Sunday, October 29, 2006

Cardin/Steele Debate

Oliver Willis has clips up of the Steele/Cardin debate on Meet the Press. Willis is a Dem, so I'd imagine the clips are edited to favor Cardin. Still, I think they do provide some good insights on the dynamics of this race.

Steele is a very, very, good speaker and has strong political skills. His ads are unique and effective (in a way it's unfortunate that he "will chiefly be remembered after the elections for an amusing television ad in which he espoused his love of dogs."), and I give him credit for a great campaign. In many other states, including some blue ones, he'd be a force to be reckoned with. But, as Willis points out, Maryland voters possess unusual political savvy. We do tend to privilege substance over style, and we are quite willing to elect the type of thoughtful, policy-minded wonks that are necessary to pass the best laws for the nation, not for flashy campaign ads.

This isn't to say Steele is running a bad campaign--I can't think of another route he could go given how far out of sync his views are with the median Maryland voter. And it is not an attack on Steele's intellect, either--he comes off as a very thoughtful man who thinks wrong on many issues. But it is a credit to my home state that we can see past the flash and recognize that Ben Cardin is a better choice to reflect our ideals and our values.

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