Sunday, October 01, 2006

Sherrod Brown vs Mike DeWine on Meet the Press

As readers here know, I endorsed Sherrod Brown for US Senate this past week, only to read the next day that he had voted for the "compromise" detainee act. I then read a bunch of angry blog postings from around the state and wrote my own angry blog entry. The next day, I heard Brown's explanation on the Ed Schultz show, and although not completely happy about it, I have some understanding why Brown voted as he did. Reason started to prevail over emotion and it was time to move on and look forward to the Meet the Press debate between Mike DeWine and Sherrod Brown.

The debate began with Mike DeWine refusing to use "cut and run" because he doesn't know what that means. This was DeWine at his most weasel-like moment. He cleverly inserted Hilary Clinton's name into the debate, implying that even she agreed with him. This was in reference to testimony from ex-military generals who said that leaving Iraq now would be a mistake. DeWine refused to set "an artifical date" for withdrawal. I don't understand why our politicians haven't learned the lessons from Viet Nam.

Brown did not do well at first on the question of what do we do now with troops in Iraq. Has anybody anywhere answered that question and given us a practical solution? Russert showed a poll result indicating that the majority of Iraqis want the US out of their country. I side with the Iraqi people. The question of civil war is one that they must deal with.

Body armor was a bone of contention. The format of the debate did not allow Brown to respond to Mike DeWine's claim that Brown voted against funding for body armor 5 times. Brown did say that he voted against an 87 billion dollar funding bill for the troops because the money was to go to Halliburton, and other big corps who would not have any accountability. So score one for Brown here. I'd like to see some truth in advertising on this issue somewhere. They both make claims against the other and the real facts get buried under all the noise.

Brown needs to work on answering questions directly. People are fed up with politicians side-stepping and ignoring questions in order to go off on their own tracks. I know it is easy to watch and criticize and very difficult to respond the perfect way in the heat of the debate, but I would encourage Brown to practice answering directly and THEN going on to make his own points.

Brown finally did come up with a good statement about the future in Iraq -- that the Iraqi people have no incentive to overcome their differences while the US remains there. Clearly, there needs to be a concerted effort from the rest of the world, not just the US and its raggle taggle consortium of yes-countries that rode into Iraq along with Bush.

Brown made a good point about the US losing its focus because of the Iraq situation. I think that he needs to keep hammering on the fact that DeWine has been in power and has failed to protect us. He also made excellent points on funding sources and who is backing DeWine.

DeWine tried to use Brown's vote against the Patriot Act as a negative, but sorry Mike -- that's one of the biggest reasons I have to vote for Brown.

Tax cuts were brought up but it resulted in a yelling match between the two candidates. I hope the next debate gives both candidates an opportunity to speak uninterrupted about their policies.

What is the election about? Brown tells us he will vote for Ohioans not for the president. The oil companies get everything they want, HMOs get everything they want.

DeWine attempted to blast Brown's voting record -- he's on the fringe. Gasp! He's on the left! Oh no! Then DeWine tried to bring up examples of how he has voted with Democrats on various export bills for the steel industry. Brown immediately pounced on that and told us that both bills were undercut by Bush and are no longer on the books. More responses like that please, Mr Brown!

As we know, in any election appearances have an effect upon the undecided voter, maybe even more so than political positions. As an acting coach, I paid attention to the surface impressions as well as the issues. Brown clearly is more good looking than DeWine and has a big advantage in physical appearance. He speaks well with his hands. I noticed that his hands often do gestures that indicate connection and joining rather than pointing and hammering. DeWine seems stuck on one hand bouncing up and down as he tries to make a point.

Mike DeWine's smile tends to appear at the most inconvenient moments, such as when responding to Russert's questions about Congressman Foley's improprieties with congressional pages. Brown's eyes dart about as he thinks, while DeWine's eyelids flutter absurdly. Brown took notes. DeWine didn't. Brown reached for the handshake first. Brown has a much pleasanter smile. Brown is not the most fluent speaker, but once he gets over a few hics and starts, he does get rolling. Does that come across as canned reponse? For those who are used to it, no. But how does that come across to the average Ohio voter? DeWine's fluttering eyelids and gulps when tring to make his points give him a weak and shifty appearance.

Physically, DeWine is not at all appealing. He looks like a gnome and sounds peevish. Brown has that gruff working class voice, even though he isn't at all working class. Brown came across as more passionate about the issues in terms of his constinuency. He consistantly referenced communities from every corner of Ohio. DeWine never did. DeWine's passion seemed more about staying in office rather than wanting to serve Ohioans. That's how it came across to me and I sure hope that any other undecided Ohio citizens saw that as well.

The Democratic Senate campaign did Brown a great service by airing their "The More We Get Together" commercial at the start of Meet the Press today. I looked for it online but couldn't find it to link to. When I do find it, I'll post it here. It takes a DeWine commercial about "working together" and points in a new direction. DeWine works with Bush 90+% of the time. Playing underneath the factual statements showing who DeWine works with (Big Oil, Bush, etc) we hear children singing "The more we work together, together, together...) It's very catchy and hilariously straight to the point. DeWine is clearly trying to use "bipartisanship" as a major selling point. This commercial undercuts that point in a memorable fashion. Hope it airs a lot!

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