9.27.2007

Who Won the MSNBC Democratic Presidential Debate? Tim Russert, Ken Burns and the Yankees

While most television watchers were watching their team fail to make the MLB post-season, the black and white flicker of yet another WWII documentary , fading actors Paso Dobleing, or another endless and senseless telenovela, Democratic presidential hopefuls were on stage in Hanover, New Hampshire for yet another talkfest.

The debate was moderated by famed TV inquisitor Tim Russert, so it sounded a lot like an expanded version Meet the Press. As is his trademark, Russert's questions were designed to make candidates squirm a bit. Most interesting to watch was how Russert--on a number of occasions--succeeded in setting Hillary up.

Her response? She let go of one of those scary laughs Byron York of National Review calls a cackle.

The one question I most enjoyed watching the candidates answer was on Sanctuary Cities.

Candidates were asked if they opposed or supported cities breaking federal laws by declaring themselves as sanctuaries for undocumented immigrants. Richardson was asked first because--well--he's Latino and nonLatinos seem to think that immigration is simply a Latino issue.

Richardson--along with Dodd, Kucinich and Gravel--believes that sanctuaries are important in light of a federal system which is wrong and counter-productive. Obama and Hillary had more nuanced responses, but they, too, ended up on the side of sanctuary cities. Biden and Edwards also blamed Bush for failed leadership on immigration reform but are against cities opposing federal immigration enforcement.

York watched the debate, too, and he wasn't much impressed. (Here's his write-up.) For him, there were no winners. The TV pundits disagree. They gave the win to Hillary, but for odd reasons. They believe she won because 1) she didn't mess up too badly, or 2) some other candidate--such as Obama--underperformed.

They're all wrong. There was indeed a winner--or winners, and none were on the stage at Dartmouth. They were Tim Russert, Ken Burns and the Yankees!

Related: Democrats start with Iraq - Manchester Union Leader
Democrats Debate - MSNBC