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We cannot say enough about the format for this debate. Informal, impromptu, it presented the candidates as they actually are, allowing judgments not possible in the usual stiff and structured format.

We were also impressed with the level of candor exhibited by the debaters. We would have liked to have seen some real statesmanship, some sweepingly-concise, obviously right-on directions to guide us from here. Kucinch came closest. Richardson and Kucinich bit into the tough questions with tough answers, the kind that would move our nation forward.

Obama and Edwards each also had equally great moments. Obama differentiated himself very well and offers the newest themes, free of the afflictions of those who supported war in Iraq.

Clinton seemed too concerned about slipping in the polls, and was particualarly disappointing when she essentially endorsed Bush's read on the pre-war intelligence and was superficial on most issues. Yet she handled "Bill's possible role" superbly.

Gravel and Biden had some flashes, Biden was right on about Darfur but too strident over boycotting the next Olympics in Beijing. We were disappointed in his short-sighted reasoning in joining George Bush in the funding bill. Kucinich was right on there. Dodd seemed a bit like an "also ran." He was least inspiring.

None addressed the ramifications of our current course with world-views now in collision on so many fronts, nationalism, hegemony, empire, religion, and what it will take in the way of cultural changes to bring and end to organized terrorism. There was nothing like Roosevelt's inspiring "...the only thing we have to fear is fear itself." Is this too much to ask?

Roosevelt's more complete statement in context shows his remarkable foresight for our times:

This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.

This is as precisely true in our times as it was in 1932. Have we forgotten our history? And where is our perspective for who and where we are? We saw too little.

Neverthless, a positive result of the format used for this debate is that, overall, the candidates seemed freer of the common-place platitudes politicians mouth to stay out of trouble instead of projecting clear and inspiring ideas. There was more inspiration flowing from most of the candidates than we can recall from previous election debates. We applaud the organizers.