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The Asylum

Welcome to the Asylum. This is a site devoted to politics and current events in America, and around the globe. The THREE lunatics posting here are unabashed conservatives that go after the liberal lies and deceit prevalent in the debate of the day. We'd like to add that the views expressed here do not reflect the views of other inmates, nor were any inmates harmed in the creation of this site.

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Who are we? We're a married couple who has a passion for politics and current events. That's what this site is about. If you read us, you know what we stand for.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Steele Vs. Cardin: Even The Post Agrees Steele Is That Good

Last night, Michael Steele squared off against Ben Cardin and Kevin Zeese. Needless to say, If this were a prize fight, it would have been called after the first round of questions. Steele performed superbly; thoroughly making Ben Cardin look less like a senator, and more like an junior high school student still trying to discern how many branches the government has. As Ian at Hot Air noted, there was a point where Cardin tried to tell Steele how he would have voted in the Senate. Steele issued an immediate, succinct, and polite retort that made Cardin, again, look foolish.

But Mary Katherine Ham took note of the Washington Post's story about the debate. Most important, the WaPo seems to think that Steele is nearly a shoo-in:

Long before yesterday's debate began, it was clear that Michael Steele was going to use his only televised meeting with Ben Cardin aimed at the Washington market to make the case that Cardin doesn't know beans about the D.C. area.

And sure enough, with just a couple of well-aimed questions, Steele, who grew up in the District and lives in Prince George's County, managed to transform his Baltimore-centric opponent in the U.S. Senate race into a stammering, defensive congressman from another planet -- or, at least, from a part of Maryland where nobody knows or cares about Metro's proposed Purple Line.

On NewsChannel 8, Lt. Gov. Steele displayed an attractive blend of courtesy and commanding presence, just the right touch for a Republican who wants to keep the focus on a candidate's "personal journey" as much as on the issues. Cardin, by contrast, settled for happily accepting Steele's acknowledgment that the Democrat "is good on policy."

So while Cardin touted his work on pensions and reforming the IRS, Steele didn't mention a single accomplishment of his own, preferring to stress his ability to "understand what it's like to be . . . a mother and worry that your child is going to be jacked on the way to school."

Steele and Cardin inhabit two different realms of politics. In Steele's world, it doesn't matter if you take big corporate money, or speak on behalf of President Bush at the Republican convention, or enlist radio talk show host Sean Hannity to appear at your fundraiser, because Steele is a decent man who "will call it the way I see it, regardless of party, regardless of ideology." Steele's magic is that he is equally comfortable running with the Bush crowd and nodding in agreement with the anti-establishment views of Green Party candidate Kevin Zeese, even as Zeese railed against big corporations and the defense and oil industries.

In Cardin's political reality, what matters are old-fashioned values of party and policy. The congressman, no orator, doesn't even bother to bone up on the top issues in Maryland's most-populous region. Asked, first by Steele, then by moderator Bruce DePuyt, then again by Steele, and then again by me after the debate, to say where the proposed Purple Line would run between Montgomery and Prince George's counties, Cardin failed each time.

"Right now, we're talking about taking it from Chevy Chase--" and then Cardin interrupted himself and angrily said, "I'm not going to answer your question," which opened the way for Steele to retort:

"This gentleman has no clue about Metro, traffic, congestion in this region. . . . I live here, and I sit in traffic every day."

Cardin later defended his ignorance, saying that what's important is not his knowledge, but his vote: "I support the funding of the Purple Line." Even if he doesn't know where it would go. In fact, while the Purple Line might pass through Chevy Chase, its route would extend from Bethesda to New Carrollton. Cardin's style may win partial credit in the backwater of Baltimore, but in the big city, he scored a zero.

Now Marc Fisher--the author of the story--goes on to take his own little swipe at Steele in the end of the piece by stating that Steele can't handle unrehearsed PR spots, like the one after the debate was done. Fair enough, but I'll fire back that the debate wasn't easy for either candidate. The last thing Steele wanted to possibly do was make a verbal gaffe for the press to pounce on. He won the debate, and he wanted that to be the story today, not some off-hand or off-color remark stretched out of context. So, I get him not taking any questions from the press.

The point he made was clear. Ben Cardin doesn't know what it means to represent Maryland. He does. A blogger in Maryland (now I wish I had saved the link) stated that Steele lacks the experience for Maryland. The man's been lieutenant governor since 2002. I think the man's done a good job in that capacity. And he showed that he does know quite a bit about the big city, and the issues that affect people there. That's not to sday that he doesn't care or know about the rural areas, but Ben Cardin's "aw shucks" routine that resonantes with a decent proportion of the rural voters isn't going to help him carry the day successfully.

The votes lie in the city, and those are the people who were paying attention to this debate. Michael Steele shined. Ben Cardin fell flat. This was one of the best debates that anyone could have seen. By all means, head on over to Hot Air, and check out the video from Ian.

Publius II


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