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The 1st Debate: Meet Former Sen. Mike Gravel

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In Orangeburg, SC last night, about 100 miles from my home, in the reddest state of a once red country (funny how words change; it used to mean communist, now it’s the exact opposite), the blue team battled it out in the first of what promises to be a long series of debates. I didn’t think that I was going to see much here last night. I thought that Dennis Kucinich would clarify his position (something the mainstream media is loathe to let him do), and maybe gain a few points in the standings. (See how much this is like a sporting event? Well, it IS called a race).

I was a little disappointed in Dennis Kucinich, he couldn’t quite achieve any type of charismatic stance, although that is not important to me, it doesn’t bode well for the campaign in general; many Americans demand charisma, it seems to be important, knowledge and commonsense seem to trail that media glow, as this were American Idol and not a Presidential Race. Joe Biden came out polished and smooth, too smooth for me...and also a little belligerent. I can only guess he is trying to get the centrists and right of center Democrats that feel comfortable with a President that won’t be afraid to get “tough” with other nations and “terrorists”.

Chris Dodd was surprisingly smart in my opinion, having good answers to questions that took a little fast thinking on your feet. John Edwards kind of floundered when asked a few questions from the hip. He also was extremely long winded and his answers sounded like memorization and a sales pitch, instead of heartfelt answers. I was extremely disappointed. Same with Bill Richards, with his wonderful diplomatic coups of the last year in North Korea and Darfur, I expected him to come out sounding a wee bit less jerky and disjointed. Still, he answered questions in a way that I probably would have answered them. He has a definite take on things and with him, you DO get the feeling that he speaks from his inner beliefs. He didn’t apologize for being the NRA poster child, but he did say that assault weapons and back ground checks including information about a person’s mental status should be a part of those checks, but after the incident in Virginia, that was a given.

Hillary Clinton was surprisingly good. Her answers were well thought out. She still sounded lame when she said that she voted for the authorization of force because she thought Bush was going to take that to the UN and demand that the World Body force Saddam’s hand. Either one: She was buffaloed into believing the unbelievable propaganda that Bush used in his race towards war, or two: She didn’t want to seem out of step with everyone else and voted for it so she wouldn’t stand out and therefore it was the politically expedient thing to do. Either way, it was a serious lack of judgement on her part if she believed either of these suppositions. She further aggravated me by just not admitting she screwed up.

Barak Obama was disappointing. He was defiantly the consummate politician. The man for all seasons so to speak. He promised everything to everyone and came out looking like a caricature of a politician. Some might say he was smooth, he was. I say he was very pat in his answers. It seemed to me that he was a little too vague. I don’t think that he has the experience to carry this campaign to it’s conclusion. I especially didn’t like the way his remarks to the South Carolina crowd all of a sudden came with a mock southern accent. That was a little over the top. I’ve lived here for awhile, and I don’t even talk like that. It was too damn condescending which his appearance on the whole seemed to be.

The surprise and the best I’ve saved for last. Out of the blue comes Former Alaskan senator Mike Gravel, who besides adding a little comic relief with his expressions and his biting wit, brought a breath of fresh air to the debate. He came out swinging about George W,’s “fraudulent war”. He then said that some of the candidates including Joe Biden want to tell the Iraqi’s how to run their country. He said that “Biden had a certain arrogance”. The best part of the entire evening for me was this statement from Senator Gravel when asked about the three most important “enemies” of the United States:

MR. GRAVEL: We have no important enemies. What we need to do is to begin to deal with the rest of the world as equals, and we don't do that. We spend more as a nation on defense than all the rest of the world put together.

Who are we afraid of? Who are you afraid of, Brian? I'm not.

And Iraq has never been a threat to us. We invaded them. I mean, it is unbelievable. The military-industrial complex not only controls our government lock, stock and barrel but they control our culture.

That would have been my answer almost word for word. As much as the press derided what he said there, it was one of the most talked about statement and he seemed to get more press than anyone. Another part of the debate that got a lot of air play was this answer by Sen Gravel when asked if he believed in the “French Style” of using nuclear energy:

MR. GRAVEL: No, not at all. I think there has to be a maturation process. And I'm the one that started the nuclear critique in this country. I'm also the one that denied the boots on the ground for George Bush today when I filibustered the end of the draft. And I'm also the one that brought about the Alaska Pipeline by one vote in the Congress.

So when you ask about the energy issues or the other issues, let me just tell you -- I want to answer the question on the war and on what's going on. We are mischaracterizing terrorism. Terrorism has been with civilization from the beginning, and it will be there till the end. We're going to be as successful fighting terrorism as we are fighting drugs with the war. It doesn't work. What you have to do is to begin to change the whole foreign policy.

The Republicans who are charging Democrats about not going for the defense of this country -- my God, this invasion brought about more terrorists -- Osama bin Laden must have been rolling in his blankets, how --

MR. WILLIAMS: Senator --

MR. GRAVEL: -- happy he was over our invading Iraq.

Again he hits the administration with the truth, and the pundits and the other candidates thought he was “quaint. I thought he was correct on every point. When questions about foreign policy were being raised with other candidate, Se. Gravel raised is hand and got 30 seconds:

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Tim Gatto is Ret. US Army and has been writing against the Duopoly for the last decade. He has two books on Amazon, Kimchee Days or Stoned Colds Warriors and Complicity to Contempt.

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