This is the website of Abulsme Noibatno Itramne (also known as Sam Minter). Comments here or emails to me at abulsme@abulsme.com are encouraged... or follow me on Twitter as @abulsme.

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January 2008
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Disappointing Dems

There were a few moments, but for the most part the Dem debate was nowhere near as interesting as the Republicans. Whereas the Republicans were very much interacting directly with each other, even when the Dems were talking directly about each other, for the most part they seemed to be talking to the audience or the moderator, not REALLY talking to each other. Although it lightened up later, it seemed like all four of them spent the first half of the debate or so trying to avoid eye contact with each other.

A lot less of it seemed to be spontaneous. They all got in their prepared lines. I heard lots of things which I had heard verbatim previously in other debates or speeches. That was disappointing.

It was amusing to watch all four of them try to claim the “change” mantle.

Don’t get me wrong, there were a few fireworks that were interesting. But it was a very different kind than on the Republican side. And the tension between them (well, maybe not Richardson) was much higher. You could just feel the antipathy. And there was less dynamic back and forth that seemed like actual conversations. Just talking past each other and a few attacks and parries.

I’m not sure how much either of these debates will change anything for Tuesday’s vote. I don’t think there were any clear knockouts on either party.

Now I’ll have to spend some time into reading other people’s reactions (I waited until I was done watching). Then sleep. It is past my bedtime and I have a podcast to record in the morning.

Together

I *so* wanted to be able to hear what they were saying to each other when the Democrats and Republicans were on stage at the same time… which, by the way, was a great touch.

As for the rest of the Republican debate, I think it would have been even better if the whole thing had had the format of the first half. But even with the supposed rules in the second half, Gibson stood back and barely enforced them. It was also very good.

Definitely the best debate in either party so far by a long ways.

And Ron Paul can certainly not complain about the amount of attention he got. He got a LOT in. I’m not sure if they were in some way trying to make up for him being excluded tomorrow, but either way, he got a lot of good time. He didn’t always make the best use of it, but he certainly had the time.

How a Debate Should Be

At this point I’ve only watched the first hour out of the four hours of debate tonight. And only about 45 minutes of it was actually debate. And this is of course only the Republicans, the Democrats come later.

But I’ll say right now that the format for this first 45 minutes… Very few interruptions from the moderator, just occasional questions to get conversation started… and a lot of interaction between the candidates… and long form answers without buzzers or time limits… this is by far the most substantive and informative debate I have seen so far this election cycle. And at this point I have watched ALL of them. 17 Democratic debates and 14 Republican debates. Most of them sucked. Most of them just let the candidates make little speeches, or posture for the sound bites.

In this one I’ve seen the candidates interact with each other in a far more natural way. And I’ve seen them have the chance to spend several minutes explaining themselves, and then ask questions of each other, which were then answered in turn. There were some chaotic moments at times, but even then one learned something.

I gather the rest of the Republican debate will not have this same format. That is a shame. This is how all debates should be. I look forward to seeing the Democrats in the same sort of format once I watch the rest of the Republican debate.

I just needed to go ahead and post this now, because I was somewhat dumbfounded that, for once, I was actually seeing a real debate with some real content too it where I actually had the possibility of learning something new about the candidates.

3 hour delay aside, good job ABC and Charles Gibson. Bravo.