The local CBS affiliate in Seattle didn't elect to show the Democratic debate this morning, so I've only seen the transcript
and a couple of print reports. It's always hard to tell without the benefit of visuals and vocal inflection, but the impression is that it was a bit fiestier than the California debate.
Sometimes it's better, though, to view these things through the more dispassionate lens provided by text. While Edwards has been described in the reporting as having gone on the offensive, it would appear that Kerry landed some solid body blows against Edwards' 'outsider' claims and newfound protectionism, the theme that has become a bigger part of his pitch every week.
For example, when Edwards was offered the chance to pose a direct question to Kerry, he tried to throw a fastball, but Kerry tagged it with the sweet spot of the bat, as far as I can tell. Here's the exchange...
: "My question is, do you believe we're going to change this country out of Washington, D.C.?"
: "Yes, because that's where the Congress of the United States is, and that's where 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is. And the answer is, we're going to need a president who has the experience and the proven ability -- proven ability -- to be able to stand up and take on tough fights.
Now, I just listened to John talk about Washington, D.C. Last time I looked, John ran for the United States Senate, and he's been in the Senate for the last five years. That seems to me to be Washington, D.C."
Maybe, just maybe, spending $6 million on a US Senate seat isn't the best way to establish 'outsider' credentials in the political arena.
On the protectionist angle, Kerry went straight at Edwards.
: "On trade, there is no difference between what John Edwards would do today and what I would do today. And to listen to John try to carve out this -- what I think is sort of a protectionist point of view in the past, actually is not documented by the record. John Edwards has been in the Senate for five years. He's talked more in the last five weeks about trade than he has in the entire five years.
The fact is that he didn't vote in the 1994 election when he had a chance to vote about trade. He didn't talk about it, against it, in his election in 1998 when he ran for the Senate. And he went to The New York Times last week and said that he thought that NAFTA, in fact, was good for the prosperity of our country."
Edwards' response was essentially 'We are so different!" To which I can only reply, "Are not!"
I have to admit, too, that in print, at least, Dennis Kucinich came off worse than I have generally found in previous debates, particularly when he expressed his view that neither Kerry nor Edwards "... would be appropriate as nominees." In Kuchich's view, this should be a single issue election on the Iraq war, which would disqualify anyone who voted 'aye' on the October, 2002 resolution authorizing force. I like Dennis a lot when he's a forthright advocate for a full employment economy and single payer health care. I like him a lot less when he tries to narrow the range of the party to a level that spells sure defeat.
There was one statement from Kerry that I hadn't heard before, and that I think represents real progress. During the discussion of marriage rights v. civil unions, he said, in reference to gay and lesbian relationships, " I believe they deserve all the rights, all the support, all the love, all the affection, all of the rights that the state can afford. That's why I am for civil union. That's why I'm for partnership rights. That's why I'm for even the federal extension, with respect to tax code and other rights
." (my emphasis) That's the first time I've heard him express support for federal protection of those rights. There's still the 'full faith and credit' question to be dealt with, but Kerry has taken as bold a position on the issue as I think is electorally possible at this point.
At any rate, those are the impressions I got from the transcript. Did you see it? What did you think?