Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Whacking the Knees of the Mayoral Debate

For those of us who have been spending many waking hours trying to prepare for a series of city councilor candidates forums -- er, fora -- and debate, lots of those hours are spent figuring out the logistics: what days venues are available; religious holidays to avoid; candidate appearance schedules; food and drink for attendees and setup/cleanup crew; arranging for, and setting up, the sound system; publicity; setting the format; arranging the hall, including tables and/or podiums; convincing someone to take audio and/or video, then getting it online; talking with people and researching questions; etc. And then actually running the event that night.

A lot of work, only a small amount of which is substantive about city and neighborhood issues.

John Carroll watched the debate last night between incumbent Mayor Thomas Menino and challenger Councilor-At-Large Michael Flaherty and has some sharp criticism of the event. Carroll, a professor of mass communications at Boston University, can always be counted on to see through the clutter and posturing to judge how effective the various tools of the media work -- or don't -- to further the political process.

Two thumbs up for Carroll, who invented a new term by saying that he was "dead blogging" the event, i.e., to wait until the event is over to write about it. He brings in analogies to trailer parks ("doublewide podiums"), Halloween ("Spooky World" lighting), arcade games (so many moderators "had sort of a pinball effect on the proceedings"), and Homer's Odyssey (Menino was more incoherent than usual, such that he was "totally channeling James Joyce").

And then the coup de grĂ¢ce:
Was the most uncomfortable moment of the night when Menino was pressed about the lack of diversity in his administration by an all-white panel of journalists?
Ouch. Clever, biting, sarcastic... but totally fair criticism. I only hope Carroll doesn't watch our district 9 city councilor debate tonight, sponsored by the Brighton Allston Improvement Association.

Image of Menino [left] and Flaherty [right] taken from a screen capture of NECN's video feed of the debate.

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