Friday, February 27, 2004

More Buzz: Is Pappas ready for Prime Time?

In tonight's Public Affairs show, airing in Bannockburn, Deerfield, Ft. Sheridan, Glencoe, Highland Park, Highwood, Kenilworth, Lincolnshire, Riverwoods and Winnetka at 8:30 pm on Ch. 19, we air video-clips of 13 U. S. Senate candidates at the Feb. 4, 2004, WBEZ Chicago Public Radio, 91.5 FM Chicago, Republican and Democratic Senate Candidate Forums. The most interesting and disturbing clip comes early on in the Democratic Forum and in our show when the Daily Herald's Madeleine Doubek asked candidate Maria Pappas: What should the United States do to lessen its dependence on foreign oil?

Pappas, who was the only candidate who brought a binder of some significant size with her into the forum, looked intensely through the binder [as picked-up by the Public Affairs camera] before throwing out a lot of words in what appeared to be almost random groupings. Further, the binder seemed to occupy Pappas' time during other portions of the Forum.

Maria Pappas: I think that when we look at foreign oil we need basically to enter in to-- in all of our foreign trade agreements, and whatever it is that we're doing foreign-wise, look very specifically at who it is that we are working with. I know that there are several proposals on the table looking very much at what it is that we might do in Alaska and I'm not sure that that provides any cure, but we have to impose upon those countries that we're dealing with and getting the oil from restrictions in terms of how it is that they are handling not only their workers at home but their environment as well.

Doubek: Would you have voted on the bill to allow drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife refuge in Alaska and if so, why?

Pappas: I would have opposed that and the reason for my opposing that would have been that it would have taken at least 10 years to have gotten anything here to Americans. The congressional persons that are acting up there, in fact, looking at the oil and wanting it for China.

So we need to look at the environment, and we need to look at our seals and our air and everything in Alaska to preserve the Rotunda as the jewel that it currently exists and is. So, I would not actually be in favor of drilling there. 90% of the Coastal Lands west of the Arctic---

Steve Edwards: That's time.

Maria Pappas, Chicago Public Radio, WBEZ 91.5 FM Chicago, Democratic U. S. Senate Candidate Forum, Feb. 4, 2004, as cablecast on "Public Affairs," in 34 suburbs on Comcast Cable during the week of February 23 and as to be cablecast in the City of Chicago on Monday night, March 1 at 8:30 pm on Ch. 21, CANTV.

In addition to the garbled syntax and thoughts, there were peculiar pauses as Maria looked helplessly through her binder. When Steve Edwards, Forum and "848" WBEZ program host said "That's time," it seemed that everybody in the room breathed a sigh of relief that that moment was over. How embarrassing for all concerned. Although Maria's competitors all want to win, at the end of the day, these are all good people and nobody wants to see another candidate humiliate herself.

[For transcripts of additional portions of the WBEZ forums, See the early February archives for Eric Zorn's blog at]

And yet, at other times in Senate candidate forums, the well known ability of Pappas to connect with voters, listeners and viewers manifests itself. However, until she sits down with Berkowitz or some other tough, but fair, interviewer and responds well to a grilling on the issues, doubts will continue as to whether Pappas has the requisite command of the domestic and foreign policy issues that every senator should have. Of course, the same can be [and is being] said, albeit to a lesser extent, about Dan Hynes and some of the other senate candidates.