I am looking for a few simple things in the debate tonight. Which candidate is giving us more than sound bites and rhetoric? Which candidate isn’t answering the questions soooo carefully that by the end of their answer we forgot the question? Which candidate seems best able to project specifics about how they would get us out of the war - and maybe even demonstrate some leadership skills to affect the current showdown with President Bush over the Iraq supplemental?
I also want to hear candidates address some other issues that matter to me, like public education. I want to know what the candidates will do to ameliorate the recent Supreme Court decision rolling back a woman’s right to choose. I think that Democrats should talk about the cost of the war, not just in terms of human lives and international strife, but also what it has impeded us from doing at home. And finally I’d like to hear a good answer from the candidates as to how they would respond to a national disaster like Katrina with enough specifics that we could have faith in their commitment.
They have a big agenda. But ultimately, I predict that it will only partially be fulfilled. There are simply too many candidates and not enough time. There will be a LOT of people on that stage looking for airtime to get themselves heard. And more than half of the candidates will not be the ones that everyone has been talking about – Clinton, Edwards and Obama. Sure, we will hear from them. But Brian Williams has to make sure that Biden, Richardson, Dodd, Gravel and Kucinich also get equal time. That doesn’t leave much for the frontrunners.
What will each of them do to get noticed? Let the fun begin.