Was Scott Lee Cohen Drunk at IL Gubernatorial Debate?

On Thursday, the Free and Equal Elections Foundation held a debate for Illinois' gubernatorial candidates at Chicago State University. Five third party and independent candidates for the office participated in the forum, which the Democratic and Republican candidates opted not to attend, likely out of fear that doing so would raise the profile of the event, thus drawing attention to the fact that there are indeed viable alternatives to the nominees of the Democratic and Republican parties. As Joe Biesk wrote for the South Town Star in his report on the debate:

Pat Quinn or Bill Brady. Democrat or Republican. Illinois voters looking for another option in this November's governor's race - say a candidate from a political party that hasn't had a governor federally indicted in the past decade - have some choices.

On hand for the event were Green Party candidate Rich Whitney, Libertarian Lex Green, Michael White of the Constitution Party, Independent William Doc Walls and Independent Scott Lee Cohen. At this point, I've only had the chance to watch the first thirty minutes of the debate, which lasted almost two hours, so perhaps another more substantive post on the event will soon follow. But after listening to the candidates' opening statements, I found myself wondering if Scott Lee Cohen was a bit tipsy. Scott Lee Cohen is likely the best known individual in the group. The Democrat-turned-Independent won the Democratic primary for the position of Lt. Governor earlier this year, but withdrew from the race following revelations and allegations of domestic abuse and drug use, among other things. Soon after, Cohen declared that he would seek the office of governor as an independent, and has now filed the requisite paperwork.

In shirt sleeves, with a loose tie and a goofy smile, Cohen's appearance and demeanor was strikingly different from that of his rivals. His speech seemed slurred at times. But perhaps the former is nothing more than a matter of style, and the latter an effect of the medium itself (i.e. video with non-optimal audio at Free and Equal's website). In his two minute opening statement, Cohen addressed his falling out with the Democratic Party, criticized the incumbent Democratic governor Pat Quinn and argued that the state should be run like a business rather than a patronage machine. However, in those 120 seconds, he also managed to make no less than three embarrassing verbal blunders and stumbles:
• Cohen began by thanking the organizers of the debate, namely, Christine Tobin and the Free and Equal Foundation. Cohen: "Good evening, I'd like to start by thanking Christine for forming the organization, Free and Access, I believe that the choice, your choice to vote is very important this November . . ."

• Cohen went on to address his falling out with the Democratic Party, arguing that he is not a professional politician, but rather a political outsider. Cohen: "I wanted to lead the people in an honest and fair way, I didn't want to be beholden to anybody for any reason . . . the Demoprat, the Democratic Party couldn't stand that."

• Cohen then outlined the problems facing the state, and the Democratic governor's unwillingness to confront them. Cohen: "Right now Illinois has an 11.6% unemployment rate and a $14 billion deficit. Yet governor Quinn is handing out raises to his employees, and his staff, like handing children to a candy, candy to a chill- child."
Aside from the eventual self-correction and delivery, the latter would surely have been a worthy blunder even for former President George W. Bush. Could Scott Lee Cohen be presidential material? Though he continued to misspeak in answering the initial questions of the debate, Cohen seemed to come into his stride, and one could begin to understand his popularity among Democrats – or was he just sobering up? You tell me. The full debate can be found here at Free and Equal. Cohen's opening statement begins roughly 11 minutes and 10 seconds in to the video.


Anonymous said...

I am amazed that you are able to write a review on an event that (1) you did not attend and (2) you only watched 30 min of the 2 hrs worth of footage. Instead of concentrating on personal attacks on one of the 5 who took the time to respectfully show up to this debate, you may have considered reporting on the importance and theme of this debate, which was to promote free and equal ballot access. Secondly this debate was held in a historically black institution and well attended by the student body (as well as sponosored by both Latino/African American student organizations and fraternity). Its refreshing to see that the youth of today have such concern and are active in this process. I applaud Free and Equal and the students of Chgo State for providing this venue, and would like to add that the room this debate was help in was especially warm, thus many people had to loosen their ties. No harm in that.

d.eris said...

Are you a Scott Lee Cohen-bot? People write reports on events they don't attend all the time. Unfortunately, I haven't yet had time to watch the whole debate. You sound like you're well informed on this matter, maybe you were even there. Write a report on the debate that meets your particular standards and send it to me, and if it meets my standards, I will publish it here and at Third Party and Independent Daily.

damoneris at gmail.com

d.eris said...

Actually, if you are interested in maintaining your anonymity, feel free to write up that report and just copy it into the comments here, which I will then publish in separate posts.