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Tomarken.com > F. Nick Michaels > One MO Senate Debate (10-24-02)
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One MO Senate Debate

F. Nick Michaels,Intervalist
10.24.02-St. Louis, MO

Well I just finished watching the debate on C-SPAN for the Missouri Senate seat’s special election. Because Jean Carnahan took the place of her deceased husband Mel who actually won the election, this election will determine who will serve the remaining four years of Mel Carnahan’s term rather than who will serve a six year term. I hope they can come up with someone better after that.

Who should I vote for? Well if I’m going to vote based on what the candidates stand for there was little reason for me to bother watching the debate. I could have simply waited until the election, looked at the little letter after their names, and voted for the party whose platform most closely relates to my own opinion (which none of them incidently do). I know, as do most Americans, generally the opinions of Republicans, Libertarians, Democrats, and Green Party members. But I’m glad I ran downstairs to my friend’s apartment with cable to watch the debate on C-SPAN rather than continuing to listen on NPR. Because now I have the real dirt on the candidates, and I can make make a truly informed decision.

Let’s start with public speaking ability. Now I thought Jim Talent (R) had this one walking away. Tamara Millay (L) never took her whole minute to finish her answer, and forgot what she was saying during her closing statement. Jean Carnahan, while competant and fairly well-spoken, can’t help being old. That wavering grandmotherly garble just can’t be overlooked. And Daniel “Digger” Romano (G) had a little trouble getting the right words out all the time. However, Talent made a fatal mistake that lost him his point for public speaking ability and forced me to declare this category a four-way draw. As those of you who have never lived in Missouri know, the name correct pronounciation of this state’s name is Miz-ur-ee. And as those of you who have lived in Missouri at one time or another are well aware, the correct pronounciation of this state’s name is Miz-er-uh. Now Mr. Talent, in an obvious attempt to connect with voters in Missouri consistently uses the Miz-er-uh pronounciation. But once, and that’s all it takes, he slipped and said Miz-ur-ee. Now I don’t know which he thinks is correct, but I do know that the only way one could possible use both pronounciations in the same debate is by conciously trying to use one and at some point slipping up. I don’t like this verbal trickery and so I give no one a point for public speaking ability.

Let’s move on to stage presence. The candidates had high-chair type stools to sit on and stood up when answering questions. Talent and Millay did the typical thing, standing up directly in front of their chair and dividing their attention between the audience and the red, yellow, and green lights that timed the candidates’ response time. Romano stood next to his chair and stared mostly at the ceiling during his responses, putting him drastically behind. Now Carnahan, in a moment of sheer brilliance, actually moved around the stage. While this does not quite disprove that she is a robot, it at least shows that if she is she was programmed well. The other robot/candidates could not make this claim. So I’ll give one point to Carnahan.
How did these candidates do at actually answering the questions the were asked? Let’s not hold them too accountable, for we all know that this is harder for a politician to do than riding a unicycle while juggling knives. But still, it is a category worthy of the distribution of a point. Since the candidates actual answers don’t really matter when selecting for whom you will vote, I’ll cut right to the chase and let you know that Romano was the only candidate that was able to answer his questions without every using some time to answer a different question that had been previously posed. One point for Romano.
How about name recognition? Well with a name like Talent, you can’t go wrong. Carnahan is the incubent so I’ve got to think that some people know her name. And what’s the number one comedy on CBS? That’s right “Everybody Loves Raymond” starring none other than Ray Romano. The closest thing to a Millay reference I can think of is to an NFL defensive back Lawyer Milloy, but since he doesn’t play for the Rams or the Chiefs, I can’t imagine anyone in Missouri has ever heard of him anyway. So Talent, Carnahan, and Romano get points here. Sorry Millay.
Now it’s time to get down to business. This is where it’s really important to watch TV instead of listening to the radio. Who looked the best? I couldn’t believe how high in the air, not to mention how wide, Carnahan’s hips were. And her all green outfit just didn’t do it for me. Not to mention that her previously alluded to grandmotherliness caused her loose skin to pull towards her mouth when she talked. Wholly unattractive. Millay looked like she was wearing a bathrobe with buttons and her glasses were just not in accordance with the latest style. Talent looked very businesslike and dignified in his suit. Romano defied typical standards by wearing courduroys, a plaid shirt with an unbuttoned collar, an olive green undershirt, and a sport coat with those kick-ass elbow pads. I give Talent one point for dignity, Romano one point for comfort, Romano another point for the aforementioned elbow pads, and Millay a point for not looking as misshapen as Carnahan.

I’ve decided to keep hairstyle in a separate category that general looks because, let’s face it, it deserves to be. Talent had the super-gelled, parted look. But for the first time in my life I’m not 100% sure that his hairstyle is actually permanently attached to his head. Millay displayed a somewhat wild, fire-red style that has got to command attention. Carnahan had an intentionally strage flat in the front, fluffy in the back kind of look. Romano sported wild grey locks with a few obviously distinguishable dreadlocks hanging down. I give everyone two points here, because I don’t think that I would have the balls to shape my ‘do like any of these folks in public.

There’s only one category left, jokes. While Talent was reeling them off like they were going out of style, he had a tough time getting the laughs. Millay had the crowd pleaser of the day when she mentioned that John Ashcroft must have lost his copy of the constitution. She followed up the laughter by furthering her opinion that he had never even read it. Now I don’t now if this was planned from the beginning, or improvised at the response of the crowd, but either way it was pure gold. Carnahan didn’t tell any jokes, but I think that that was a good strategy. Let’s face it: grandmas only get courtesy laughs. Romano didn’t actually make any jokes, but the biggest guffaw of the day came when he stood up to answer a question asking his position on drilling for oil in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge. And his appearance may have been the ultimate joke. Intential or not, it was subtle and brilliant. One point to Talent for trying, three points to Millay for consistency and the Ashcroft crack, one point to Carnahan for knowing her bounds, and two points to Romano for making comedy seem so effortless.

So let’s add ‘em up. Five for Talent (R), six for Millay (L), five for Carnahan, and eight for Romano(G). Looks like the Green Party candidate Daniel “Digger” Romano is getting my vote. The most important thing is that I was able to determine my choice based almost solely on appearance. Had it not been so important to hear the jokes, I could have watched this thing on mute and came up with the same decision. In face, I think muting the TV could only have helped Romano, whose jokes did not need any verbal delivery. Well you know who I’m voting for, but I want you, the reader, to have a chance to make an equally informed decision. So here you go:


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