The McKenna-Inslee Debate: Crosscut pundits face off

Crosscut contributors John Carlson and Knute Berger may have watched the debate from two different locations, but kept up a running real-time back-and-forth commentary Thursday night's gubernatorial debate.
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Knute Berger and John Carlson: Wrestling with the truth.

Crosscut contributors John Carlson and Knute Berger may have watched the debate from two different locations, but kept up a running real-time back-and-forth commentary Thursday night's gubernatorial debate.

According to Pew Internet and American Life, an increasing percentage of Americans watched the summer Olympics on TV while also following the events on social media. We get it. You sit in the living room with your laptop, commenting on and chatting with others around the country about big made-for-television events.

So we decided to join in. We asked John Carlson and Skip Berger to demonstrate during last night's televised Rob McKenna-Jay Inslee debate. The resulting back-and-forth was smart, quick and to-the-point. And a few even made us chuckle. 


9 p.m: The debate begins.

Knute Berger, 9:01 p.m: Hey John, you there?

John Carlson, 9:03 pm: Ready to roll! 

KB, 9:05 pm: Greg Nickels only wanted Seattle to be a "world class city," but Inslee says we're "destined" to lead the world. Really?

JC, 9:06 pm: Jay just said that he has no plans to raise taxes.  First opening for McKenna:  He should point out that both Chris Gregoire and Mike Lowry said the same thing when they ran.....before they tried to raise taxes.

JC, 9:09 pm: Look at the camera Rob. That's where the people are. 

KB, 9:10: McKenna came out very wonky; Inslee clearly wants to be the aspirational guy. Mr. Optimism.

KB, 9:12: Jean asks the key question. Let's hear about the cuts, let's be realistic about revenue.
JC, 9:16 pm: Jay is being shallow. Rob too wonky. No one has broken out yet. 
Second opening for McKenna. Nail Inslee on the arrogance of having the government pick winners and losers. 
JC, 9:17 pm: "not have politicians picking winners and losers." First jab, McKenna.
KB, 9:19 pm: We already pick winners and losers, which is why we do so many favors for Boeing and Microsoft. I think Inslee's future focus has appeal, but the risk is creating more "loopholes."
KB, 9:20 pm: Here's the next jab: Jay bought stock in company he touted. 
JC, 9:25 pm: Oh, good. Time for a showdown on whether we should expand Medicaid.
KB, 9:25 pm: I think Inslee does a better job of showing how reducing/controlling healthcare costs impacts the economy, and why Obamacare will be a net benefit. 
KB, 9:27 pm: Jay's attack on the so-called "tax increase" and McKenna's defense--trying to explain it--is way too complicated.
JC, 9:29 pm: To his credit, Jay is doing a better job of keeping to his time than anyone running for President or Vice President. 
KB, 9:32 pm: I think Jay wins on the women's rights and health issues. He's effective, credible. McKenna is too technical, talking about upholding laws, which he sounds like something he "has" to do, not something he really believes in.
JC, 9:34 pm: Jay started strong, Rob finished strong.  When your opponent relies on something "half true" or not true, nail 'em on it.
JC, 9:35 pm: Amazing that Jay is willing to expose Washington to dramatically higher Medicaid costs after three years, when our biggest challenge over the last 10 years is exploding health costs.
KB, 9:36 pm: I think Jay wins on the health care lawsuit. McKenna can't run away from that, and I think he started sinking in the polls after the Supreme Court upheld Obamacare, however you parse it.
JC, 9:37 pm: 40 minutes in and no Biden smirks from either many so far.......
The elephant in the room on the marijuana initiative:  pot remains illegal under federal law.
KB, 9:41 pm: I'm waiting for Rob to go Gangnam.
The pot argument was interesting--and I think Inslee made the best point about re-directing law enforcement resources on pot.
JC: I am so glad that Gangnam wasn't a trend 12 years ago.  So is my wife.
KB: I really squirm when Inslee talks about transforming state government based on LEAN management. Booth Gardner brought us management by walking around, Locke had TQM. You can improve at margins only.
JC, 9:43 pm: Here is Rob's biggest opening yet:  Jay is virtually indistinguishable from Chris Gregoire:  Same party, same priorities, same positions.  Hit. Him. On. It. 
KB, 9:45 pm: Hmm. McKenna hit Inslee for being an outsider (on education, not being up to speed), but otherwise he's a total insider. Which is it?
JC, 9:45 pm: Softball from Jean E. on how Rob will work with the Democrats.
KB: Enerson pitches slow fat one to McKenna on bipartisanship.
Rob tries to make Inslee seem like Jim McDermott. This is a guy who's represented Eastern WA.
JC: They're talking the tanker issue.  Please Jay, the tanker was landed by Norm Dicks and Patty Murray.
Both answered the bipartisan issue well.
KB, 9:49 pm: Tanker: A great example of not picking winners and losers in the private sector?
JC, 9:50 pm: Yes, he did represent eastern Wa in Congress.   For one term.
KB, 9:50 pm: Agreed
JC, 9:51 pm: Is Jay going soft on gun control?  Paging Adam Kline.
KB, 9:53 pm: Inslee on income tax: I know that third-rail is electric!
KB, 9:55 pm: Inslee's "75 Point Plan" sounds like the cover of Seattle Magazine. But it sells.
JC, 9:56 pm: Rob close is spot on. He wisely knows that dominating the Republican vote, and winning a clear majority among Independents isn't enough. He needs about one in five Democrats.
OK, Skip, who do you think won?
KB, 10:00 pm: I thought McKenna was right not to go as negative as he did in the last debate; Jay had great eye contact, but his answers seem soft where Rob's seem too wonky.
JC, 9:59 pm: I will give the decision to Rob on points. But no knockout or knockdowns. I think they should debate again, with Skip and me as panelists.
Thanks everyone!
KB, 10:03 pm: Jock vs. Nerd isn't quite right. What is it? Nerd vs. Joe Gandy?
KB, 10:04 pm: Slight edge to Inslee, but basically a draw. But maybe I've watched too many debates.

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About the Authors & Contributors

Knute Berger

Knute Berger

Knute “Mossback” Berger is Crosscut's Editor-at-Large.