Commitment 2007: MA05 Democrat Debate Recap

August 14, 2007 at 7:17 pm | Posted in America, Lowell, Video | 3 Comments

good5th.jpgEd. Note:  I couldn’t find enough usable photos of the candidates, so after much frustration I Googled “adorable puppy” and used the results to fill out the space. 

Last night, much to my dismay, ABC postponed Wife Swap in order to broadcast a debate between the five Democratic candidates for the 5th district’s Congressional seat, which was recently vacated by Marty Meehan. 

The victor of the September 4th primary wins a chance to steamroll the GOP candidate in a special election on October 16th.  And then he or she will fly to Washington, receive a voicemail password and I.D. badge, and call Mom to say the flight landed safely.  All just in time to promptly kick off their 2008 re-election campaign.  Sweet.

I’m rather embarassed by how disinterested I’ve been in the race for the 5th.  But at this point, I fully subscribe to the ‘We’re Totally Fucked, Regardless, Doctrine’, which states that we are totally fucked, regardless.  No one’s got any money, no one’s got any plans, no one’s got any integrity, no one’s got any priorities, nobody’s got nothin’.  The Empire is crumbling, dear readers.  The Twin Towers, the Big Easy, the stock market, the bridges, Social Security, Merv Griffin.  All of it, dead as dillinger.  We are fucked.

But perhaps one of these five accomplished individuals is worth a sniff.  Perhaps they can save us from ourselves, though I rather doubt it.  I do feel obligated to vote, however.  Otherwise, how can I turn up my nose and talk down to my UMass-Lowell students about their own lack of civic engagement.  If I cannot condescend with sincerity, why teach at all?

puppy1.jpgBefore recapping this debate, please allow me to make two notes up front.  First, if you are seeking astute debate analysis, try Richard Howe or perhaps Left in Lowell.  Or, if you’re a real nerd, you can just watch the debate here.

Here at Lucy the Blog, health care and Iraq will be addressed, but we are more concerned with ‘gut instincts’.  The biggest ‘issue’ we’re grappling with is what kind of scary Oedipal weirdness is manifested by our raging desire for the mature but smoldering Niki Tsongas.  Tso Tsensual.  Tso tsultry.  Tso Tsongas.

Secondly, I must say that all five candidates seem nice enough.  Even Jim Miceli, who will not fare well in this analysis, seems like the kind of guy you might like to be friends with, if for no other reason than he could beat up your enemies.  Because even at at a ripe 72, Miceli could clearly lay a whoopin’ on any of his opponents.  Nice guy though, I’m sure.

The debate was moderated by local newsfolk Ed Harding and Janet Wu.  They introduced the candidates, who all seemed half-scared to death.  Jamie Eldridge looked like his teeth were stapled together.  Tsongas looked like her lips were stapled together.  And Miceli dropped his jaw as if he was going to say something, and then just left it hanging open like an invalid trying in vein to cry out for a cup of yogurt.  He could’ve used a staple.

People seem to struggle with these establishing shots.  I’ve noticed it before when the Beat the Press panel is introduced by Emily Rooney (another mommy type who tingles my nethers!)

For the benefit of the candidates, I’ve tracked down the opening credit sequence from MTV’s Inferno 3, which should be consulted prior to all future appearances.  Your only concern here, candidates, is what happens after the 1:08 mark, but feel free to enjoy the entire clip.

See how Abram refrains from blinking, as if he’s possessed?  When the moderator says your name and the camera cuts to you, why not take that approach?  Or purse your lips like Derek.  Such simple affects tell voters you’re a tenacious bulldog who will go “balls to the wall” for America.  Did you see the epic dont-let-go-of-the-stick match between Derek and Wes in the Gauntlet?  That’s the type of intensity and leadership we need against al-Qaeda and the Hollywood queer set.  

So next time, try that throat-cutting gesture like Paula Walnuts.  Or tear off your shirt like Davis.  (And I’m talking to you on that one, Eldridge.  Look alive, for Chrissake!)     

miceli.jpgThe first issue was America’s obligations to Iraq if and when we ever leave.  Miceli (right) said we must address the “infrastructure “and “displaced people,” and “beyond that, it still remains to be seen.”  Then he rested his hands on what appeared to be a throw pillow tucked into the front of his pants.  (For more information on his Iraq position, check out the issues page on his website.  Or not, as it appears to be ‘under construction.’  Ugh.  Lowell High student council candidates launch better campaign sites than this one.)

