Friday, April 03, 2009

How debatable ...

The Post Gazette has the news, currently in their breaking news section online. There will be three debates between the Mayoral (Democratic) candidates, including a live one Monday at 7:00pm on PCNC. The other two will also be at 7:00pm, taped on KDKA on April 15 and again live on April 20 on WTAE.

As we may all remember, Obama was behind right before the debates. By being cool and very reasonable sounding, and because McCain was cranky and less reasonable sounding, Obama pulled ahead and never looked back. For Dowd to score a similar result, the Mayor would have to be less on his game than he was with DeSantis. For that to happen, Dowd will have to challenge the Mayor the first time he doesn’t answer a question. Also Dowd will have to be somewhat dismissive when the Mayor lists achievements, and Dowd will have to suggest that the City’s financial achievements are the result of ICA or Act 47 team guidance, while the City's missteps are the Mayor's own fault. Finally Dowd will have to be charitable to Carmen Robinson, to avoid seeming a bully.


Peaks and Gutters said...

"Dowd will have to challenge the Mayor the first time he doesn’t answer a question."

I don't think he even needs to wait that long. In a city that loves incumbents as much as this one does, the first step - and perhaps the most important step - seems to be proving to the masses that the city can't afford to re-elect the incumbent. Dowd needs to keep doing what he's been doing: go after the Mayor early and often (while also keeping an eye on that "vision" thing that has been brought up) (see what I did there? Good, right?).

You would have to think that these debates are silver platter situations for Dowd and Robinson. I mean, the laundry list of Ravenstahl's offenses and offensive actions is long and well-documented. They don't exactly need to drop the bomb of a murdered state's witness (h/t The Wire) to swing the polls in their favor after the election.

There's just too much crap - for lack of a better term - that Ravenstahl would have to be a politician par excellence to talk his way out of it all. And I don't believe that he can pull it off.

I also believe that Dowd and Robinson can each take their shots at the incumbent while avoiding 1) looking like they're ganging up, and 2) pushing each other around too much.

EdHeath said...

Peaks, I disagree that there is too much crap (that Ravenstahl has done). Mark DeSantis should have wiped the floor with Ravenstahl, and yet he did no better than reinforce his base (older college educated voters in the University district). Ravenstahl is a natural debater (surprisingly) and I actually expect him to win all three debates, or at least not to lose them. Ravenstahl’s only flaws are that he has a temper, if sufficiently provoked, and that he thinks he can get away with not answering some questions fully because he has gotten away with it in the past. I have said in the recent past, voters go with their gut, and Ravenstahl appeals to the gut sense of a lot of Pittsburghers. Dowd need to make Ravenstahl young and rash, angry and incoherent, like McCain was.

Dowd would need to throw the elbow early – on the first hard hitting question, wait until Ravenstahl has finished his answer and then raise his hand, wait a half beat and say forcefully but quickly “He did not answer the question”. Then if given a chance, Dowd could say where Ravenstahl did not answer the question and give Ravenstahl a chance to answer. Since I assume Ravenstahl would still not answer, Dowd could cover it, quickly, in his next scheduled question. Dowd will need to curb his natural tendency to repeat himself. He will need to use a huge degree of self control.

I personally agree Dowd should list the litany of Ravenstahl’s misdeeds, including being the only City employee to appear before the Ethics Board. But I wouldn’t dwell on it, and Dowd should list concrete things he wants to do, the eight issues he lists on his website, with some concrete examples (put ten new bicycle cops in the Southside, keep track and publish the number of potholes Public Works fills, etc). But don’t think that beating Ravenstahl in a debate will be easy. DeSantis’s supporters thought so (including me), and they (I) were wrong.