Must see:

While I don’t buy the Kucinich-Dean parallel, it’s a pretty powerful piece of propaganda.

I’m watching the AFL-CIO / Working Families Forum on C-SPAN right now, featuring all nine candidates and it’s been a bit of an eye-opener so far. Interestingly, it’s being held at the Navy Pier in Chicago where this year’s National Poetry Slam Finals will take place on Saturday night and the forum has a bit of a slam feel to it.

Lieberman is one smug bastard that loves to reference Clinton as if some of his mojo might run off on him. He also just received the first round of boos on the night. Sharpton’s been extremely well-spoken (no surprise) and extremely well-received (big surprise). He’s gotten the loudest applause and the first laugh of the night. Graham and Kerry have been shaky and Kerry keeps going over time. Gephardt seems pretty confident that he’s preaching to his choir. Mosley-Braun and Edwards have acquitted themselves nicely, if not spectacularly, though Edwards has the look.

For all of his outspokenness, Dean is suprisingly Dubyaish when thinking on his feet. Kucinich, on the other hand, is on the attack, calling out other candidates and challenging them to be truthful about their positions on things like NAFTA and Social Security. He’s made Dean obviously uncomfortable and Edwards has even credited him on his exemplary congressional record. My one concern is that he may appear to be going too far this early in the campaign, something that would be a bit hypocritical in light of everyone’s praise for Dean’s battering of Bush.

Closing statements, in order: Graham focuses on Bush’s record (the Pinocchio President and the Sammy Sosa trade), points out his opposition to the war in contrast to some of his fellow candidates; Edwards focuses on Bush and contrasts with his own humble, working-class upbringing, goes over time; Dean focuses on electability and how to beat Bush, references his own internet fundraising; Lieberman thanks AFL-CIO for support in 2000, asks for second chance, hits specific union issue he missed earlier, implies old Democrats are bad, references Clinton AGAIN!, goes WAY over time; Gephardt references working-class roots, recently deceased mother, his own congressional record, focuses on Bush’s attacks on regular people; Sharpton references lifelong activism, little change since Martin Luther King, Jr., calls himself the conservative: “to conserve what we won 50 years ago;” Kerry (missed the beginning) looks forward to debates, connects 9/11 firefighters, etc. to unions, references military service and mocks Bush’s aircraft carrier landing; Mosley-Braun praises hometown of Chicago, attacks Bush re: Haliburton and Enron, encourages all to vote, says a woman deserves a chance to lead, is reading her comments a bit clumsily.

Kucinich closes, references history of defeating Republicans with labor’s help, proven record, feed goes dead due to electrical storm at C-SPAN’s studios in DC!!!! What the hell is that about? First they mysteriously pre-empt his Hear it From the Heartland appearance a week ago and now this?!?! What the fuck is up at C-SPAN?

All in all, it’s been a good show and I can’t imagine any clear-thinking Americans walking away from it without some new perspectives on the candidates, positive and negative. Of course, that assumes there’s enough “clear-thinking Americans” that give a damn and are watching.

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