Thursday, February 09, 2006

Joe Sestak makes his case for the race.

Joe SestakI'm grateful that my obscenely perfect wife tolerated that I went out to hear Joe Sestak speak after she'd spent a long day with our sick son. (Poor guy!)(Beloved spouse!)

Sestak spoke reasonably well for a freshly minted candidate. He's at his best when he connects issues to his experience in command in the Navy, where you can hear his passion, commitment and pride show through. He's highly conversant on foreign policy. He seems capable of taking a principled stance on domestic fiscal issues, such as pork spending and ethics reform. He's clearly less comfortable with fielding questions on social issues, but I'm satisfied with where he stands.

There's no doubt that he's a good guy. One of the things I like about him is that he sees enormous potential in people that society often expects very little from. He doesn't speak in platitudes.

He's a little bit wonkish. Don't get me wrong: I love wonks. But sometimes he drifts off trying to recall a study he once read or a figure that's in the back of his memory. He also needs to speak with firmer conviction about issues that aren't part of his core platform. For instance, he stumbled when confronted with a pretty open-ended environmental question. The environment isn't going to be a major issue in the election, but he needs to learn how to connect those issues back to something that actually might matter to residents of the district.

He'll have to build up those muscles of retail politics that allow his to speak with authority. I presume that events like this one are useful for working out some of the kinks.

Oh, and he's gonna need money. A whole lot of spending money.

I'm still on the fence. I like Sestak's primary opponent Bryan Lentz, too. There really isn't much of anything that either of their supporters in the ongoing proxy war could say that would lead me to believe that either is an inappropriate candidate. Really, that's a good position to be in. Often voters have no choice or only a choice between the lesser of two evils. Here's hoping for a clean campaign that makes the eventual candidate better prepared to take a whack at Curt Weldon this November.

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