The Flathead Valley’s Leading Independent Journal of Observation, Analysis, & Opinion. © James R. Conner.


25 September 2012

Initial reaction, Gillan-Daines debate

I don’t agree with Steve Daines on policy, but I found I liked the guy. He appeared relaxed, quietly confident, well informed, articulate, and likable.

Kim Gillan was equally well informed, but not as articulate and clearly had been prepped to hammer home her talking points regardless of the question asked. She missed no opportunity to assert she’s a problem solver, and invented a couple of opportunities as well.

Libertarian David Kaiser, who’s running a soapbox campaign, neither panicked nor did anything to take votes from Daines. Compared to Gillan and Daines, he’s not well informed. On the other hand, he’s taking his case to the voters in a time honored way instead of sitting at the kitchen table carping.

Gillan did well on health care and education, while Daines provided a thoughtful answer on foreign policy, thoroughly outclassing Gillan on the subject. Gillan’s closing statement contained an egregious, gratuitous, gender identity appeal.

Gillan probably had a slight edge on substance, Daines a slight edge on style.

KUFM botched the production

The television set’s design was unique and memorable in ways that will not win awards. Gillan, sitting between the two men, suffered the most as she was directly in front of a garish, brightly lit, sharply focused background — a hideous background. She seemed a part of the background. The effect frayed my nerves. Daines benefited from a dark background, as did, to a lesser extent, Kaiser. I think Gillan should have chosen a more subdued costume, say a conservative gray suit, a light blue cotton blouse, and a brightly color scarf.

The unremarkable post-debate commentary was broadcast from a depressing room with fluorescent illumination and dozens of plaques littering the wall behind the commentators.

There’s no excuse for such a shoddy production. Missoula has professional television studios, and the university has a well regarded theatre department. There are plenty of people in Missoula who could have made the event an attractive one.

Finally, there was no audience. Why the hell not?