I still haven't had a chance to watch my office's tape of the first debate yet, but last night's was pretty good. The IEA really deserve some commendation for these things. I will leave the critical dissection to Ato Kwamena Dadzie, whose breakdown is pretty good (although I was not as dazzled by Nduom and I ranked Atta-Mills a little lower).
Here was my overall verdict of each candidate:
I was pleasantly surprised by Shinehead last night. Good show. He was apparently a little more personable here than in the first debate. More importantly he really took on the questions and, more often than not, answered them. Or made good attempts at doing so. Sounded like someone with a grasp of the issues. Might need to run a fact check on some of those assertions though.
Dr. Paa Kwesi Nduom
"We are where we are..." Nduom tried to channel Obama last night, condensing big concepts into single words like 'hope', discipline' and 'peace'. Not a bad performance but was I the only one who got the feeling some of his answers were just different for the sake of being different? Choice is good but while some of his answers showed fresh-thinking, others sounded stale.
Dr. Edward Mahama
For someone barely mentioned in conversations about the first debate, Dr. Mahama was all over this one. Like an angry rash. Very vocal. Some of his proposed solutions seemed a little limited in scope though. He seems the kind of guy who would like to go from community to community, tackling problems one by one. Like a doctor, really. Sounds practical but does not good national policy make.
Professor John Evans Atta-Mills
The Good Professor was magnificent... at restating the question. I suspect that all the apɔ is in his head and that he is just a little media shy (I'm like that myself: it's probably why I write). He answered questions like they were WAEC-issued: restating the question before attempting an answer. This meant that he sometimes did not have enough time to outline solutions the way his rivals did. Not a disaster by any means but not particularly impressive either.
Overall, I think it went to Nana.
I would however advise that everyone read each party's manifesto and compare what the candidates said on camera with what they promise in print. As I have written before, any monkey in a suit can mount a podium and spit out promises.
This time it's all on camera though. I just hope that in four years time, some bright spark at one of the TV stations will dig out the debate footage and do a story on what was promised and what was delivered.