WBZ-TV hosted the first televised debate for the Massachusetts's special election being held on January 19th.  The full video can be found on the WBZ archives.

My impressions for each candidate. 

Scott Brown (R):   Mr. Brown has demonstrated his polish and was extremely smooth, on message and confident.  While he generally espoused traditional Republican talking points about taxes, jobs and fiscal responsibility there was a very obvious and underlying big government aura about him.  On one particular question about single mothers he mentioned offering government assistance, training and education while in the same breath talking about tax cuts - a contradiction in terms.   Just like staying in Afghanistan indefinitely, Brown offers nothing new from the standard GOP platform yet used his political skills to sound very appealing to fiscal conservatives.  Truth is Brown's record demonstrates that as far as lowering taxes he has been missing in action.  He can claim that he never voted for a tax increase, but he also never voted for a tax decrease and his support of RomneyCare simply solidifies his big government stance - a stance that many Massachusetts residents are ignorant of. 

Martha Coakley (D):   Mrs. Coakley was also on message and will be very appealing to big government liberals.  She was very respectful to Mr. Kennedy, most likely because she sees him as an ally in siphoning votes from Brown and delivered her ideas eloquently and effectively.  There is hardly anything negative to say about Coakley, a candidate who is very honest about her socialized medicine, cap-and-trade and wealth distribution approaches. 

Joe Kennedy (I):  Mr. Kennedy definitely stands out against the two seasoned politicians and comes across as nervous, closed off and reserved.  Of course plunging head first into a nationally televised debate is extraordinary difficult for someone who spends his life in the private sector and the disadvantage is apparent.   That being said, Kennedy did attempt to distinguish himself from the two seasoned politicians and was mildly effective.  Unfortunately it seemed like Kennedy fell into the trap of discussing and debating issues that are entirely irrelevant to Kennedy's fundamental message.  There were several opportunities where the question should have been and could have been flipped to deliver a small government message and instead were wasted on technicalities that were too complicated.  A perfect example involved the health care question, an area where government intervention has lead to out of control costs involving federal work subsidies, Medicare, Medicaid, FDA not to mention legislation that created the much hated HMOs.  Instead Kennedy chose to discuss tort reform instead of promising to repeal the coming ObamaCare and removing federal intrusion in a system that has suffered from government intervention for almost 50 years.   Other than several poignant attacks on Scott Brown that were effective, Kennedy's message was muddled and lost with no clear solutions.  I did like the mention of America losing it's AAA bond rating, but it most likely went over people's heads.

Overall:  For anyone seeking a break from the two party system, a system that has essentially delivered us one unified party interested in expanding federal intrusion into our lives, this debate left us yearning for more.  Kennedy is an attractive choice for those that believe government has become too large, too fat and too wasteful.  However the smooth Scott Brown and equally comfortable Martha Coakley stole the show with smooth evasive answers, undermining Kennedy's presernce entirely and paying lip service through political finesse acquired over years of public service.  My hope is that Joe Kennedy can, in the future, hone in on his small government message and provide real attractive solutions like cutting enough spending to end the income tax or making Social Security optional.  Still, a nice and welcomed change to at least have a second option in a two party system offering the same big government proposals.

"It is no crime to be ignorant of economics, which is, after all, a specialized discipline and one that most people consider to be a ‘dismal science.’ But it is totally irresponsible to have a loud and vociferous opinion on economic subjects while remaining in this state of ignorance.” - M. Rothbard