4:57pm (All times Mountain) The candidates are walking in, spoiling for a fight. Maybe. I haven’t had time to eat solid food today, but I do have the first of three large (and very strong) vodka martinis in front of me. Let’s have some fun.
5:01 Major candidates talk to La Raza, a Latin separatist group? That’d be a bit like Putin campaigning down in Chechnya. Only, with a lot fewer mortars. I think.
5:03pm I mean, I can see Dennis Kucinich talking to La Raza. Confused, probably, thinking he’s at a Taco Bell. And maybe Ron Paul, because in his world, La Raza is like the Elks, only slightly more anti-Washington. But a Clinton or an Obama? I’m just going to gulp this cocktail.
5:07pm During the Republican debates, I hit my cocktail every time a candidate mentioned Reagan. Tonight, I’m going to take a nice-sized gulp whenever a YouTuber asks “What are you going to do for ME?” Or, any words to that effect. I might not make it through the entire debate.
5:10pm This YouTuber reminds of Chris Matthews, only with more hair and less coherence.
5:12pm I have to admit, Chris Dodd at least looks presidential. Unfortunately, he looks like the president of a midwestern Savings & Loan circa 1990.
5:13pm I mean no disrespect when I say this, but Barrack Obama’s mouth is the same color as Roger Ebert’s, before he lost all that weight. Is he OK?
5:14 Kucinich points out that he’s the only candidate on the stage to have voted against the Iraq War. Which might mean more, had all the other candidates actually been in Congress at the time. Obama, for example, was personally filling potholes for his constituents in Chicago.
5:16 If you can spot movement in Hillary’s forehead, anywhere north of her lower eyelids, actually, then Pajamas Media will pay you $100.00. That’s right, a hundred buckaroos.
5:17 MoveOn.org just got their first plug of the night, as Hillary proclaims herself “a proud progressive.”
5:18pm Mike Gravel pounces! Mike Gravel draws first blood! Mike Gravel is some dude running for President! No really!
5:20 “If I had to run with a Republican, I’d choose Bill Richardson.” That’s the answer Biden should have given.
5:21pm WHOA! “The only way they’re going to give up their power is if we TAKE it from them.” That’s John Edwards, talking about corporate America. That’s also the scariest promise I’ve ever heard a candidate make, since Joe Stalin ran for class President. Of course, Uncle Joe promised to “choke the vice principal with his own entrails,” which I can’t quite picture Edwards doing.
5:23pm “Is African Americans ever gonna get reparations?” Which, of course, leads Edwards into talking about lending practices.
5:24pm Kudos to Obama for taking that last question, and segueing into fixing education.
5:26pm It’s true that Hillary has been asked only one question. I think it’s also true it’s because the producers are afraid of her tight, hiny forehead throwing of the camera’s white balance.
5:27pm Between Dodd and Gravel and Biden, this has already turned into the Great Shouting Debate. Is it something Ron Paul said?
5:29pm “I couldn’t run as anything but a woman.” -Hillary Clinton. Two words come to mind: Sports bra.
5:31pm Edwards was asked about something his wife said, that he’d make a better advocate for women that Hillary. Correct answer: “Yes, you have seen my hair.”
5:33pm It’s been four minutes, at least, since the last question was asked. Think about that, and I think you’ll find it’s a good thing. That candidates, unlike in the Republican debates, are doing something more than talking past each other. They’ve been given some time to engage one another, and I think that’s a plus.
5:34pm A lesbian couple asks, “Would you let us get married – to each other?” Kucinich says yes. I hope all the other candidates feel that way, too. But I’d like just one of them to say, “It’s not my business.”
5:38pm For the most part, it was difficult to tell the Democrats from the Republicans on the gay marriage issue. Sad to say, I think that tells us everything we need to know about how much progress we’ll make on it in the near-future.
5:39pm Well. That didn’t take very long. Excuse me please while I go refill my martini glass.
5:45pm We’re back from cocktail break (me) and commercial break (CNN). And I’ve got to say that, despite my complaints about the candidates and my low opinion of YouTube, this is the best debate I’ve seen all year.
5:47pm “What are you going to do” about Darfour? Richardson says, “It’s diplomacy!” He had a great chance to sound tough AND humanitarian, and he missed it. Badly. He’s now shouting about every issue under the sun, but his first reaction was weak weak weak. Libertarianish hawks like me all just gave up on Poor Richardson.
5:47.5pm Biden, on the other hand, sounds great.
5:48pm “Our sense of global governance,” says Gravel. Which, in the wise case of America, is a bit like talking about my sense of balance right now.
5:52pm We’re in a dead spot, so I’m going to throw one more question out there that I’d like to ask. “It’s 9/11/2001. Airplanes have just flown into buildings, killing thousands. What do you do? Do you take command? Or do you sing ‘God Bless America’ on the Capitol steps, then spend the next six years bitching about the guy who’s trying to do something about it?”
5:53 Barrack Obama could ask that the Senate turn off the A/C to protect the environment, THEN tell the Iraqis that their desert capital is “too hot.”
5:54pm Biden is the first – and only – guy to propose a plan for Iraq. And I think that includes the Republicans, too.
5:55pm The YouTuber question is, “You cowards! Surrender already!” (Close enough. -Ed.) We’ll hear a lot of that as we get closer to Superduperquadruple Tuesday.
5:56pm “The Democrats have failed the American people.” -Dennis Kucinich, 2007. Well, yeah, duh. I could add, “13%, and also ‘duh.'”
5:58pm Of all the candidates, Chris Dodd is certainly the loudest. Also, those people watching in the front row? Every time Dodd speaks, I’ll bet they wish they’d come decked out for a Gallagher show.
5:59pm Of all the candidates, Mike Gravel is certainly the loudest. Etc.
