First impressions of the Democratic party’s presidential candidates on parade: they’re all fine, and there is absolutely no reason to consider this a two-person or three-person race at this point.
John Edwards got the most votes in a well-attended Daily Kos poll, and I agree with this result. The blow-dried southerner appears serious, unflappable and appropriately angry about the current state of things. Another candidate who made a good impression on me is New Mexico’s Bill Richardson, more for his earnest body language and focused message than anything else.
Hillary Clinton did just fine, and I have no doubt that she’d be a hardworking, intensely practical President. I admire her very much for her courage and positive attitude. However, she has yet to prove that she can raise voters’ passions as well as she can raise funds, that she can appeal to outsiders as well as knowledgeable insiders, and it’s starting to seem clear that her stiff public persona remains a barrier to her electability.
As for Barack Obama, I’m sorry but I’m still not on this bandwagon at all. His performance last night was mechanical and safe, and I really, really, really don’t care that he has a Kennedy-esque mystique. In fact, I am more and more offended by the idea that anybody should consider this candidate a front-runner just based on his good looks and charisma. He did not particularly distinguish himself in last night’s debate, which adds to my impression that the buzz-to-substance ratio is too high here. Obama cerrtainly has a right to press his candidacy along with the rest of this pack, and there’s still plenty of time for him to win me over. But he’s not going to do it by standing there looking handsome, and I’m sorry to say that seemed to be his core strategy during the debate.
Of course I like Dennis Kucinich, and I’m glad to see him on this stage, just as I’m glad to see him working hard on various fronts in Congress. Kucinich would have been the evening’s designated oddball candidate if Alaska’s Mike Gravel were not there to play the angry clown. Gravel’s just fine, but he’s not going to be our next President.
Chris Dodd is running? I missed that press release. I don’t see him playing much of a role in this election, nor Joe Biden, but maybe I’ll turn out to be wrong.
One final thought: regardless of which of these politicians wins the nomination, they are all doing good work on behalf of significant causes. I’m glad they’re all around, from the staid Dodd to the blustering Gravel, and the only thing that would disappoint me now is if the party were to begin to converge on a front-runner too early. We’ve got a lot more debating to do.
Oh, finally: this stuff is pretty good.