Bob Franken


January 6, 2008
Weekend Warriors (Bob Franken)
@ 1:03 pm

For once it was OK to be home on a Saturday night in front of the television. The big problem was deciding whether to watch the back-to-back debates or back-to-back football.

Can anyone tell me what happened in the debates?

Just kidding. Through the magic of digital video recording, I was able to watch all four of those sporting events, and the night certainly produced its winners and losers.

First of all, I live in Washington and I’ve lived in Pittsburgh. Guess which teams are out of the playoffs.

As for the second round of the presidential playoffs, we have to wait until Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary to see if any of the remaining players are eliminated. Probably not.

Was it me, or did Mitt Romney suffer from looking like the prissy kid on the playground as everybody kicked his ass? If so, he has a bit of a perception problem, doesn’t he?

But let’s be complete here. Isn’t John McCain, the one who repeatedly hammered Romney for switching positions (“I just wanted to say to Gov. Romney, we disagree on a lot of issues, but I agree you are the candidate of change”), the same guy who bitterly criticized religious conservative leaders as “agents of intolerance” in the 2000 campaign and is now pandering to them?

And there’s also that annoying habit he has of calling everybody “My friend.” I am probably the only person alive John McCain has not called “My friend.” As Hillary Clinton put it, “My feelings are hurt.”

Speaking of Hillary: What did they add to her water bottle? She came across as an actual human being last night. It was Barack Obama who so often bordered on boredom. He really seemed to need the help of his wingman, John Edwards. That made it much easier for Hillary to play the woman card, although she had Bill Richardson out there protecting her back. He was taking the place of her husband.

Speaking of Edwards again, he was the lone white male on the Democrats’ stage. If you wanted just white guys, you watched the Republicans.

There you could witness still more of their bickering over “illegals.” That’s when Romney wasn’t giving the equivalent of his “some of my best friends are immigrants” lecture.

I was also bewildered by Mitt’s defense of the pharmaceutical companies. Am I being naive?

For the Republicans, it wasn’t totally a squabble. They all supported the Iraq war and all the rest of President Bush’s battles with the world (President WHO?).

Well, all of them did but Ron Paul. I gotta tell you, though, that sometimes Paul sounded nuttier than a fruitcake. It must be me. No one who was bonkers could raise so much money and be so wildly popular on the Internet. Could he?

One other note: Charles Gibson and ABC put on a remarkable event. Gibson epitomized class, as always, and his network provided brilliant coverage. The shot selection and direction were were well thought out, the work of broadcast professionals. The usual distracting and pretentious gimmicks were absent. What few there were added to the show, which was all about the candidates.

The one that really worked was that gathering of all the participants from both parties on the same stage between debates. It was just the right touch and fascinating to watch them schmooze. It was just like seeing football players do it, when the game is over, after beating each other’s brains out.

Of course, this game is just beginning, after a long long preseason. It’s anything but over.

Except for my Redskins.

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