T.A. Frank: Debate was a “Disaster” for Reid

October 15th, 2010 at 11:39 am | 9 Comments |

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T. A. Frank writes:

Why Harry Reid agreed to have a debate with Sharron Angle is a bit of a mystery to me. If your campaign is based on portraying your opponent as loony, then why give that opponent a chance to look reasonable? Lyndon Johnson never debated Barry Goldwater. Then again, I’m no political strategist. And neither, I’ve come to see, is Harry Reid. So let’s focus on what matters now: that a debate was held in Nevada last night between Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and his Republican challenger Sharron Angle. And its upshot was—sorry, folks—that Angle improved her chances.

I’m not suggesting that Sharron Angle, having been granted the opportunity to look reasonable, looked reasonable. On the contrary, she was very much herself—smiling maniacally in her crimson suit and hurling out bizarre fictions. But she looked reasonable enough. Lies about policy don’t really hurt you in a debate, especially when they’re voiced with conviction. What hurts you is looking evasive and squishy. Sharron Angle provided the lies. Harry Reid provided the squish.

I should mention that the moderator, Mitch Fox, did a very good job, in case that cheers anyone up. It might at least cheer Mitch Fox up. But this viewer, who has reported on Sharron Angle enough to find her alarming, was really more interested in seeing a good performance by Harry Reid.

The first question concerned illegal immigration. Why, asked Fox, had Reid neglected border security for so long? Reid started by pointing to new efforts to secure the border but soon veered into “comprehensive immigration reform,” a treacherous topic that wasn’t even raised by the moderator. “We have to do something about the people that are here that are undocumented, have them pay taxes, penalties, fines,” said Reid.

Sharron Angle’s answer was far firmer. “What we have here is an illegal alien problem,” Angle said, “and the solution is simple: secure the borders, enforce the laws. I think every state should have a sheriff like Joe Arpaio, and we should be supporting Arizona instead of suing Arizona, like Senator Reid and President Obama have. When they sued Arizona, they also allowed eleven foreign countries to join in that suit. Senator Reid, you’ve allowed eleven foreign countries to dictate our immigration law.”

To be sure, almost none of this was true. Harry Reid has nothing to do with foreign nations getting involved in the lawsuit against Arizona. And eleven foreign nations certainly aren’t dictating U.S. immigration law. (What actually happened was that they were permitted by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to file what is called an amicus brief.) But Angle’s answer was confident and clear, successfully depicting Reid as a liberal caricature.

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9 Comments so far ↓

  • haterinos

    Disaster…really? I know its a super low bar for Angle…but saying it was disaster for Reid shows how distorted your view is.

  • Saladdin

    I think that the verbal gaffes each candidate tends to commit are inherently different in nature. Reid’s gaffes tend to come from his Senate-speak, whereas Angle’s comes from her Libertarian views, which she often has to back away from.

    Debates aren’t debates, they are joint press conferences. Angle repeated talking points and populist rhetoric which may be enough to win an election, but not enough to govern. These, sadly are 2 entirely different things which tend to require different skill sets.

  • Posting From Fake America

    Reid had plenty of opportunities to paint Angle as a loony extremist, but his answers were unclear and verbose. I’d say it was a draw, which might give Angle a slight advantage. However, I’m not sure many people were watching anyway; it was a pretty boring affair even for Congressional debates.

  • PracticalGirl

    Was the debate a disaster for Reid in Nevada? Like Posting above, I wonder how many actual voters in the state were watching. I also wonder how many within the voter group will be more susceptible to the post-analysis views (always a subjective cat fight) than to the actual debate itself.

    Worth noting-Nevada Republican heavy-hitter Sig Rogich has made a case for Harry Reid. The Tea Party has certainly made for some strange bedfellows this election cycle.

  • balconesfault

    Unless Angle is the 51st GOP Senator, I’m coming to the conclusion that Harry Reid losing would be a long term win for the Dems. He’s really not been a particularly effective Senate Majority Leader, turning the Dem Caucus into what some were calling the “59 seat minority” … he doesn’t really articulate any positive vision of why Democratic legislation should pass … and it seems the only way he won’t be Majority Leader next term is if the Dems lose the Senate, or he loses this election.

    Meanwhile, Sharon Angle given the national stage that a US Senator gets, will provide an excellent foil for whoever is the Senate Majority Leader to point to when they need a characature of just how extreme the GOP is. Enough so, in fact, that it might liberate some GOP moderates to join with Dems in bipartisan legislation.

  • Saladdin

    But this viewer, who has reported on Sharron Angle enough to find her alarming, was really more interested in seeing a good performance by Harry Reid.

    So basically it was a “disaster” for Reid and not Angle, because she didn’t come off going blah, blah, blah, blah. Come on, the bar for Senate candidates should be higher than this. In that case, I guess O’Donnell did well v. Coons because she didn’t go b**sh*t crazy.

    I’m amazed by the lowering of the bar. I understand that these aren’t anything more than joint PR conferences, but the nature of their gaffes are inherently different.

  • armstp

    It is bullshit that the bar has been lowered so low for people like Sharron Angle that all she has to do to win the debate is to not look like a complete idiot. It was basically the same for Palin when she debated Biden.

    What about substance? What about what she believes? What about what she will do for the people of Nevada? What will she do to solve the problems of the people of this country and Nevada? What does she even believe the problems are? Is she qualified? Does any of this even count anymore?

    The Media has lowered the bar so much that commentators like T.A. Frank believe that Angle wins by just showing up and saying nothing stupid. Harry Reid has to do a dance to reveal that Angle is an idiot, otherwise he loses. That is bullshit! Politics has hit a new low.

    .
    .
    .
    balconesfault,

    Although Reid is not the most charismatic, he has been a hell of a vote counter. He has been a success. He has helped Obama pass some of the biggest pieces of legislation in recent times in one of the worst political environments in recent times. Reid has actually performed very very well.

  • DirtyLibrul

    You can really just cut that down to: “Debate was a “Disaster”.

    This was not pretty on either side of the ball, but Angle came off more crazy than Reid did boring. I know everyone wants to lower the bar for Angle (and I agree with all the posters who noted that), why this is acceptable I don’t know, but if you were just tuning in for the first time, seeing Angle live for the first time, one would have to think “Who is that addled, crazy woman? Wait. What? SHE’S running for the Senate…of the United States!?”

    Nobody won this debate, but Angle failed harder.