Posts Tagged ‘Debates’

Big Difference in Four Years

Thursday, September 24th, 2009

When I watched the televised mayoral debate four years ago, I couldn’t help but notice how more polished in front of the camera Mayor Marty Chavez was than his opponents at the time. Back then, he knew that the audience that counted was made up of those watching the debate on small screens from the comfort of their homes. In other words, he talked to the camera; whereas, his opponents were talking to the moderators.

Surprisingly, this was not the case in last night’s debate.

Both Richard Romero and RJ Berry gave more polished and comfortable performances last night than the incumbent mayor. And, let’s face it, that’s what we’re talking about in televised debates – performances. Whereas Mayor Chavez spent most of the night avoiding looking directly at the camera and struggling to defend his record, Richard Romero and RJ Berry looked comfortable, prepared and forward looking.

Watch the video, and you’ll see what I mean. The incumbent mayor spends way more time than his opponents speaking to the moderators. At times, he also seems to be thinly veiling his anger at being held accountable for his fiscally unsound management of the city over all of these years.

Bottom line, last night’s debate didn’t nothing to help the Mayor’s campaign. For those of us who have had enough of politics as usual, it showed that there are more qualified candidates for the leadership position.

Martin Heinrich Blew It

Thursday, October 23rd, 2008

A lot of last night’s televised debate on KOB-TV between former City Councilor Martin Heinrich and Bernalillo County Sheriff Darren White for the 1st Congressional covered familiar ground and campaign tazlking points. However, Darren White hammered one point home that will really hurt Martin Heinrich going into this final stretch of the election.

Darren truthly pointed out over and over again that Martin Heinrich was the only candidate running for federal office in New Mexico who did not state a position on the bailout when questioned by the Albuquerque Journal.

Martin Heinrich Democrat Did not say if he would have voted for or against bill, but criticized it.

This fact, more than any other, demonstrates that Martin Heinrich is not ready to represent us in Congress. The biggest economic crisis to face our country since the Great Depression, and Heinrich dodges the question by refusing to take a position – UNACCEPTABLE.

A Change in America

Friday, October 3rd, 2008

I have to admit. I have yet to catch a debate in real time – various obligations have outweighed the desire to watch the debate each time. Usually, I’ve caught them a couple of days after the fact online. Last night was no exception. Although this time, I DVR’d it and watched a couple of hours after the fact.

Why am I prefacing this post with all of this? Because I think it important to note the importance of this change in how we get our information. Sure, people have been talking for years about the time shifting that is occurring in viewing habits, but I think this will be the first Presidential election where the full impact of this change will be felt.

Do I feel inundated by political campaign commercials this season? No. I don’t watch them, or at least not more than once (usually viewed online). On those rare occasions when I watch a television program, it is, like last night’s debate, according to my own schedule with my finger firmly pressed on fast forward during those commercial breaks.

This option is being taken advantage of by more and more Americans each and every day. If you’re like me, you didn’t catch the Katie Couric interviews of Governor Palin live, but sought them out after hearing how poorly she did in order to see the soundbites in their context. The same is true for Tina Fey’s Saturday night depictions of the Alaska Governor. I haven’t watched Saturday Night Live since my teenage years. Sitting through all of the mediocre skits to see that one good one just isn’t my idea of entertainment. But, the internet may just give Saturday Night Live a relevance for a whole new generation.

So, keeping all of this in mind, a couple of thoughts on last night’s debate between Senator Joe Biden and Governor Sarah Palin. First, the good news – I found them both to be very likable. Senator Biden’s knowledge of the world stage made something very clear. He has been a working Senator, and he had one of my favorite observations of the night:

Mike Mansfield, a former leader of the Senate, said to me one day — he — I made a criticism of Jesse Helms. He said, “What would you do if I told you Jesse Helms and Dot Helms had adopted a child who had braces and was in real need?” I said, “I’d feel like a jerk.”

He said, “Joe, understand one thing. Everyone’s sent here for a reason, because there’s something in them that their folks like. Don’t question their motive.”

I have never since that moment in my first year questioned the motive of another member of the Congress or Senate with whom I’ve disagreed. I’ve questioned their judgment.

