Gee, I Wonder If Carol Keeton Strayhorn Wants to "Shake Up Austin."
The fact that polls show that incumbent governor Rick Perry is only garnering about 35% of the vote shows how vulnerable he is. The fact that only 10-20% of eligible voters will probably vote this November shows how important your vote is.
Tonight was the only opportunity for Texans to watch all four major candidates (the Libertarian candidate is suing for not being invited) for Texas governor debate. Moreover, it was placed on a night where many Texans are watching High School football or gearing up for a college football game tomorrow. Even more silly, it's an hour long. Now, I'm no Math teacher but even if the moderators don't speak, that just 15 minutes per candidate. It's not ideal. I think I speak for everyone when I say that more debates should be mandated. Make it a law. Make it a real debate, not a narrow time frame where the candidates are just trying to get a neato catch phrase thrown in.
That said, it's all we have. So I watched it and was struck by a few things. And here they are.
- Kinky Friedman. Surely, Kinky was the main attraction. Everyone wanted to see how he'd do. And sadly, he really wasn't really up to the task of a formal debate. Let's just say it's not his thing. In his defense, he spent half the time answering questions about his validity as a candidate. There he was, dressed in black with a cowboy hat and smoking a cigar (I guess they don't have a no-smoking ordinance in Dallas?). He had to answer questions such as, "How can you be governor while smoking that cigar?! Think of the children!" It's hard to take anyone seriously when he's asked questions like that. If Rick Perry had to answer questions along the lines of "C'mon, you're not seriously running for governor. Are you?" he would have looked flustered as well. As for Kinky, he did his best to present himself as an outsider, like voters need that reassurance. He eloquently noted that "poly" means "many" and "tics" are a parasite. His last statement seemed entirely unprepared like he didn't know it was coming. How do you not have a closing statement prepared! I should say, he did end it nicely, suggesting that "the difference between a politician and a statesman is that a politician is concerned about the next election, while a statesman is concerned about the next generation." Meanwhile, Rick Perry had the "I can't believe I'm sharing the same stage as him" look.
- Carol Keeton Strayhorn wants to "Shake up Austin." I didn't count how many times she said that damn phrase. My estimate? Probably 12. That's impressive since she probably had only about 8 minutes to speak.
- Chris Bell makes Al Gore look like the Rolling Stones. I cannot believe this is the most dynamic candidates Democrats could put forth. Remember that scene in the Simpsons where someone rushes in to tell Al Gore that someone purchased his book, followed by Al Gore saying monotonously, "this is cause for a celebration," followed by him sitting silently still while "Celebrate Good Times" is being played? If you gave Bell an electroshock he would have been that exciting. Don't get me wrong, I like him and thought he did well, and will probably vote for him at this point, but it's incredible how absent he's been throughout this campaign season and how droll he was on TV. He made several excellent points and honestly, looked more composed and gubernatorial than Rick Perry. If Democrats knew how to actually run a campaign, or be relatable, he could wind up winning this thing.
- Rick Perry is a douchebag. I'm sorry he is. He got all indignant about how Kinky uses politically incorrect language and how he sets a bad example. I can't believe no one referred to "Adios, mofo."
- The round of total bullshit Texas sociological questions. What the hell was this??! Each candidate had 15 seconds to respond to questions to questions such as these:
To Kinky Friedman: "What is the average tuition at the University of Texas?"
To Rick Perry: "What was the electric bill at the governor's mansion last month?"
To Chris Bell: "In what year was the battle of the Alamo?" What the fuck!!!! Is this a a debate or Texas History versus Who Wants to be a Millionare?! To Bell's credit, he got it right.
To Strayhorn: "Who was recently elected president of Mexico?" OK, maybe this round was enlightening: she didn't know!!! Strayhorn said something along the lines of "he narrowly won the election and ... umm... in a Strayhorn administration we would ... work together to combat illegal immigration." She didn't know!!! How could she be the governor of Texas if she doesn't know who the President of Mexico is?!?! Yikes. Probably the highlight of the evening.
- Kinky Friedman agreeing with Chris Bell, to the point where I think he might vote for Bell. Two instances. First, there's a round where the candidates are supposed to ask questions to each other. It think it was naturally assumed that questions were supposed to be actually directed towards the candidates. However, Kinky's question to Chris Bell was, "What do you think of Rick Perry only agreeing to do one debate?" The other instance was a comment by Chris Bell regarding education to which Kinky replied, "I have nothing to rebut." At this point no one's taking him seriously.
At the end of the night, I don't think an hour debate is going to really change anyone's mind about anything. I think Strayhorn should get hammered for stumbling during the "trivia round" but in truth, the people voting for her probably don't care. Perry didn't really do a whole lot, not that he really could have I don't think. It's understandable why he doesn't want to debate any more. Chris Bell finally got face time, which he needs more than anything else. I still can't believe he's the Democratic candidate in a year when Perry is amazingly vulnerable. And Kinky, well, he's Kinky. I hope he does this again sometime.
At this point, my vote would look like this:
- Friedman (he's not Rick Perry)
If you have thoughts and opinions about the debate or the race in general, let's hear them. And register to vote! (Kinky is absolutely right that it's ridiculous we have to register a month before the election.)