State Rep. Barry Finegold immediately disqualified himself from any consideration by voicing his support for Sen. Joe Biden’s three-state solution, saying it can bring “peace” to the Iraq.  It is a sign of delusion to believe that peace can emerge from a nation where boys are issued AK-47s with the arrival of their first pubes.  To think THREE peaceful nations can emerge is flat-out bat-shit crazy.

markey.jpgBut in truth, I had already disqualified Finegold because of his hair.  We’ve already got U.S. Rep Ed Markey on Capitol Hill, embarrassing the Commonwealth with hair that makes me cringe.  (Pictured to the right, threatening an intern with a pair of disassembled scissors that could be put to better use on his televangelist mop.)

I’m not expecting a candidate to have the full-bodied salt and pepper locks that made Meehan such a force in the House.  But Finegold’s hair just skeeves me out.  (See below.)  It’s that spikey but not, rectangular, product-saturated, car salesman look.  And I’m surprised his wife and advisors let him get away with it.

The second question focused on health care.  Several candidates noted that the Commonwealth’s new health care mandate is a “fine” or “great” model for the country.  As a couple who works their asses off to simply pay mortgage and utilities, my wife and I will pay roughly $800 a month for insurance under this new ballyhooed plan.  Which is wonderful, because every month when we pay the bills, I’m like, “What are we gonna do with this extra 800 bucks?”  And then I usually end up buying a suitcase of weed and ordering Wedding Crashers like 300 times on pay-per-view.  This will be a nice change.

Meanwhile, my fellow non-working but highly-fertile Lowellians, which by my estimation make up 80 percent of the city, will pay a fraction of what it costs me.  They’ll be the first to tell you it’s not easy buying scratch-off tickets, smoking cigs, and fucking all day.  So they damn well deserve it!

finegold.jpgI will elaborate on the joke that is Massachusetts health care at a later date.  But suffice to say, it is neither a “fine” nor a “great” model.  It is a “stinky” model. 

State Rep. Jamie Eldridge has apparently built his campaign around what he believes will be a better model, a universal single-payer system.  I have no idea what universal single-payer means.  But he looks like he’s been up all night for two months thinking about it.  And there’s a certain appeal to that.  Of all the candidates, he comes off as the most knowledgable, the least scripted, and the biggest dork of the bunch.  Like a more homely version of Paul Giamatti, if such a thing is possible.  Wake up, dude.

At this point, the candidates took videotaped questions from the all-knowing Man on the Street.  The first guy asked about how the candidates would boost the local economy.  Most of the candidates aggreed that nanotechnology, renewable energy, and green technologies are the future, and that’s where the district’s jobs will be.  Which is ideal for me because I have English and Journalism degrees.

Miceli rambled something about his “proven track record” for recycling newsprint, and Tsongas continued to say not much of anything at all.  Going into the debate, I was leaning toward Tsongas.  Like many voters, that preference was based primarily on name recognition, as her late husband did great things for Lowell during his time in the Senate.

tsongas.jpgBut last night, she didn’t really say much.  I’ve read in a few places that she’s not a good debater, so maybe there’s more to her than her empty responses indicate.  But I was not impressed.  Everything is generic, safe, political speak that sounds pleasant but means nothing.  Platitudes and statistics.  “We all know the vulnerability of children…We have 12 million illegal immigrants…47 million uninsured…$13 million per hour for Iraq….”

She does have those tsmokey bedroom eyes though.  But so does Eldridge.  God, I’m torn.  What a race!

The second Man on the Street was a college student who asked about how the candidates would help her afford college.  Allow Lucy the Dog to take this one, Ashley Foster of Chelmsford.  Drop out.  That’s a 100 percent cost savings right there.  Every candidate talked about how important a college education is to all Americans, which is total crap.  It’s a scam, Ashley!  A money pyramid to put steaks in Sallie Mae’s fridge.

Come sit on my lap children, and let me tell you a tale.  A couple months ago, a fan in our heater broke so we had to call the HVAC guy.  You don’t even know what HVAC stands for, do you, with your fancy college education?  Well, it’s heating, ventilation, and air conditioning or something. 

In any case, the guy came to our house for 25 minutes and charged us $26,543.  Two dollars of that went to a part, and the remaining $26,541 went to labor.  That’s right.  Without a college degree, a kid in ripped jeans can earn $26,541 for 25 minutes of work.  And that could be you!  So learn how to fix a toilet or how to corral immigrants to mow lawns.  You’ll be rich beyond your wildest dreams!  College is for self-important turds like me.

(Tsongas also noted during this segment that college educations are necessary to keep America’s “pipeline firm.”  Oooooh yeah, Niki.  No problem there.  Call me.) 

puppy2.jpgMike Dempsey of Billerica wanted to know if the candidates would support term limits.  All of them said no except Miceli, which sent Janet Wu into a rabid state that left him even more confused and discombobulated than he’d appeared all evening.  Like a ravenous beast, Wu attacked Miceli, noting that his stance on term limits runs contrary to the fact that he’s been in the State House now for three decades.  Miceli countered with much rambling, punctuated by a Joey Bagodonuts-esque, “So uhhhh, what’s yuh point, Janet?”

