Tuesday night the campus of South Carolina State University in Orangeburg was the site of yet another "pre-season" gubernatorial debate. Most of South Carolina is not paying attention to the Governor's race, and after watching Tuesday night's debate, who could blame folks for not paying attention?
The debate, which focused on environmental issues, was touted as historical because candidates from both the Democratic and Republican parties participated. Such might make media types, some bloggers and academics feel all warm and fuzzy, but the truth is the debate just offered twice the canned answers, the bad makeup, and the egos.
That said, since we cover politics, VUI has to say something about the pre-season clash. (Now the staff of VUI knows how the sports writers feel covering high school football jamborees or NFL pre-season football.)
First, the lighting was bad and the makeup was bad. All the candidates were portrayed in poorer than they wanted physical like. As Editor of VUI, I found no winner or no clear loser. As I said, to me, it was like watching a glorified football scrimmage. The candidates were going through the motions and making sure they ended the night without being hurt. Further, like a scrimmage, things were just off. No one, the candidates, the panel, the folks filming the event, had their game faces on. (Side note, what was it with cutting to Gilda Cobb Hunter in the seats when Larry Grooms spoke?)
Other staff members of VUI saw it differently. One was clear about how she thought Lt. Governor Bauer had a good night. Another thought Jim Rex look liked the leader for the Democrats. Yet another had perhaps the most interesting insight. He found Robert Ford to be the winner because, "of all of them, Ford is the guy I would like to sit down and have some barbecue and beer with." There was also some debate among the staff on who was more colorful, Robert Ford with his broken English, or Henry McMaster with his exaggerated "Foghorn-Leghorn" accent. There was little debate on how the Hillary Clinton style pants suit does not work for Nikki Haley.
Here are some other quick thoughts stated by some of the staff throughout the debate. With canned answers from candidates from both parties, the staff went after more interesting stuff.
"Someone tell Dwight Drake to get a haircut, it is not 1975. Besides, he looks like a funeral home director. "
"Sheheen seems like a nice boy."
"Grooms reminds me of a guy who sold me a used car once."
"Gresham Barrett's smile reminds me of the joker from batman."
"Who the Hell is that guy," said in reference to both Robert Ford and Mullins McLeod.
"Henry McMaster can't be that dumb."
"Why is Jim Rex doing this?"
"Both Nikki and Andre need to eat more."
All that said, there were some people that worked hard to pull off the debate with all the the candidates at SCSU Tuesday night. The criticism of the second "pre-season" debate is meant in no way to criticize their hard work. Indeed, those who worked to pull off the event are probably the only winners of the night.