A few final notes from Grist’s presidential climate forum, before (?) you get sick of me talking about it.

Most memorable bits:

  • Dennis Kucinich mentioning, at the very top of his speech, that he’s a vegan. I heard the sound of thousands (or at least a dozen extremely vocal) Grist readers swooning.
  • Kucinich offering every American a guaranteed minimum income, and coal miners in particular a not-mining wage equal to what they were making in the mines. Who mentions a nationwide guaranteed income as an aside?
  • Hillary Clinton unambiguously pledging that emissions at the end of her term would be lower than at the beginning.
  • Clinton hiding behind Barbara Boxer on the subject of the Lieberman-Warner bill.
  • Clinton blasting through a protestor like Schwarzenegger in The Terminator — the first one, before he became a wuss.
  • Clinton and Edwards both making a sobering point: the public is not yet nearly as exercised about climate change as greens are.

Observations:

  • Dennis Kucinich’s wife Elizabeth is, if anything, more strikingly gorgeous in person than she is in pictures. Incidentally, Kucinich himself is more impressive in person as well — hale, healthy, vigorous. It’s that vegan diet!
  • I knew that allowing the candidates to speak at length rather than quibble in soundbites would result in lower ratings and some bored pundits, but I think it was worth it.
  • Don’t believe people who say you have to wear a tie. You don’t.
  • I considered it one of my top goals to introduce the question of international climate equity into the race. I guess the need exists, because it was a bit of a flop. My impression is that nobody watching understood or cared about the question, and the candidates didn’t have good answers to it.
  • Sure would be nice to do another one of these with a different set of three candidates. I think three was a good number.
  • Right now, Dem presidential candidates are out ahead of the public and the media on the subject of climate. That’s a politically vulnerable position. It is up to greens to provide that position with fortification, not to kvetch about their caution.

Regrets:

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  • If I had it to do again, I would tweak the format of the Q&A. I’d put a hard time limit on answers — say, two minutes. On the panel of questioners, we had planned to start with fairly open-ended questions and drill down to specifics, but what ended up happening is that the candidates filibustered the questions they liked and ended up restricting the number of questions to three or four. (I had about 12 on my list.) We should have predicted that and headed it off. So many things I wish I could have asked …
  • I’d limit the panel of questioners to two people, or even one person — a person versed on the issues and capable of following up questions. As it is, we had to try to coordinate three questioners with different styles; none of us felt totally comfortable jumping in with a follow-up. It seemed greedy. As a result, the candidates didn’t get pushed very hard. One or two people could have pushed more effectively. In particular, I’m irritated I didn’t/couldn’t push Clinton harder on Lieberman-Warner.