The room was SRO and stuffy, with Sharon Sund in bright red and Brian Barnes in a wrinkly navy suit. The moderator--as celebrifier, audience-flatterer and pacer--keeps the evening televisual. We're treated to a long series of questions; cue Dream Act minute. The responses are mostly political fluff, with the odd substantive moment here and there.
Barnes wins the public speaking contest, demonstrating broader command of the issues--and doesn't flag energy-wise, after the event has long since started to bore both Sund and [silent, sitting in back] me. For the third cycle we have a money-burning intra-party fight for the nomination centering on personality.
Barnes and Sund 'will abide' by the decision of the 4/14/12 congressional district convention. (The alternative is to allow the 99% to decide, in the 8/14/12 state primary--my preferred solution.) Sund tells the gathered honchos 'you have a right' to make the decision--and 'absolutely' she'll consider the 4/14 decision final. Barnes brags that he prostrated himself first.
Barnes is an occasionally gifted spewer of political pabulum, and nails a 10.0 emotional crescendo--on the verge of tears--defending the honor of a lesbian aunt. He's going to rub magic vapor on a lot of problems. Sund gets truly nutty on gas prices, suggesting an international conspiracy aimed at unseating Obama. She appears out of her depth on economic questions; she wants to increase progressivity and raise taxes--and apparently wants government-commanded, good-paying jobs for all.
To reduce the price of gasoline, Barnes wants the US to build more refineries--and believes market speculators are at the root of today's higher prices. He offers a peroration on the splendors of energy independence--which both candidates think will require lots of subsidies for their favored green technologies.
For Barnes, energy is a personal issue, as he works in the field. He never quite makes clear why his employment better enables him to get us to energy independence.
Though he believes sanctions are working--he opposes war--Barnes states flatly, 'We cannot live in a world where Iran has nuclear weapons.'
Barnes has a boring and unsalable central economic plank--to increase education spending across the board. He doesn't talk about any innovation in education not pleasing to the teachers' unions. He has no interesting response to the long-term budget crisis--though he's the more deficit-concerned of the two.
Barnes imagines the great economic benefit of separating health care and work--removing up to 40% of an employer's costs, he says--without feeling any need to put forward a word on who'd then be left holding the bag.
Barnes and Sund both are very anti-free-trade, preferring 'fair trade' (read: protectionism).
Each candidate offers unalloyed praise for the Obama foreign policy, though each wants the US to get out of Afghanistan more quickly than does the president.
Two boring, big-spending paleolibs, in short--neither interested in reining in Israel, cutting the military or legalizing marijuana.
To the dustbin!