I have quite a few politically active friends on both sides of the aisle, and I can’t tell you how true this is. The vast majority of those representing us (and working to elect them) are good people. Their hearts and intentions are in the right place. I found it interesting that a very similar comment was made be Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) in his recent floor speech against the bailout:

Mr. President, I have friends and colleagues whom I respect deeply who are on all sides of this bailout issue. One of them just spoke. We all to want do what is right for America, and I believe those who have crafted this plan had pure and noble motives. They want this country to succeed. They want prosperity. I just do not believe that this bill gets the job done. In fact, in the long term, I am convinced it will do more harm than good.

Sometimes its too easy to forget that most people are good people – although there are definitely some bad apples in the process. Both Senator Biden and Governor Palin are clearly good apples. But, there is a fundamental difference between the two. Governor Palin truly represents the future and Senator Biden the past. For all of his talk of change, Senator Obama could not have made a worse choice than Senator Biden to be his running mate. Not because Senator Biden is a bad or incapable person – I don’t believe either is true, but because this is Senator Biden’s last hurrah.

Assuming that change is really what we need, and I believe all indicators support that, the Obama campaign brings a big pink elephant into the room. The fundamental effects of change through a Democratic process are not felt in four years – maybe, not even in eight. So, if Senator Obama is elected at the end of the day where is his succession plan? The answer: He doesn’t have one.

On the flip side, Governor Palin last night made it very clear that she is the symbol for the succession plan for the Republican Party – something we have been sorely lacking. She has exactly the type of keep it real and get back to bascis philosophy we need. As David Brooks fairly notes, Governor Palin’s personal charm would not have worked well in the past:

Their primal need for political survival having been satisfied, her supporters then looked for her to shift the momentum. And here we come to the interesting cultural question posed by her performance. The presidency and the vice presidency once was the preserve of white men in suits. As the historian Ellen Fitzpatrick pointed out on PBS Thursday night, if, in 1984, Geraldine Ferraro had spoken in the relentlessly folksy tones that Palin used, she would have been hounded out of politics as fundamentally unserious.

But that was before casual Fridays, boxers or briefs and T-shirt-clad Silicon Valley executives. Today, Palin can hit those colloquial notes again and again, and it is not automatically disqualifying.

But, it is not the past that concerns us. It is the future, and for our future Sarah Palin showed last night why she fits the bill perfectly. Is she an expert on all of the issues? No. But, this is where a knowledge of business is critical. The most successful CEO’s in America know that they don’t have to be the smartest person in the room. They need to surround themselves with those people, and then make an “executive decision” based on the facts those people present.

Some you may say that’s how President Bush was sold to us. Unfortunately, President Bush has one fatal flaw as a great executive, and it is not his motivation or ethics. It is his loyalty. Time and time again, he kept people in jobs when they should have been transitioned out.

Now, let’s bring this full circle. Who won last night’s debate? Governor Sarah Palin won. She won because she was the one with the most to lose. The biggest question America had regarding Sarah Palin is can she hold her own, and the answer last night was a resounding yes. Is she more knowledgeable than Senator Biden? No. Considering the age and experience gap, Senator Biden would have to be a fool for that to be true, and Biden is not.

However, Biden is no longer running for President. Barack Obama is. And, like Sarah Palin, Senator Obama is a very capable person, but a person who needs a few more years of on the job training before moving into the position of the presidency. In fact, in many ways, Obama is less prepared than Governor Sarah Palin to lead.

There is a change needed in America. The cultural change has already occured, and in my humble opinion, Governor Sarah Palin demonstrated last night why the McCain/Plain ticket is the embodiement of that change, and the Obama.Biden ticket is not.

Why is Tom Udall Afraid of an Energy Debate?

Thursday, July 3rd, 2008

I don’t get it. Congressman Steve Pearce challenges Congressman Tom Udall to an energy debate, and Tom Udall runs away from the challenge? (subscription):

With gas at $4 and the energy crunch a topic of daily conversation, Steve Pearce says it’s high time for him and Tom Udall to debate energy issues in their U.S. Senate race.

