That's how I would characterize the positions of the three candidates taking place in the debate tonight for the Democratic challengers for Dennis Hastert's soon-to-be-vacated seat in Congress, in the order in which they were seated on the stage. From left to right were Jotham Stein, Bill Foster, and John Laesch.
Truth in advertising: I'm a Laesch supporter--and a hangover supporter at that, considering I was in his camp the last time he ran against Hastert. I'm doing my level best to represent each candidate's positions accurately, from notes I banged out on this here laptop while the debate was ongoing. I thought all three of the candidates had good points to make and made bad points or failed to address the questions they were asked at times. On points, however, I'd have to say Laesch won tonight--and I'd have said that if I were a Stein or a Foster supporter.
Stein kept referring, in absentia to his detailed plans to address the problems in this district, this state, and this nation. However, almost never did he reveal any of the details of those plans--and when he did, the details themselves were rather sketchy. Nor am I as convinced as Mr. Stein seems to be that the voters are all that likely to embrace a candidate who prides himself, as Mr. Stein did on several occasions tonight, on being a compromiser and a negotiator, someone who's going to position himself in the middle and try to bring both sides together. Seems to me that's one of the (many) things that voters are telling pollsters they're sick to death of--politicians who are so busy compromising and negotiating that they forget to actually stand for something.
Bill Foster is the enigma in this race. A retired scientist, a man with some business experience (though despite his attempt to trade on that, it sounds like it's his brother with the business experience, not the candidate himself), and positions that at times sounded quite at odds with the tenor of the district. Despite numerous attempts to spin his way out of it, in response to the first question about Bush's immigration plan, Mr. Foster came out in favor of what is tantamount to a national ID card. Over and above the privacy issues involved, that's a huge additional bureaucracy--and cost--that we don't really need. Not to mention the fact that the very idea that having some kind of ID card that employers could check to verify the immigration status of their workers is likely to have zero effect on the people who are inclined to hire illegal immigrants. Most of the people that do so know that's what they're doing, and intended to do it all along. The idea that they just need better tools to enable them to make better decisions about which workers to hire strikes me as painfully naive.
Of the three candidates, Laesch ran away with this debate in my estimation--and I have my fair share of experience with debates, dating back to my four years on the forensics team in high school, a couple of eons ago. His points were concise, most of them were substantive, and they were well-delivered, without the pauses and gropings for words that both of the others displayed far too often for my liking. The one point where I can't wholeheartedly endorse Mr. Laesch's position is on the question of whether it is an effective use of Congress's time to impeach Dick Cheney. Laesch offered a passionate case for the affirmative, but it was rather short on substance--and failed to convince me that it would, in fact, be an effective use of Congress's time. Given that Cheney--and his sockpuppet Bush--are on their way out the door in just over a year, I don't see any particular urgency or value to pushing them out the door any faster--especially if the person doing so pushes into the Oval Office is just as bad or worse as the one it pushes out of there.
Granted, I went into that auditorium tonight a Laesch supporter. But I walked out of the auditorium afterward glad that I could say I'd been a supporter even before hearing his performance tonight. I may not see eye-to-eye with John on everything, but he's certainly someone I feel comfortable with having represent me and my concerns in the U.S. Congress. I hope to be able to say that he is representing me and my concerns in Congress before very much longer.