Tag Archives: debate


Ain’t no Lincoln. No Douglas, neither.

I’m going to try to keep this non-partisan, because I felt the same way back in the days before the Republican Party forgot what it believed.  (Oops!)

Anyway, Merriam-Webster defines “debate” thusly, and it’s the definition I recall from my school years:

a contention by words or arguments: as

a : the formal discussion of a motion before a deliberative body according to the rules of parliamentary procedure

b : a regulated discussion of a proposition between two matched sides.

The so-called presidential debates of the past few decades have been neither debates, as far as I’m concerned, nor presidential.  They have been disorganized efforts on the part of either side to put on a better show than their opponents.  Very little is debated.  In fact, based on the definitions above (accepted for a couple of centuries now), there is essentially no debate at all.  Each party throws out his or her contentions in as broad a fashion as possible, in order to avoid being pinned down about details.  There is no requirement to defend a position, as in a real debate with real substance, nor is there any true give-and-take.  Furthermore, there seems to be no requirement for accuracy.  One is permitted to fling pseudo-facts around with abandon, and some silly sense of strategy prevents them from being challenged.  Gods forbid that a candidate should look like he’s actually attacking his opponent!

Nor is there any attention to the rules of debate, which involve stating a position, listening carefully to the response, and responding thoughtfully to it — among others.

What I saw this week was a poorly-staged pair of lousy performances by a guy who is too far up in his own head to appeal to many watchers, and a would-be common man who was told by his handlers to sound passionate, and who tried to pull it off with a bluff.  I saw no statesmanship on the one side, and little apart from cool appraisal on the other.  There was no discussion.  There was nothing offered by Romney in terms of intellectual content, and little offered by Obama except that.  Neither impressed me very damn much, and I’d be disappointed with my candidate regardless of which side I was on.

Unfortunately, in the current vapid atmosphere that pervades TV-land, arm-waving seems to have prevailed; I think mostly because the other guy didn’t project anything that the reality-TV watchers could relate to.  At least they understand arm-waving.

I wish Sarah Palin was back on the campaign trail.  At least she was entertaining.


*But yes, I’ll probably watch the next one.  Hope springs eternal…

A Few Words About Unskillful Thinking In Political Discourse

It’s always a mistake to sell the other side short.  There is no question in my mind about the sincerity of the great majority on both sides of the political fence.  Whether the ideas are based on religious belief, differing economic theories or whatever, whether we agree or not, whether we think them wonderful, crazy, or just plain wrong, there is no reason to doubt that most of us are good people who are doing what we believe to be right — regardless of whether we are liberal or conservative.  Those labels alone are inaccurate.  No one is totally one or the other.  People who abhor the thought of abortion use birth control.  People who call this a welfare state contribute to charitable causes.  And all of us are, to a degree, hypocrites.  None of us live up to the beliefs we claim 100%.

I am seriously put off by the common acceptance of the idea that Conservatives/Liberals are nuts, or trying to run other people’s lives, or whatever.  While those things may be true from our point of view (or theirs), they are no more deserving of attention than are convictions to the contrary.  They’re just differing opinions about how the country should be governed, and how its moral direction should be determined, and demonizing those who think that way simply prevents us from learning from each other.

It’s the refusal of people to see their opponents as having a point of view that may have some merit, and instead downgrading them to “ignorant,” or “stupid,” or “religious,” or “Atheist” that has led to the current state of politics.  It has to stop someplace, and it needs to begin with individuals who have sense enough to understand the difference between discomfort with another point of view and intrinsic error.

When we stop perpetuating the black and white mythology and begin to understand the shades of gray that color all human thought and interaction, we’ll be on the way to solving problems.  Thinking of our opponents as the lesser side of any question blinds us to truths, prejudices our ideas, prevents us from gleaning anything useful from people with whom we disagree, and generally marks us as same sort of ignorant folks we’re ranting about.

What a lousy show!

I’ve gotta tell ya, after thinking about if for a while, that if Obama and McCain don’t come up with a better show next week, I’m going back to my crossword puzzle.  Even a level 1 would be more interesting than those two were last night.

I heard nothing new.  McCain dredged up the same tired accusations and the same unresponsive “I know how to…” statements without once actually saying what he would do about anything.  He dragged out the same innuendo against Obama, which Barack, in turn, answered with the same explanations.  Of course there was no reason for him to say anything else, but these things have been said time and time again, responded to again and again, and they’re still boring because there’s nothing more to be said.  Even the “That one” moment wasn’t very interesting, because we already know that McCain holds Obama in contempt, so what’s new?

McCain made it clear that, despite Sarahcutie’s accusations during her carefully controlled campaign stops, he really has nothing new on Obama — and nothing that he has the balls to say to his face or in front of a TV audience — so there was an opportunity for a bit of entertainment that never happened.

I thought the format sucked, too.  It was set up in such a way that the candidates couldn’t have mixed it up even if they’d really wanted to.  It’s clear that the Republicans are afraid to let Crash go head to head with Obama, and it’s even money whether the reason is his temper, his inability to think on his feet, or both.  They’re content to have him sling shit in hopes that the wall will end up painted brown.

One thing that did come across clearly, though, is that McCain is an old man.  They should have kept him behind a podium like they did two weeks ago, instead of letting him hobble around the stage like a Boca retiree on the way to see his podiatrist.  His voice even shook several times.  The Republicans need to understand that no one in their right mind wants a 72-year-old man in charge, considering the pressures that the president faces on a daily basis, and how anyone could imagine that Palin could be anything but a pretty figurehead in the event of an emergency accession is quite beyond me.  (Ergo: that’s what they have planned for her — a figurehead whilst others run the country their way.)  Since they’re stuck with McCain for now, they need to try to keep him looking at least partially able.

Anyway, as far as being either entertaining or informative, the whole thing was a bust as far as I’m concerned.  They’d better not count on me next week.