Thoughts on today’s Iowa NPR Democratic debate

I listened to most of the NPR Iowa debate, although I missed about the first 15 minutes.

With the exception of Clinton, it was overall a good performance for those credible candidates there. Clinton came off as a bit too rightist and belligerent, and I was disappointed that Richardson was not there. Of the rest, Biden did better than I expected; I started off pretty much writing him and Dodd off as “boring and not progressive enough” and both of them have been both improving in not being boring and moving to the left.

As for the two minor candidates, I think Kucinich is doing a much better job than Gravel at getting a progressive perspective across without sounding crazy, which is too bad – I was really enjoying Gravel’s perspective early on in the primary cycle, and he’s increasingly just sounding grumpy. Which is justifiable, but is not the way to win voters’ hearts and minds.

My strongest opinion is pretty much “not Clinton” and that’s gotten stronger over the course of the primary race. I’d also love to see either Gravel or Kucinich as a serious contender, but right now I don’t see that happening.

It will be very interesting to see who will still be in by the time the California primary is closer, and if the gap between the top tier (Clinton, Edwards, Obama) and the second (Dodd, Biden, Richardson) narrows. When the time comes I’ll probably tell you who I end up voting for; what I will say now is that I’ve donated a little bit of money each to Edwards and Dodd.

What’s funny is that I don’t remember who I voted for in the 2004 primary; I *think* in the end I voted for Kucinich because Kerry was looking inevitable by the time it got to California. Whomever it was, it was a last-minute decision – I remember liking all three of Kerry, Edwards and Clark well enough to have had a hard choice there.

I am, however, still sad that neither Gore nor Feingold decided to run this time.