I watched on CSPAN the Democratic presidential nominees tonite at the AFL-CIO presidential forum. This was the first time that I was actually impressed with all of them. Even Kucinich, Braun and Sharpton were making sense with specific policy aims.
Here's my assessment:
John Kerry--It is clear that he believes that the nomination is his to lose. he seemed very confident and it is clear that he is the most substantive of all the candidates. He didn't dissappoint, but showed that his formidable resume counts for something. I thought he had the best line of the night when he said that Bush' giveaways to the wealthy is trickle down economics and the American people are tired of being trickled on. Kerry clearly felt as though he were a true presidential candidate. he frequently spoke beyond his allotted time and was not intimidate by the calls to cease his remarks.
Howard Dean--Dean's feistiness reminds me of Bush during his campaign. Dean was solid, exciting and was as advertised. The problem is that he is not smooth and he relies too much on his head. The problem is that if you are not Bill Clinton, ultra-smooth, then you appear disorganized if you ramble from the head. I thought he present himself well and presidential.
Dick Gephardt--Gephardt, besides the two mentioned above, was the only other one who appeared presidential, in terms of confidence and presence. I guess because he is very comfortable among Unions. He certainly felt at home as he pitched his ideas to the type of people who would most likely buy them.
Kucinich, I think, scored major points. He clearly made himself the darling of the Unions and the left. I was impressed by his fiestiness and apparent political deftness. It is clear that he has received a boost from Nader and his musician friends.
Graham was lackluster. He called Sammy Sosa, "Sammy Sosha." He was not smooth, he lacked the confidence needed, except when he was in his element on homeland security. He would be a great asset to any administration. I hope he accepts such an invitation.
Liebermann--I've written him off. There really is no difference between him and Bush. He is what Bush with common sense should be. He also lacks presence and personality and still has to prove that he won't be a mouthpiece for the kenneset (sp?) Ironically, Jewish voters are said to prefer Dean, whose wife is Jewish, and Kerry, whose dad or someone in his family is Jewish. The problem with Liebermann is that I've heard him use the exact words that Ariel Sharon used in a speech on "dismantling the infrastructure of terrorism." That was a red flag. He needs to distinguish himself as independent and also from the others, how? I have no idea.
John Edwards was the most surprising. He was definitely ill-at-ease except for one great moment when he smiled and relaxed and turned on the southern charm. He was shallow on specifics in terms of substantive policies. He really doesn't seem ready for the big time. I think one more term in the Senate and he'll have the fluidity on the big issues.
Sharpton was, as usual, the most exciting and I was pleasantly surpised to hear him talk substantive policy. For instance, on health care, he pointed out that 25 percent of pharmaceutical costs go to adminsitration and marketing and if we had a guaranteed single payer system, then that would elimiated the need for marketing, which would bring costs down. Pretty clever.
Carol Mosley-Baun also was quite good. It is clear that she is auditioning and I think that she has acquitted herself very well. She is championing the cause of women in this Demcratic field. I like her health care ideas.
Gephardt and Dean will never win the Southern states, which is why I pray they don't win the nomination. Gephardt believes that it is the midwestern states that are the swing states, and that's where he can deliver. I still don't buy it. Dean, I don't think, will jive well with the South. He is too brusque and elitist.
I feel that Kerry is the only one with a shot at the South. He has the impressive resume that transcends region. Also he was a Vietnam Vet. Now, this is an elite tea-cup type, who went to Yale and could have weaseled out of Vietnam, but the man signed up and took the bullets. You have to respect a man like that. I think his war experience will give him credibilty in the South. It is similar to JFK who fought in the war, admirably. You have to respect a man like that. The other factor about the south is that Bush will bring voters out of the woodwork, who hate him enough to vote for the other person. I also think that Bill Clinton can deliver Arkansas for him. There's a shot at Oklahoma. South Carolina should not be ruled out. Florida is a definite possibility. Well, we'll see.