6:00pm Support the troops – tell them they’re suffering in vain. Support morale on the home front, tell them their sons are idiots.
6:01pm Edwards took the “vain” question and answered it with, “No – but…”
6:01.5pm Sometimes I really hate all these guys. Even more than the Republicans. And that’s saying something.
6:04pm At least the Libertarian Party makes sense about the draft. They say, “We’re against it, so we’re against expanding registration.” Democrats seem to be so tied into “fairness,” that expanding an unfair system (the draft) to include women, makes perfect sense to them. Or maybe I’m just drunk.
6:06pm Earlier, a fistfight broke out between Kucinich and Ron Paul, over who got the bottle of medication. It now seems obvious that, whoever the winner was, Gravel stole the bottle from him.
6:09pm John Noonan (of Op-For.com) just reminded me that this debate is being held at The Citadel. Judging by audience response to certain questions, I’d wager you couldn’t find a cadet in that crowd if you shouted, “ten-HUT!”
6:12pm Again, I’ve run out of martini. If you’ll excuse me, I’ll stumble back in two minutes.
6:16pm “I have a comprehensive three point plan to get our troops home.” -Hillary Clinton. Point One: Put troops on ships or plane. Point Two: Fly or ship them home. Point Three: Re-election, baby!
6:18pm Gravel and Kucinich aren’t just competing on volume, they’re competing on who can surrender the fastest. You know what the sad part is? The Kos Kids probably love the shouting. You know what the really sad part is? There isn’t even anybody demanding we surrender. Well, no one outside of Charleston, SC tonight.
6:21pm “Who was your favorite teacher, and why?” Oh, those darn kids!
6:24pm Seriously though, kind of. Who would have guess that Mike Gravel would get more face time (lots more!) than Hillary would? Before the debate, CNN predicted that tonight might be a 7-on-1 anti-Hillary gangbang. Instead, the lady in pink has been damn-near invisible. So much for her Inevitability Field.
6:25pm There was a Special Bonus Double Secret rule, where I’d have to do a shot of tequila if any candidate tonight demanded that a program be repealed. Well. Bill Richardson wants to get rid of NCLB. And I’m going to be so freaking drunk.
6:28pm I have a question for anybody reading this. What is it about some people that makes them apologize (or think they should apologize) for where they send their kids to school?
6:30pm The proper answer to “How are you teaching your kids about sex?” is, “Nunyer damn bidness.”
6:32pm “We’re not going to talk about Al Gore tonight.” Whew – I already watched the Oscars once this year.
6:35pm We’ve swapped out almost every lightbulb in our house for low-energy CFL bulbs. The only ones we haven’t (yet) changed are the ones in the ceiling fans on dimmer switches. So when some YouTuber brags that she’s changed a bulb in her bathroom, I have to ask, “And…?”
6:36pm We may have just watched Hillary’s campaign implode. Not only has she been virtually ignored by the YouTubers, but… When asked “Who took a private jet here tonight?” she raised and lowered her hand up and down like a 15-year-old boy in algebra class. Assuming, of course, that the boy both knew the answer and was trying to hide his Math Class Erection.
6:39pm “Nuclear power? Never heard of it. I also don’t like coal or gas or oil. Now let’s get to work on some alternative energy.:
6:41pm At last, another commercial break. My impression thus far is twofold. 1) YouTube is the future (for now) of presidential debates. 2) I really really really really really really love my martinis. I mean, most people do this sober.
6:45pm American Idol fans can send a real live text message to Dennis Kucinich. Assuming you’re against war and death and poverty and other bad things. Otherwise, the rest of you squares should put down that phone.
6:47pm The Gravel Deal consists of Things Mike Can Shout About. At least that’s what I’m going to walk away with tonight. And little else, but a hangover.
6:48 “So, the minimum wage – who wants to give people money?”
6:49pm I have a follow-up question for Obama. If Social Security is “a floor,” then shouldn’t we means-test it?
6:50pm I don’t want to be mean, or at least not unnecessarily mean. But if a guy shaped liked Richardson wants to bitch about diabetes, then I get to preach about the wonders of sobriety.
6:51pm “Also, I got a parking ticket last week. Could one of you guys pardon me?” The guitar guy just stole the entire debate.
6:53 “Sicko II, Voter Bugaloo.” I see sick people!
6:54pm “Sicko II: The Wrath of Khan.”
6:55pm In all fairness, it took nearly two full hours to get to the “What are you going to do for me?” portion of the debate. With the electronic town hall format we had tonight, I really thought the entire debate would be nothing but “What are you going to do for me?” I’m glad to be wrong on that one, and I think the YouTubers deserve a lot of credit.
6:57pm When are we going to do something about cleft palates? And club foots? Huh?
6:59pm “Does your health care plan cover undocumented workers?” You know what most Americans think? “I hope the hell not!” And that’s coming from a guy who thinks that we need to double, triple, or quintuple (or more) legal immigration.
7:00pm You know all those nice things I’ve said about tonight’s debate format? Before I said them, I didn’t know we’d be going into a third hour.
7:04pm The advantage of real life is, you usually have to hang out for five hours and seven cocktails before people want to debate the existence of God.
7:06pm They’re still talking. The candidates, the YouTubers, and even Anderson Freaking Cooper — they’re all still talking.
7:09pm OK. New idea. I have no problem with a two-plus hour debate. Provided that, starting in hour three, the set becomes a lot more like the last ten minutes of Xanadu.
7:12pm I hope we’re at the end here, because the last question sounds like it came hot of the pages of PerezHilton.com. “Say something catty about the other candidate!”
7:13pm “I think this is a ridiculous exorcize.” Amen, Senator Biden. Amen.
7:14pm “We’ll leave it at that.” Amen, Anderson Cooper. Amen.