The final segment was the “lightning round” of the debate, where candidates were told to respond to quick-hitting questions with the first thought that came to mind.  Their answers didn’t vary all that much, so I’ll give my own first thoughts.

1 – There’s lots of structurally deficient bridges in Massachusetts.  Have you seen the list and do you know how many are in the Fifth?

Lucy the Dog Lightning-Quick Response:  No and no and Jim Miceli should have his own talk show.  He is the only one to venture a guess of 17.  WRONG, Wu says: 39.

 2 – Is there any one lobbiest or lobbying group, such as Big Tobacco or utility companies, who you will not accept money from?

Lucy the Dog Lightning-Quick Response:  Fuck no.  That cartoon camel can write me a check for $10 with the blood of a dying cancer patient and I will cash that shit pronto.  You think this high-rolling lifestyle pays for itself?  Niki Tsongas gave a typical Niki Tsongas answer:  “I know more what I would accept than what I wouldn’t accept.”  Ahhhhhh, yes. 

puppy3.jpg3 – You walk into your teenager’s room, and his or her diary is open or you find his or her myspace page.  Would you read it?

Lucy the Dog Lightning-Quick Response:  Absolutely.  And Jim Miceli should have his own television station.  After everyone had responded, he amended his answer, noting, “I didn’t know you meant your own child.”  As opposed to, yaknow, walking into the neighbor’s kid’s bedroom and checking out her diary.

4 – Is the home run record set by Barry Bonds legitimate?

Lucy the Dog Lightning-Quick Response:  I can’t muster any feelings one way or the other.  Whatever. 

5 – Do you think a U.S. Rep’s salary of $170K is too much or not enough?

Lucy the Dog Lightning-Quick Response:  Am I also attracted to Janet Wu?  What’s going on here?

6 – What’s the last book you read?

Lucy the Dog Lightning-Quick Response:  No, I am not attracted to Janet Wu.  It was just a passing fancy.  Miceli says the last book he read was “A History of Presidents.”  No author given.

In conclusion, I feel pretty good about this field of candidates.  And I admire them going door to door, pounding the flesh, and spending these lovely summer days in senior centers while people like me make fun of their hair.  I’m sure any of them would be adequate Congressmen, for whatever that’s worth.

Despite my skepticism, I think I’ve narrowed it down to Eileen Donoghue and Eldridge.  This is the first time I’ve mentioned Donaghue, who really did nothing to distinguish herself one way or the other during the debate.  That’s probably a good thing. 

debate.jpgDonoghue comes across as a pleasant, thoughtful aunt, and as an effective city councilor and former mayor in Lowell, she will likely work hard for the city.  People who I respect seem to like her, so that’s good.  Her only severe drawback is the amount of junk mail she’s sent out.  I’ve gotten like four flyers already saying “Experience has a last name” or “Leadership has a last name”.  I can’t remember which.  But both are pretty lame slogans.  Is “Eileen Donoghue” experience’s last name?  That seems like a stretch.

I might vote for her though, despite the fact that my views probably align closer with the self-proclaimed progressive candidate, Jamie Eldridge.  Actually, I’ll probably vote for him, I dunno.  He’ll likely crash and burn in Washington, as I can’t see too many politically-driven Congressmen standing behind his relatively radical ideals.  But whatever.  We’ll see.  I should probably figure out what single payer universal coverage means.  That’d be a start.

But I doubt I’ll do it.  The Real World Australia just got started, so between that and the final weeks of the baseball season, I expect to be very busy.  And in the end, we are totally fucked, regardless.



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  1. Janet Wu once stole my story about mailboxes disappearing in North Andover. I saw her walking down Main Street with a copy of my story in her hand and asking old people if they noticed that there were missing mailboxes. I walked up to her and said, “Hey, you’re holding my story. I wrote that.” She said, “Oh, you made the right move by sticking with print journalism. You guys do all the real reporting, then we come and just steal your stuff. The only good thing about TV is that I probably make a lot more than you do.”

    I almost curbed that bitch. But her hair was just sooooo alluring.

  2. She was at the Newbury Police press conference with me when those roofers got arrested after finding that old money in the barn. She asked many hard-hitting questions while I sat silently, taking notes like a high-school intern doing a job shadow.

    That is all.


  3. She would be the greatest newscaster in the world if she changed her last name to Wu-Tang.

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