Thursday, October 26, 2006

Hodes and Bass Debate

I'm going to shock all of y'all and say that Paul Hodes won tonight's televised debate. (As Yankee Doodler says in his post on the debate, "Well, what did you think I would say?") But I do believe this to be whatever passes for objectively true, as measured by the number of times Charlie Bass seemed at a loss for words and the number of occasions on which he used a significant amount of his time to return to a previous question.

This flusteredness is put into context by the Evans-Novak Political Report, which says (passages both bolded and italicized are emphasized by me; plain bold appears in the original)
New Hampshire-2: Here's a surprise. No one expected Rep. Charlie Bass (R) to fall behind late in the game, but that's where he is. Bass appears to have been caught off his guard. He has been outraised by his repeat opponent, Paul Hodes, whom he defeated by 20 points in 2004. Republicans complain about Bass's lacksidaisical staffers and discuss the possible loss of his Northern New Hampshire seat. Bass's get-out-the-vote effort is extremely disorganized. He is also upsetting his base with ads that brought his pro-abortion stance into the race and that distance himself from the Republican Party.

It is unclear whether Bass can be saved in time. He just started a huge phone drive Tuesday to save his seat, and some Republicans remain hopeful that he can bounce back by November 7. Leaning Democratic Takeover.
Bass is running a sloppy effort, and that's being remarked on by his own partisans. Whether he's sloppy because he's been knocked off his game by Hodes' challenge, or whether he never had any game to begin with and is currently flustered because he never expected to get in trouble for that, his petulant, disorganized debate performance is clearly indicative of a broader or deeper phenomenon.

In other debate news, Yankee Doodler deserves a major hat tip for providing the material for Hodes' first question to Bass, on why Bass was so aggressive in demanding accountability for the successful military action in Kosovo, only to be a consistent yes-man for Bush's failed Iraq policy. It is simply amazing the impact a set of really very small blogs have had on this race. We all know, of course, that much of that impact wouldn't have happened without an interested, illicitly participatory Bass staff, but I think that the degree to which the Hodes campaign has been attentive and responsive, making judicious use of what we provide without playing to it overly much, has been somewhat underestimated. So huge credit to Yankee Doodler for the find, and credit also to the Hodes campaign for seeing it for what it was and using it to effect.


Blogger -epm said...

I said it before and I'm sure I'll say it again; Bass comes off as a sputtering, mechanical, party line, talking point generator. Hodes seems thoughtful, even tempered, comfortable in his own skin, and full of new ideas. Where Bass is seems stuck in 2002-2003, Hodes is looking forward. While Bass rattles off numbers, percentages and statistics (tax cuts, education funding, MediCare) that make the eyes of even this seasoned elector glaze over, Hodes is talking about the real effects of the Bush-Bass agenda on small business, college students, the working class and the elderly.

Bass just seems out of touch with what it means to be a "servant of the people."

10:08 AM  
Blogger cliffnh said...

Here is another question I wish Paul, other democrats and the press would press with the "stay the course" crowd: just who is the enemy in Iraq? How do you define victory, and how do we know when we have won? The generals are now saying that al Qaeda and other foreign fighters represent about 2% of the insurgents. So 98% are the people of Iraq fighting each other. Is "completing the mission" defined by eliminating the al Qaeda factor, or is it 98% defined by stopping the sectarian violence? If the latter, are we trying to help defeat the Sunnis who tend less toward radical Islam? Or the Shia, who dominate the government we support but also tend to support Hezbollah and Iran? If much of the violence comes from Shia militia, but those militia are really allied with the Interior Ministry, is victory defined by defeating the government's own allied forces? If we allowed the Shia to eliminate any Sunni power, and suppress al Qaeda, and cuddle up to Iran, or even forge a theocratic Islamic republic, would that be victory? If the goal is just survival of an elected government, isn’t the fastest way to achieve that to just pull out and support the Shia government with arms so they can suppress everyone else? We know from the surveys and common sense that they would be strongly anti-al Qaeda. Is Bush arguing that somehow these two factions can be persuaded to kiss and make up? Do they think that can be achieved by our military action?

This is a serious question that I would love to debate with someone on the other side -- just what is their idea of victory? Who is left standing?

4:57 PM  

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