Though moderator Matt Bai said the presidential candidate seating on stage at the YKos convention was random, it seemed anything but. It went like this: Gravel, Richardson, Dodd, MCJoan (Kos frontpager), Matt Bai (journalist), Edwards, Clinton, Obama, Kucinich.
This meant Edwards, Clinton and Obama just just feet from each other, chairs angled inward, with each person’s sighs, stiffenings and gesticulations radiated into the other’s space. Nicole, Bryan and I squeezed into the front row on the right, just yards from the power-triad.
The contenders’ physical proximity and the energized crowd put this debate a notch ahead of choreographed TV debates. The air reverberated with psychic concussions — it felt like we were ringside at a boxing match.
Clinton offered a poised performance, keeping her cool and sounding well-studied and Presidential. Though the lobbiest contribution questions that have dominated press coverage were thrown with knockout force, Clinton somehow rope-a-doped away from them.
Obama was poorly primed on camera management; he delivered 90% of his answers to Bai rather than the audience and camera, which meant that the projections on the two big screens flanking the stage were from just behind his left ear. He sounded wooden and off-kilter on some answers, I thought.
I was blown away by Edwards’ raw passion, which often verged on outright anger.
I haven’t seen any press or bloggers mention this. He sat on the edge of his seat, his face often tensed as he listened to questions and answers. Sometimes his foot jiggled, several times he slapped his leg while listening to another candidate’s answer. He nodded and applauded other candidate’s statements on several occasions. He jabbed his hands and thrust his shoulders when talking.
I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about Elizabeth Edwards’ cancer and its impact on Edwards and their family; I wonder whether mortality’s head-butt, coming 11 years after their son died, hasn’t awakened some animal instinct to fight, as though Elizabeth’s life depends on it. Edwards energy and anger were almost desperate yesterday. Having decided to invest their remaining life together in this race, he does not want to look back in five years and regret having pulled any punches.
Here’s some footage:
The presidential debates seem to have convinced journalists that the netroots have arrived. Here’s journalist Ron Fournier‘s wrap:
Gone are the days when candidates and political parties could talk to passive voters through mass media, largely controlling what messages were distributed, how the messages went out and who heard them. The Internet has helped create millions of media outlets and given anyone the power to express an opinion or disseminate information in a global forum, and connect with others who have similar interests.
Gina said there were only seven sponsors last year versus this years’ 40 — I’m proud that Blogads was there last year.
Yesterday, we did a brainstorming session with bloggers and advertisers and, when possible, will be implementing their suggestions in coming weeks. Will send out a summary note tomorrow.