Monday, October 1, 2012

Debatable Conduct

There are few things in life that are not debatable. One of them is the forecast for political news events in America through the end of this year. That timetable is packed - especially over the next five weeks.

To start with, there will be plenty of debates between Congressional candidates between now and election day. Bob Kerrey and Deb Fischer have already had two debates, with another scheduled for tonight. Sen. Claire McKaskill and Rep. Todd Akin have also had their first debate, which didn't go quite so well for Akin. The first presidential debate between President Obama and Mitt Romney will happen on Wednesday night. Finally, the ultimate forum for formal debate, the Supreme Court, is back in session this week.

In short, Americans have a lot to discuss, though it seems we're often reluctant to actually say anything of value at all in our political debates. HBO's 'The Newsroom' pointed out this summer, more clearly than ever, that the current American presidential debate format isn't really set up to address any ideas seriously, good or bad.

What's worse, in our current American political atmosphere, once a candidate has said something significant - especially if it's bad - too many people tend to just keep shoveling the lies down their political gullet, reluctantly swallowing the party line instead of standing up and debating even whether that's the right thing to do.

On Sunday, it was a surprise to see New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie - who usually seems to swallow almost everything in front of him that's edible - unwilling to swallow and regurgitate the new Republican Party line on Akin.

Akin, in case you'd forgotten, is the House backbencher from Missouri who stated earlier this year that some kinds of rape are effectively justified. On Friday, Akin got into more trouble, saying he opposed the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act that was the first piece of legislation President Obama signed into law. This was just a day after Akin had misogynistically whined that McKaskill's debate performance wasn't really "ladylike."

Gov. Christie made his position clear on ABC's 'This Week' saying that the Republican Party should NOT be behind Akin after the "reprehensible" comments from the Missouri legislator. While we disagree with most of Christie's policies and style, at least he showed he was his own man.

Bob Kerry did something similar in his Friday debate performance against Deb Fischer.

Kerrey refused to repeat strictly Democratic party lines, as he assertively questioned Fischer on both issues of spending and taxation, and on the issue of earned benefits like Social Security and Medicare. Fischer's 'solutions' - if they could be called that - were nothing more than boilerplate GOP rhetoric. Fischer may as well have had Karl Rove and Grover Norquist pulling all her strings from the rafters.

Kerrey spoke out in the debate, noting what common-sense clear-headed Nebraskans have said for years is really undebatable: That our government MUST take in more revenue to pay down our bills AND we must find ways to cut unnecessary expenses from those earned benefit programs, at the same time. Not surprisingly, Fischer just continued spouting the extremist right-wing slogans she'd obviously been force-fed.

We'd love to see a real debate tonight between Kerrey and Fischer, and another this Wednesday between President Obama and Mr. Romney, of the kind outlined in 'The Newsroom'. We're just not going to hold our breath it'll happen.

No comments:

Post a Comment