Today is another beautiful day in sunny California. On any other Sunday morning at 8:00 A.M. PDT, Iâ€™d be sitting on my porch sipping coffee and perusing last nightâ€™s baseball box scores.
But on this particular day, I am â€?on assignmentâ€?
Specifically, Peter Brimelow has asked me, as one of our editorial collectiveâ€™s Democrats, to watch the debates in Iowa as long as I could do so â€?without throwing up.â€?
Iâ€™m proud that I was able to carry out my task successfully. But it was ugly.
Iâ€™m not much of a Democrat but I do know that the candidates assembled in Iowa—Delaware Sen. Joe Biden
, New York Sen. Hillary Clinton
, Connecticut Sen. Christopher Dodd
, former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards
, former Alaska Sen. Mike Gravel
, Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich
, Illinois Sen. Barack Obama
, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson
,—with their incessant self-promotion and non-stop talk about â€?changeâ€? is an unattractive group.
And the high praise they heaped on each other was revolting, too. I suspect the candidates have something quite different to say about their opponents when they are talking to their pillows.
Two observations that might have bearing: Obama is smoother than I expected. He got off the best line when he said that he prepared for the debate â€?by riding in the bumper cars at the state fair.â€?
And Clinton, who suggested in her opening remarks that she wasnâ€™t quite awake, is shriller than I remembered. Maybe her voice wouldnâ€™t sound so grating at a more civil hour.
The differences in their delivery might bode poorly for Clinton if comes down to a head-to-head match up between Obama and her.
And I hope this doesnâ€™t sound too cynical but I was dismayed at the amount of time the candidates spoke about prayer and what its significance is to them.
Since the current White House occupant has claimed to take his direction from God and to have a special relationship with the Almighty, I would guess that religion might not be a big selling point in 2008. Of course, I could be—and probably am—wrong.
The ABC promo piece promised
that the debate topics would range from â€?from Iraq to health care, from immigration to education.â€?
But in his opening remarks, host George Stephanopoulos
didnâ€™t mention immigration. And with good reason—the subject, which is the top domestic concern of Americans—never came up!
There was a little banter about trade. Clinton, who is all but married to the Indian outsourcing firm Tata Consulting Services
, said with a straight face that she wants to â€?follow a pro-America trade policy.â€?
Her remark should have brought the house down but disappointingly it sailed over everyoneâ€™s head.
And education got the usual gloss-over: too many kids not graduating from high schoolâ€¦but no mention that they are predominantly Hispanic kids.
The good news for the Democrats—but not for Americans— is that whoever emerges from among these sad-sack candidates will face an equally sorry contender from the Republican side.