As has been widely reported, even as far as my mother’s hometown paper and my alma mater’s local paper, the three candidates for U.S. Senate from Maryland met on television for the first televised debate. After the charged atmosphere and civil tones taken at the first debate, last night’s affair between Ben Cardin, Michael Steele, and Kevin Zeese was a down-and-dirty street brawl.
And now, on the eve of tonight’s third debate at the NAACP, Ben Cardin has dropped out at the last minute! Dry your eyes, get up, and get back on the horse, Mr. Cardin. You’re running for Senate, and if you can’t play ball with the big boys: Go home.
More on last night: Cardin and Steele spent most of the evening at each other’s throats, vying for attention like childish bullies each wanting the pulpit. Kevin was drawn into the bickering as well at several points. Several times during the evening, the candidates could hardly be heard above one another.
A few highlights:
- Cardin attempted to defend against Kevin’s attacks on his voting record for the war in Iraq. When Cardin dissembled that he was voting to “keep the troops safe” and “pay their salaries,” Kevin pounced: In fact, troop salaries and equipment are paid for almost entirely by the DOD budget, whereas the funding voted for by Cardin was in support of permanent bases in the Middle East.
- Steele nailed Cardin on his knowledge of Washington-Metro area Maryland matters. Specifically, Cardin was utterly embarrassed by a question as to the purple line’s proposed routes; and though he refused to answer the question, it was clear he was befuddled.
- Kevin, speaking last, handed out DVDs of the first debate to his opponents. Steele smiled and accepted graciously; Cardin looked like he wanted to vomit.
Overall, I think Steele came out of the whole affair seeming to be the least belligerent, and Kevin only slightly less so. As usual, though, Steele had no policies or message other than his character as a leader. Kevin clearly articulated several aspects of his unique policy ideas. Cardin continues to be the consummate slimy politician.
As usual, though, the media coverage hardly mentions Kevin Zeese as an equal participant, with the Washington Post taking home the award for Most Lopsided Reporting. In their coverage, Zeese isn’t mentioned until the bottom of the page, and only then as an after-thought inclusion with the other two candidates. The photo (posted with the article earlier, replaced with the video now) cuts Kevin completely out of the picture again. The AP story that ran nationwide suffered from similar bias, although at least their picture had all three candidates.
The Baltimore Sun seems like they might be taking notice, though. The headline on their article read: “Cardin, Steele play ‘gotcha’ in three-way TV debate: Democrat, Republican spar over war, Metro; Zeese claims victory.” I’m pretty sure the campaign itself didn’t claim victory here, so this comes across as a pronouncement of a winner. Congratulations, Kevin!