Udall says it’s too early, but his supporters already are hounding Pearce on the same subject.

An environmental group backing Udall has a rolling billboard of sorts — a Toyota hybrid — portraying Pearce as a poster boy for big oil.

This debate should be a no brainer for Congressman Udall. Prices at the pump are at $4 and rising. Tom Udall and his backers believe that oil companies are to blame, and that alternative sources of energy are the solution to the economic pinch everyday Americans are feeling at pump.

This should be a topic on which Tom Udall should feel confident about debating Steve Pearce any and every day of the week. After all, Mr. Udall comes from a long family tradition of environmental conservationists and has been able to capitalize on his father’s name to achieve political success. Sometimes people forget that, like others, he is from one of those dynastic political families – think Lujan, Block, and yes, Bush.

By contrast, Steve Pearce worked his way up from very humble beginnings in the oil fields of Southeastern New Mexico to achieve the American Dream. A self-made man for whom public service has always been a way to give back to a country that has given him so many opportunities.

Steve is not known as a great orator or debater. He is just a regular guy who has worked hard, served in the military, built a business and speaks frankly from the heart. In any debate Steve is going to be at a distinct disadvantage against Mr. Udall’s polished debate skills – honed over decades as a lawyer.

I’m sure in any energy debate, Tom Udall would be successful in portraying Steve Pearce as the poster child for the New Mexico oil and gas industry. Udall would probably point out that if it were not for the opportunities presented by the oil and gas industry, Steve Pearce would have never pulled himself out of poverty. Instead, he would have remained struggling and poor in Southern New Mexico and politics would be properly left to the political families – handed down from father to son in true monarch fashion.

Undoubtedly, Tom Udall would point out all that the oil and gas industry has taken from the state of New Mexico and its residents:

The industry provides New Mexico schools, roads and public facilities with more than $1.3 billion in funding each year. It is the state’s largest civilian employer. Each night, 23,000 New Mexicans come home to their families from jobs related to the oil and gas industry.

It is the state’s leading educational supporter and provides over 90% of all school capital investment through the Permanent Fund, saving New Mexico’s taxpayers an excess of $800 annually. The oil and gas industry also makes up 15-20% of New Mexico’s General Fund revenues. These are distributed to public schools and state colleges, fund the construction of public roads, buildings and state parks, and help keep New Mexico’s government operational.

Yes, I’m sure that Steve Pearce would be left mouth agape and without response as Tom Udall heaped attack after attack on Steve’s connections with such a destructive industry operating within our borders.

Then, Tom Udall would undoubtedly go in for the kill. Tom would point out that if New Mexicans were to elect Steve Pearce to U.S. Senate, Steve would most assuredly continue in the tradition of Senator Pete Domenici in an unabashed effort to allow more domestic oil and gas exploration.

Sensing imminent victory, Tom Udall would then put the final nail in the coffin of Steve Pearce’s candidacy for U.S. Senate by unveiling two damning photos that show the success achieved by Tom Udall and the environmental groups which support him in preventing more domestic drilling.

The first would be a picture of Dubai in 1990, when we believed drilling for oil and gas in America was still a good thing:

The second would be a photo of the same street in Dubai taken in 2003 after Tom Udall and his friends have successfully fought the continued exploration for domestic oil and gas:

Based on this scenario and its inevitable outcome, I don’t understand why Tom Udall is afraid of participating in an energy debate.

Debate Brings Character Flaw to Light

Monday, January 28th, 2008

I had wanted to see the first debate between the Republican candidates for the 1st Congressional District, Bernalillo County Sheriff Darren White and State Senator Joe Carraro, but both my kids had early basketball games and politics takes a backseat to family commitments.

Based on news reports, it looks like the most controversial part of the debate occurred before the candidates ever took the stage:

A Republican candidate for Congress objected publicly Saturday when the organizer of a county GOP forum that he and another Republican congressional candidate attended was closed to the media.

“It’s a public meeting between two candidates for public office in a public place and it’s closed to the media. What are you afraid of?” State Sen. Joe Carraro, who is seeking the GOP nomination in the 1st District, said after the meeting. “It needs to be transparent. We need to not go behind closed doors.”

