Wednesday, August 08, 2007

ANOTHER DAMN DEBATE. There was something nicely old-fashioned about the Big Labor debate for Dems: local t-shirts, crappy sound, folks shouting "louder!" and who knows what else off mike, booing, and some fun pandering contests over who was on the picket lines when it counted.

But old-fashionedness and even pandering only go so far at present, and the AFL-CIO has declined to make an early endorsement, which was never likely but obviously hoped for by Biden, Dodd, and Edwards, who fought for it as if for life itself -- and for at least two of their campaigns it might well have been. Dodd in particular, in his green tie, subtly enhanced Irish accent, and booming tones, looked to be angling for the Labor endorsement for 1952. His alderman at the picnic routine didn't go, though, and I can't imagine how he'll hang in; Biden, whom I still think is running for Secretary of State, will just keep it up till the tank runs dry, as will Edwards, who has more fuel and a chance of being remembered when people get nervous about Clinton.

It's too early for most of the rest of us, too, so the most important part of the exercise might have been the continuing education of Barack Obama. Callow though he may be, he certainly didn't wilt under questioning on his Pakistan remarks. Maybe controversy suits his cause; maybe he benefits from stirring things up and drawing his opponents into something resembling actual debate. Or maybe it only works when the controversy is actually meaningless.

Kucinich should keep up the good work and get his shirt cuffs tailored so he doesn't look like the Artful Dodger. Bill Richardson should go home. And I hope Mike Gravel is lying doggo, ready to spring when the contenders have been rendered soft and weak by his absence.

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