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1 Debate. Seven Candidates. 71% Waste of Time.

by on October 18, 2010

That pretty much sums up what I am expecting out of tonight’s debate. While I understand the rationale for including all the “candidates,” a serious debate amongst the serious candidates is necessary as well. Third party and fringe candidates don’t really add much to the campaign, and aren’t serious in their efforts that we should take them seriously.

So, no, I am not expecting much out of this debate. And I hope Paladino hasn’t blown his chance to force Cuomo into a one-on-one debate. Cuomo has an out now, he can say he’s already debated all the candidates, and doesn’t need to do another.

Personally, I think only candidates that poll above a certain percentage in at least two legitimate statewide polls should be debating. Sure, there can be one debate with every candidate on the ballot, but we need at least one with actual contenders.

Anyway, the debate is coming up soon. We’ll see how it goes.

Live tweeting

UPDATE: So, now that the debate is over, what do I think?

Despite the you-can’t-make-this-stuff-up moments that provided plenty comic relief, I wasn’t very thrilled by having all the candidates participate. Seriously, I thought voter fusion would have brought the numbers of general election candidates down to no more than four (Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, and Green) but instead we had this circus show that is bound to be fodder for Saturday Night Live this weekend.

But, on to the 29 percent of the debate that is really worth looking at in depth.

Particularly disappointing was that Carl did note address Cuomo directly. Carl needed to demonstrate that he and Cuomo were the only serious candidates on stage, and the way to do that was to address Cuomo, his record, and positions and contrast them with his own. Just because he “wanted” to have a debate with all the candidates, didn’t mean he had to treat them all as contenders. By not addressing Cuomo specifically, Cuomo, as the frontrunner, was content to just sit back, regurgitate talking points, and carry on as if he was the only legitimate candidate on stage.

Let’s be honest, it was ridiculous having seven candidates on stage — at least if this is the one and only debate. Even Cuomo, who I don’t support, deserved to respond to several attacks made against him by the minor party candidates, but couldn’t. Actually, what he didn’t say deserves mention.

Sure, Cuomo was well prepared, calm and confident, but he offered nothing specific. He presented himself as a reformer, which blurred some distinction between him and Carl, but lacked the specifics… I’ll give him credit for giving the appearance of being gubernatorial, but as we learned in 2008, style does not necessary come with substance. Cuomo lacked substance, but in a debate of this format, style actually resonates easier. Carl took too long to get comfortable in the debate, and his lackluster performance of the first 20 minutes or so seems to be what most pundits have been reacting to on TV and radio.

Of course, it’s hard to talk about the debate without address the “five others.” Their purpose seemed largely for comic relief than for serious debate. Debates ought to be for serious candidates. McMillan, Barron, and Davis did not appear serious. Green Party candidate Hawkins and LIbertarian candidate Redlich at least came across as more serious, even if they are not contenders.

In the end, this debate did little. Cuomo hid like a mouse in tall grass. Carl took too long to get comfortable and did not do enough as one of the two contenders.

Oh, and rent is too damn high.

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