Held on September 26, 2007 in primary state New Hampshire, the debate was moderated by Tim Russert, host of NBC's Meet the Press.
The event was geared in game show format, replete with "lightning round" questions and 30-second time periods for responses on such complex issues as the Iraq War, Middle East policy, solvency plans for the Social Security system, and personal statements of religious faith.
In hopes that the ills of 2007 political debates will be corrected as we move toward 2008, I've selected the five worst moments of this disastrous debate.
- WORST MOMENT #5 - Biden and Dodd Mocking Other Candidates
- WORST MOMENT #4 - Religious Litmus Test
- WORST MOMENT #3 - No-Hope Candidates
- WORST MOMENT #2 - Tim Russert: Judge, Jury & Limelight Hog
- WORST MOMENT #1 - Spineless Top Candidates on the Iraq War
WORST MOMENT #5 - Biden and Dodd Mocking Other Candidates
Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE) and Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) condescendingly snickered as Gov. Bill Richardson explained his approach to dealing with solvency of the Social Security system.
I might have taken little notice of their boarish behavior had the two senior, sixtyish senators not also have openly scoffed at Sen. Barack Obama as he delineated his Iraq War policy plan at the Iowa debate on August 19, 2007.
Chris Dodd and Joe Biden are the very essence of the old-white-boys' D.C. establishment, and the heart of the Senate old guard. Dodd has been a member of Congress since 1975, and Biden since 1973. Both wield enormous power as chairs of important Senate committees.
To see these two Democratic leaders smirking, shaking their heads and even laughing at fellow candidates says much more about them than it does about Barack Obama or Bill Richardson.
What their blatant rudeness screams is that they're closed to new ideas and fresh approaches. What their unbecoming disrespect says is that they support status quo, and that their vision is limited to stale, inside-the-beltway thinking.
Do Biden and Dodd not remember that when they mock a fellow candidate, they're also mocking the judgment of the supporters of those candidates?
Mind you, Dodd and Biden have been on the wrong side of plenty of issues over the decades. Most glaringly, both voted YES in 2002 to give George Bush the authority to attack, invade and occupy Iraq. (See Iraq War Vote in 2002: 156 Congress Members Who Voted NO).
I now understand why neither senator has been able to muster more than 2% of Democratic support in national polls: these two self-appointed guardians of Democratic political truths assume a certain seniority entitlement to the 2008 nomination.
While the two senators' arrogance causes them to mock presidential candidates under age 55, they fail to focus on sharpening their own dying campaigns.
For complete debate coverage, see:
Rating Hillary Clinton - Cumulative Scoreboard for the Debates
Rating Barack Obama - Cumulative Scoreboard for the Debates
Rating John Edwards - Cumulative Scoreboard for the Debates
Rating Bill Richardson - Cumulative Scoreboard for the Debates