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The Lincoln-Douglas Photo Op

I know, I am unfashionably late in weighing in on the debate Thursday night on MSNBC, but I will anyway with the excuse I was knee deep in the big bloody of the violence report.

Is it just me, or is there something Lewis Carrol-ish about a presidential debate in which the debaters are not supposed to talk to each other directly? Those were the groundrules. They didn't call it the Lincoln-Douglas photo op, so why can't we see some fireworks?.

The "Democratic candidate event" in South Carolina was more like an extended collection of sound bites, though the questions were pretty good. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton probably didn't hurt themselves, though Clinton still as had a Stepford-First Lady delivery as though she can't let down her guard. Has she been taking wooden-delivery lessons from the formerly wooden Al Gore?

Obama had sufficient gravitas and seemed more at ease than Clinton.

Joe Biden acquitted himself well. Biden has always struck me as in love with the sound of his own voice, but this time that voice sounded pretty well-informed and statesmanlike.

There was even some direct addressing, despite the rules, by the refreshingly offbeat Mike Gravel, or as I refer to him, "who?"

Gravel is a former New York cab driver, Wall Street clerk and brakeman on the Alaska Railroad, so says his bio, who was also a Senator from Alaska for a dozen years. Then there is the story of his reading 4,100 pages of the Pentagon Papers into the Congressional Record, but that's another blog item.

Anyway, Gravel had the stones to break up the tea party masquerading as a debate by lobbing a few rocks with some off-the-wall ideas, including essentially criminalizing the Iraq war.

If Kucinich thought he had the kookily endearing far left of the race sewn up, he was sadly mistaken.

If the campaign trail can be paved with a little more Gravel,  that would be OK by me.

By John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.