The Republican Party of Bernalillo County sponsored the meeting, which was attended mostly by GOP volunteers and activists and was held at an Albuquerque restaurant.

Ok, normally I would be the first one to agree that all debates by candidates for public office should be open. But, here is the thing. According to the meeting organizer, former State Representative Rory Ogle, both candidates agreed to a “no press” rule:

Ogle said he talked personally with Carraro and White about the rules ahead of time. Carraro denied that he agreed to closing the meeting ahead of time.

Sorry Senator Carraro you’re lacking a bit of credibility here. I personally know all three parties involved and only the Senator’s story rings untrue. If Senator Carraro had truly objected to the closed meeting ahead of time, he had ample opportunity to raise that objection long before that meeting took place.

Instead, he waited until the morning of the event to try and leverage some earned media by playing the part of the injured party and defender of open government. The problem is that no one is going to believe that Sheriff Darren White, a former news reporter who has never shied away from a little camera time, was personally against press attending the event. Plus, meeting organizer, Rory Ogle, had absolutely no reason to lie.

Senator Carraro’s antics leave much to be desired and raise serious ethical questions regarding his personal integrity and character.

Disclaimer: I have made a financial contribution to Darren White’s campaign.

Off to a Great Start

Tuesday, December 4th, 2007

Sometimes you read something, and you can’t help but shake your head in amazement (subscription):

During the first meeting of Albuquerque’s new City Council on Monday, four members refused to attend because of a squabble over who should be president.

Don Harris, Sally Mayer, Ken Sanchez and new Councilor Trudy Jones boycotted the meeting. They met at Capo’s restaurant, about three blocks away, and held a news conference later at City Hall.

In their absence, the council elected Brad Winter to serve as president for the next year.

Hmm, last I checked a Council is supposed to be a deliberative legislative body. Usually, deliberation requires people to be in the room. If the liberals on the Council are able to make the others run off and lick their wounds so easily, we are in for a LONG year. I’m agreeing with the Eye on this one.

Governor Richardson’s Blatant PR Move

Wednesday, June 6th, 2007

Maybe I’m missing something, but a U.S. Presidential Debate in Spanish (subscription)?

Democratic presidential hopeful Bill Richardson has agreed to participate in a candidate debate in September that’s to be conducted in Spanish.

Univision Communications Inc., the nation’s largest Spanish-language broadcaster, has invited candidates to a debate planned Sept. 9 at the University of Miami.

“Latinos are the fastest-growing segment of our population and this is a unique chance for all of the candidates to hear and address the concerns and priorities of this important constituency,” Richardson said in a statement on Wednesday.

Richardson, who is fluent in Spanish, is the nation’s only Hispanic governor. He was born in California, but spent his early childhood in Mexico City.

Exactly, who is Richardson supposed to debate in Spanish? Folks this is absurd. Now mind you, Spanish is my father’s native language, so I’m not one of these people who think there is something wrong with people speaking more than one language in the U.S.; however, a Spanish language Presidential debate in the U.S. is absurd. It makes as much sense as Rep. Tom Tancredo’s posturing last night in the Republican debate that we should close the borders to all immigrants, legal or not.

Hooked on Politics

Tuesday, June 5th, 2007

Even the politically addicted have their limits, and I’ve found mine. Watching debates between ten candidates from beginning to end is just… well, tedious. You know that when the moderator announces that everyone has 60 seconds to answer questions, you’re in for two hours of pointless banter.

Granted, some of the candidates look better than others making their points, but did anyone really say anything of substance? I don’t think so.

Sound bites and more sound bites. There has got to be a better way to do this.

Democratic Debate in Manchester

Monday, June 4th, 2007

Steve Terrell has blogged the Manchester debate between the Democratic candidates for President, and here is the money line as far as I’m concerned:

8:47 PM EDT: Richardson brags that he’s balanced five state budgets. This drives New Mexico reporters nuts! He has to balance the budget according to the state constitution. There’s no option.

Yup, that about sums it up in a nutshell. Bill Richardson’s biggest accomplishments as Governor of the State of New Mexico has been to do the things he is constitutionally mandated to do.