"There are so many agreements between us"


So said Green Party presidential nominee David Cobb last night, referring to none other than Libertarian Party hopeful Michael Badnarik, with whom he had shared a startlingly collegial and friendly presidential debate at the Sts. Cyril and Methodius Church on 41st St. past 10th Avenue. Which, as those of you who are familiar with Manhattan might know, is located in what might fairly be described as East Hoboken.

Street closures and protesters delayed my arrival by 80 minutes, which meant I missed whatever press conference they held. This was what it looked like when I showed up:

Together at last! Inside were about 100 people, with Badnarik seeming to hold a slight edge in both head-count and signs, plus ignored card tables full of stickers and pamphlets. Like this one:

(For some actually competent photography, make sure to scroll down to the Lowney/Blair post below). Anyway, I only missed half of the first question, and the debate was cordial and earnest and even fun. Both men were very deferential toward one another, and shied away from some obvious disagreements, while (Cobb especially) taking pains to emphasize each near-agreement, even if the only consensus was (as Badnarik put it once) that they both wanted people to be happy. Common ground was successfully discovered on ballot-access issues, marijuana legalization, scaling back "corporate rights," and on the major-party candidates' cowardice in not showing up as invited to the debate.

And both answered an important question -- what would they do in their first day of office? -- the exact same way: They would bring our boys home safely from Iraq. Well, not the exact same way; Cobb added that he'd start the wheels of universal single-payer health care rolling, and, um, free Leonard Peltier. (Said in response to seeing the man below, who arrived just as I did, with two rolled up pieces of bland cardboard under his arms, which he then proceeded to decorate and march slowly around during the otherwise sedentary event.)

Meanwhile, Badnarik, who up to that climactic point had come across like a pleasantly charismatic, occasionally funny, and somewhat pedantic constitutional teacher, added to his first day's agenda "Shutting down the Federal Reserve" and "stop printing paper money." The crowd, which had laughed heartily at his previous jokes about reserving the Death Penalty for people who try to rob him when he's at an ATM, reacted with puzzled murmurs.

Afterwards, little knots of opposing partisans would meet and ask each other gentle questions brimming with curiosity and wonder, as if trying to find out what E.T. needed to keep breathing. A good time was had by most, and C-SPAN had a camera crew, so you can soon watch the debate on a television near you.