August 28th, 2006

Online Debate a Draw — No Fatalities

by Philip Baruth

Lite Governor-hopefuls Matt Dunne and John Tracy just finished their online debate over at Green Mountain Daily. It was a clean, bracing exchange.

And to our eye, it was a textbook draw. If Dunne opened sharper and cleaner (on time with his posts, less time wasted by way of cliche), Tracy closed stronger (citing Anwar Sadat as a personal hero, and stressing that he was logging off to attend a health care committee meeting).

The Scorecards:

Dunne — A clear eye on his audience, Dunne came out with a straightforward pitch to the netroots: “I believe we need to use the power of the net roots to beat someone like Dubie.” He seemed initially more in tune with the format, bringing in his responses under the assigned time limits. Most effective in talking about technology, green schools and their connection to property taxes, and the scholarship proposal he designed.

* Sleeper Move of the Debate: Pushing past the discussion of Catamount Health directly to universal coverage: “I will not wait two years or until 2011 to work on covering all Vermonters.”

Tracy — Tracy also showed himself fully conversant with the legislative and technological issues under discussion. Most crucially, he managed to make his “I’m the Regular Guy in this race” argument without framing it negatively or caustically. Ditto with his wartime experience; Tracy managed to work it in without overworking it.

* Sleeper Move of the Debate: Putting together the debate’s only fart joke, at Brian Dubie’s expense. (“I notice recently that Brian broke with the Gov. on wind, notice I did not say broke wind, and I think that shows that he is responding to our leadership in that area.”) Which more or less closes the deal on the “regular guy” question.

Well-deserved kudos to the GMD folk: Odum, Neil, Jack, and the rest for some out-of-the-box campaign thinking.

And to the candidates for dignifying the medium with their serious attention to it. Because as we all know, any debate can easily devolve into chair throwing, and if you doubt that,

Odum should have the transcript here, in a few hours.