Walker and Barrett held their first debate on Friday night. Barrett was aggressive in his attacks on Walker in that contest, but Walker stood his ground in defending his record as governor over the past 18 months.Yes, and I wonder what Barrett will try to do this time. Last time, I think his strategy was to try to produce a moment, by being pretty irritating and disrespectful toward the governor. He repeatedly called him "Scott" (not "Governor") and repeatedly used confrontational phrases like "divide and conquer" (a phrase Walker once used, to which Walker opponents attribute great meaning) and "civil war" (a condition supposedly created by Walker, which Barrett likes to say he'll end). I think Barrett hoped to rile Walker and get a great video clip out of it. But Walker just ignored Barrett and answered the questions directed at him, sticking to the message: Our reforms are working. When one question turned out to be an invitation to Walker to ask Barrett a question, Walker said he didn't think the people of Wisconsin wanted to hear the candidates "bickering" and declined ask a question.
So Walker deflected Barrett in that first debate, and since then, Walker's numbers have climbed. Barrett got no traction. So what can he do tonight? The provoke-Walker strategy is terrible. It didn't work the first time, and now, you can predict Walker won't take the bait. He didn't take it the first time, and now he's seen it before. Barrett had better try looking gubernatorial. Be dignified and state your principles and policies in an intelligent, persuasive manner. It's not going to shake things up, and it's not likely to lead to a victory in next week's election. (Barrett is way behind in the polls.) But at least he can lose gracefully, and he can begin rebuilding the Democratic Party's reputation in Wisconsin. After the siege of the Capitol, the teachers and the fake sick-out notes, the fleeblagging to Illinois, the Hitler posters, etc. etc., show us some maturity and depth... including some depth about what their policies actually are. Last time, Barrett kept talking about how he would "focus" and "set priorities" and sit down with people and discuss what might be done. Let's have some substance. Dignified substance.
And stop trying to make "Scott" lose his cool. It's not going to happen. And it's not very gubernatorial.
Will I be live-blogging? If I and the internet live until 9 this evening, with our faculties intact, I sure will.