“O Tannenbaum”

I’m sitting here in the newsroom, ready to write something about the final debate among the three leading Democratic gubernatorial candidates, but I’ve got the TV at my desk turned to NBC’s coverage of the Preakness (I can hear the horse-race jokes now).

When I flipped the telly on, a choir in crisp military whites was singing the Maryland state song, which is written to the tune O Christmas Tree.  Makes me think: if I could pick a Christmas carol to sum up the 2006 gubernatorial campaign, what would it be? Your suggestions, please. Alternate lyrics welcome. I shall think on it some more. I might widen my search to non-Christmas songs.

The debate didn’t break much new ground. There were a handful of reporters out at IPTV to cover the event and we were (at great surprise to us) invited to eat lunch. The Register provided chips, a sub sandwich, cookies and bottled water to the assembled throng. Actually, there were only a little over a dozen reporters/photographers/technicians in the room, so that’s more of a grouping rather than a throng.  I think to have a media "throng" there must be boom microphones, and there were none today.

After the debate, the group of reporters stood in a circle and compared notes, then listened to the end of the debate to ensure we had the right "yes" or "no" answers to the "lightning round" question-and-answer session at the end of the debate. Then, Fallon came in to answer a few questions, followed by Blouin, then Culver.

Looking back at the event, I was struck at first by Culver’s resemblance to the cartoon character Mr. Incredible — and I can’t take credit for this. The folks on WHO-TV’s Sound-Off made the on-screen comparison months ago, but man, it was so spot-on at the beginning of the debate — particularly when it looked like Culver was standing on one foot and looking at the moderator to answer a question.  His body was positioned in such a weird way. That was also a really red tie. And Culver mentioned how he worked with Governor Vilsack twice, while Blouin (the guy who worked for Vilsack as Department of Economic Development director) didn’t mention Vilsack’s name once. Bizarre.

The candidates seemed a bit more collegial than they have in recent debates. They even laughed with one another at certain points. Fallon’s people were noisy, though, and the moderator had to remind them the rules of the debate were that no one was to applaud (or yell, or run with scissors). I think the time used on the video segments could have been better used for more question and answer time. If more slick production elements had been added, though, I have an idea: they could have concluded with an American Idol-esque list of numbers on the bottom of the screen so callers could dial in to vote on who "won" the debate.

To the question about admitting to a mistake, they gave those answers you prepare for during a job interview.  You know – citing a "negative" that can be spun as a "positive."  And why was Blouin wearing glasses one moment and then sans glasses the next?   

Back to the after-debate press gaggles, Culver tried to claim he never suggested the state should try to get a flexible fuel auto plant built in Iowa. We’ve got the tape to prove he did make such a call, and I’m sure all the newspapers in Iowa have the printed quotes to prove it, too. I’m going to check the chetnotstupid site to see if the Blouin folks have that up yet.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.