In humble attempt at casting this in the tradition of Socrates, a (slightly altered) quote:

"The unexamined vote is not worth casting."

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Judge Tells MSNBC, Include Kucinich or Cancel the Debate

A note to readers: I must admit, as has likely been clear, I have been quite taken with Congressman Dennis Kucinich and his stand on various issues. This blog was, as I explained in the summary at the top of the page, part of my attempt to make sense of who the options were and who I would like to support in whatever ways I could. That has placed me tentatively in his camp*, but I'm still thinking as I go here, and intend to offer more variety on the other candidates going forward. Now, on to the news:

As stated in the New York Times yesterday:

"A Nevada judge has ordered MSNBC to include Representative Dennis Kucinich, a Democratic presidential candidate, in Tuesday night’s debate in Nevada, the Associated Press reports.

The debate was expected to feature Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Rodham Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards.

Charles Thompson, a senior district court judge for Clark County, Nevada, said he would issue an injunction stopping the debate if Mr. Kucinich is excluded."

The Kucinich campaign's press release on the subject begins in the following way:
"Less than 44 hours after NBC sent a congratulatory note and an invitation to Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich to participate in the Jan. 15 Democratic Presidential debate in Las Vegas, the network notified the campaign this morning it was changing it announced criteria, rescinding its invitation, and excluding Kucinich from the debate.
NBC Political Director Chuck Todd notified the Kucinich campaign this morning that, although Kucinich had met the qualification criteria publicly announced on December 28, the network was “re-doing” the criteria, excluding Kucinich, and planning to invite only Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama and former senator John Edwards.

The criteria announced last month included a fourth-place or better showing in a national poll. The USA/Gallup poll earlier this month showed Kucinich in fourth place among the Democratic contenders."

Another look at some of the details is available here, and a link to the court document here. MSNBC has appealed the ruling, and the hearing was supposed to happen at 4:30 this afternoon. MSNBC must not be very confident about their chances though, with the top story on the debate section of their website including details on how Kucinich will likely be included. Apparently some of the questions will be asked by the candidates, one to another, so Dennis could really spice things up if he's there. Nothing is finalized though, so we may just have to wait till the debate airs tonight to find out (it'll be on MSNBC and from 9-11 pm EST).

* I am trying to consider if I will cast my vote his direction come the Virginia primaries. As mentioned here, on the Huffington Post's blog, with much stacked against him, Kucinich may simply be staying in it to influence the positions taken by the other candidates--a laudable goal for sure; if that's the case, I'll have to think through some strategy in terms of whether a vote for him would be better spent on another candidate that has a greater likelihood of being elected. Either way though, here's what the writer in that Huffington Post piece said about all this:
"Kucinich is not running to win the nomination. He knows he is not going to succeed...He is running to influence the political discourse within the Democratic party --- which is critically important. He is running to show the frontrunners what the full spectrum of Democratic opinions might a real debate. We cannot elect the really "perfect" until we see it. Which is why Kucinich and his Democratic positions are so important. I know that history is on his side and his positions are the right direction for democracy. I can only hope that Hillary and Obama see it too. One day we will have universal medical care, we will ban corporate control and corrupt financing of the political process, we will legalize gay marriage, we will get rid of the Patriot Act, and we will stop fighting stupid wars. So thank you Dennis, for speaking truth to power. And you will have my vote in the primaries."
Update: Alas, the Nevada Supreme Court apparently just ruled tonight that Kucinich could indeed be excluded from the debate, overturning the above ruling.

Update 2: Kucinich discussed the ruling and his sentiments on it outside the debate while people protested his exclusion. At least for some of the night tonight, the video screening is available here: The debate was worth watching though, and did give a good idea of the other candidates; I'll see if there's a link at some point to add to the full debate (although I do still feel Kucinich would have added a lot, and brought a real challenging voice to the discussion).

Update 3: The radio/TV show "Democracy Now," carried on public radio and television, used a unique format the morning after the MSNBC debate to include Rep. Kucinich. They aired the questions and answers of parts of last night's debate, one section at a time, and followed each section with the answers of Rep. Kucinich (i.e., Kucinich was live on Democracy Now, and explained how he would have answered each question had he been included; he also responds to the other candidates' comments). Audio and video of the show are available here.

Update 4 (gotta be the last one): More links--1. Video by the Las Vegas Sun on the exclusion; and 2. Columbia Journalism Review article on the exclusion.