example, the presence of machinery trucked in to set up well fields, and the infrastructure like roads.
And it distracts from what it would take to get to and repair broken pipes and clean up spills. Postage stamp on a football field? Don't condescend us.
Baldwin talked about greener energy alternatives, so, again, I credit her with having a greater command of of the issues, this being 2012.
So - - the winner is Tammy Baldwin, by a TKO, on points - - for the uninitiated, that is is a boxing reference (a technical knock out, rather than literally counted out "1...10") - - and I base my decision on her preparation, level-headedness, grasp of contemporary matters and more consistently looking forward, not backwards.
I think viewers saw her as a competent Senator-in-waiting.
Tommy - - well, he should stick to that private-sector consulting and schmoozing.
He told us tonight that he does a lot of living in the past.
Reminiscence doesn't lead.
And if the next two so-called debates are set up and managed like this one - - and I mean this - - call them off and let the candidates go meet some voters or raise some money so we and they can do something more productive with the time.
Saturday, September 29, 2012
I posted this over at Purple Wisconsin: