Sounds like Mike Gravel was the hero of last night's Democrat candidate debates (I didn't watch--just read the postmortems). Interesting to see the differences between's account, which quotes Gravel's plainspoken words skewering the other candidates, and the New York Times version, which hews to the line that he was the "comic relief" and marginalizes his contributions. Dave, in the comments, said he was a bit dotty but his words certainly aren't. Here's the version. the issues of war and peace exactly right.

Some of these people [the other candidates] frighten me. When you have mainline candidates that turn around and say "there's nothing off the table with respect to Iran. That's code for using nukes, nuclear devices. Iíve got to tell you, if I'm President of the United States, there will be no preemptive wars with nuclear devices. In my mind, it's immoral, and itís been immoral for the last 50 years as part of American foreign policy.

Moderator Brian Williams then asked Gravel who on this stage worries him so much. Gravel said the top tier candidates worried him.

Gravel first took aim at Joe Biden:

Joe, you have a certain arrogance, you want to tell the Iraqis how to run their country. We should just play "get out." It's their country, they're asking us to leave, and we insist on staying there, why not get out. You hear the statement, "the soldiers will have died in vain." The entire deaths of Vietnam died in vain. You know what's worse than a soldier dying in vain? More soldiers dying in vain.

Gravel slammed fellow Democrats' approach on continuing to fund the war:

Well, first off, understand that this war was lost the day that George Bush invaded Iraq on a fraudulent basis. Understand that. Now with respect to whatís going on in the Congress, I'm really embarrassed. So we passed Ė and the media's in a frenzy right today with what has been passed. What has been passed? George Bush communicated over a year ago that he would not get out of Iraq until he left office. Do we not believe him?

Gravelís alternative:

How do you get out? You pass the law, not a resolution, a law making it a felony to stay there.

Make the illegal war actually illegal. Thatís the ticket!

But the best moment came after Barack Obama said that Iran having nuclear weapons will be a major threat to the US: "They are in the process of obtaining nuclear weapons. I donít think that is disputed by any expert." (At this point, Kucinich interrupted that it is disputed.) Barack continued: "They are the biggest state sponsor of terrorism, with Hezbollah and Hamas." Kucinich continued to interrupt. Obama then talked of the risk of nuclear weapons reaching the hands of terrorists.

Gravel (who happily was next in line) confronted Obama:

Weíve sanctioned them [Iran] for 26 years. We scared the bejesus out of them when the President said theyíre "evil." These things donít work. We need to recognize them.

- tom moody 4-27-2007 11:12 pm

Common sense and plain spoken truth are soooo funny. "Haha, look at the silly old man who thinks the emperor is naked. What a hoot!"
- mark 4-27-2007 11:24 pm

to be fair, he was a bit dotty in his delivery, but a breath of fresh air nonetheless. glad to see this on the kos front page. i would have expected concern trollism as he got "off message." i would have liked to see that exchange about irans nuclear proliferation with obama. he has yet to impress me beyond his resume.

"In addition to praising Brian Williams as moderator, Chris Cillizza misses at least one major point in his analysis of the debate, declaring Mike Gravel one of the night's big losers:

People don't like angry in their presidential candidates. And, "angry" typified Gravel's performance last night. Gravel called Biden "arrogant", said he felt like a "potted plant" because of the lack of questions directed to him. Taking a cue from Ronald Reagan, Gravel also said that he would forgive the other candidates on stage for their youth and inexperience. Last time we checked Gravel was an asterisk in any and all polling. Don't be shocked if this is the only debate Gravel is asked to participate in.

Um, Chris? Precisely because he has been an asterisk in the polling, Gravel had nothing to lose by alienating some people, and the fact that in doing so he made himself memorable is a big plus for him. He's probably gotten more coverage from this debate than in the entire campaign to date, along with a chance to take some of the anti-war vote from Kucinich."
- dave 4-27-2007 11:50 pm

I added the "dotty" to the main post. Damn TV--it's all about how you look, not the words coming out of your mouth.
- tom moody 4-28-2007 1:08 am

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