After reading a number of the candidates' websites regarding this evening's Democratic presidential debate, I came to the following conclusion: THEY ALL WON. You'd think it would be impossible for this to happen, but you'd be wrong. Hillary was "dominant," Edwards was "smart" and "bold," and Obama "provided a clear example of strong, honest leadership."
Meanwhile, over at the New York Times, Stanley Fish writes a second, particularly relevant, entry on "spin." (Unfortunately, it's TimesSelect, but highly recommended reading, as is the first entry and the comments received on it.)
Fish writes of the "impossibility of avoiding 'spin' in a world (our world) [Ed. note: was this parenthetical really needed, Stanley?] where perception and expression necessarily proceed from some angled perspective or point of view."
And while Fish is not writing specifically for the presidential debates (or politics generally), this discussion is timely. After an eight person debate (which few watched), most people will learn about the debate through soundbites, youtubes, summaries and interpretations. So how does one find out who "won" the debate?
CNN's commentators take a similar, albeit much less intellectual or nuanced, perspective as Fish. Two of three think that Clinton was the "winner," although both of them also think that Biden "seemed to know the most about the issues" and none of them cite anything she did. Carville did say he thought she was "best dressed." But even that comment means little, when you consider that he likely said it only to avoid being seen as fruity for saying another man was well dressed.
Are any of the commentators correct? No, of course not, but when combined with the perspectives of so many others available online, you can get a pretty good understanding of the debate - and possibly a better one than just by watching it yourself. You'll even be able to get the result you wanted. Like Kucinich? He did great - in fact he was the best on the floor. Richardson? Man he was kicking ass and taking names. Undoubtedly, some accounts will even promise you that Mike Gravel will be the next president of the United States. Fortunately for us, political debates aren't like sports; no matter how many times I check ESPN, the Spurs are playing the Cavs in the Finals, not the Bulls and Suns.
Despite what I've said above (or maybe because of it), continue here, to see Cosmodrome's take on the debaters.