Thoughts on the Debate

Last night the Tennessee candidates for the US Senate, Phil Bredesen and Marsha Blackburn, held their first debate in Lebanon, TN. And from the beginning it was a marked contrast in styles. Bredesen arrived early and spoke to supporters gathered outside on a rainy Tuesday afternoon. Blackburn arrived 45 minutes later and headed directly into the building offering only a wave to the supporters that had gathered for her.

I have to be honest though, once the debate started I felt that Blackburn’s presentation was a bit more polished than Bredesen’s. That is to say her mannerisms, body language, what have you. Blackburn’s style may have been more polished, but the substance of Bredesen’s message was much more appealing to me.

If you had to boil this debate down to its essence, Blackburn’s message was less about solutions and more about trying to associate Bredesen with others in the Democratic party. Apart from a pledge by Bredesen at the beginning of the debate that he would not support Chuck Schumer as senate leader he mostly ignored these jabs. You see this tactic all the time. Perhaps because the typical politician today is expected to put party over country and do as they’re told. But Bredesen repeatedly demonstrated a history and willingness to work across the aisle to solve problems and not get bogged down in the mud slinging that’s come to dominate the political landscape of today. It was downright refreshing.

Blackburn may have actually made the best argument in favor of Bredesen last night when she said “he could have run as a Republican or independent.” To me this perfectly illustrates that he’s an independent thinker not beholden to any particular party line. A welcome change.

And looking back I couldn’t help but draw parallels between their messages and the way that they arrived at the debate. Bredesen arrived early and spoke to the people he hopes to represent while Blackburn showed up later and mostly ignored them.