Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Smackdown Reboot

Calhoun’s Cannons for Oct 17, 2012

Well, that old saying is true:  When you want something done right, send in a woman. In this case, two of ‘em.  Unlike Jim Lehrer, Martha Raddatz and Candy Crowley managed to do the impossible: Keep two circling sleek, well-dressed, surface-polite Dobermans from peeing on each others shoes.

As theatre of the absurd, you can’t beat our Presidential Debates, Town Hall Version.  The beautiful stage, the hand-picked, rehearsed and vetted audience, the whole thing scripted like a piece of Kabuki Theatre.  But, c’mon, America, we gotta up our game.  Here was a once-in-a-lifetime chance for Mr. John Q. Citizen to ask a serious question of both a candidate and a President, and we get some doofus whining about how the Secretary of Energy told him that it wasn’t this administration’s responsibility to do anything about gas prices and could this possibly be true, O woe?  

People, people.  Really? Gas prices?  Secretary of Energy?  This is gas-guzzler America, home of ruthless, winner-take-all capitalism, where Free Market Rules rule, where we love our price-gougers and rip-off commodity speculators, and now we have this guy on national TV whining about gas prices?  Like he thinks the President is some kind of dreary Soviet five-year planner who should take over Exxon Mobil and show up at this guy’s local Gas ‘N Go with a screw driver to reset pump prices? Oh, Plueeze.

But that’s how much of the evening went, hand-picked questions that allowed the candidates to conveniently hang themselves in velvet ropes of clichés while the real 600 pound gorillas sat quietly off stage, untouched.

Like a Republican Congress of NO with only one stated goal: Defeat Obama by any means necessary.  Pretty hard to do much of anything to help a foundering country with that millstone around your neck.  Or income disparities that are a worsening drain on the economy and a real threat to America’s unique promise: upward mobility.  Or global warming, the mother of all gorillas coming down on us fast, a gorilla that will make jobs and gas prices – and everything else – moot. Or a realistic, grown-up discussion about our gazillion-dollar debt that wasn’t full of fairy stories about how we can all make it disappear while still getting lots of tax breaks and free pudding. You know, grown-up topics that needed grown-up answers.  Instead we get whines about gas prices.

And theatre, which did have its moments. Candidate Mitt was back doing his anxious little boy routine from the first debate, fairly hopping up and down promising the moon, a long litany of,  I can do it, I can create jobs, I know how, I do, I do, I do, I know how, the middle class is crushed, I can get all the oil we need, I can do it, crushed middle class, I know how, crushed, I’ll lower the rates, crushed, millions of jobs, lower taxes, more crushed, jobs, I can, I can, plueeze, plueeze, until Crowley had to tell him to hush up and go take his seat, which he finally did.

Amusingly, Candidate Mitt’s crowded litany of his own glorious campaign promises was often juxtaposed with his long j’accuse litany of candidate Obama’s unfulfilled glorious
campaign promises of four years ago, but at no time did I ever get a sense that Mitt understood the delicious irony of those juxtapositions: The huge difference between campaign promises (past and present) and real world governance.

Not so amusing was Mitt having to be fact-checked on air by Moderator Crowley.  If there’s one thing vital in a Commander in Chief, it’s the ability to make sure he’s got the facts straight before speaking or acting.  Mitt had already gotten smacked for rushing into the initial muddle of the Libyan terrorist attack even before he knew what the facts were and here he was again, weeks later, still unclear of the events. Not good, even for an Etch-A-Sketch candidate.  Hourly changeable campaign promises are one thing; Wrong facts about terror attacks are quite another.

But Democrats were happy.  The President was awake this time and ready for a smackdown and now the media, which never met a sports metaphor it didn’t love, will be filled with zinging sound bites and fact-checking wonkery, all of which will be endlessly repeated in order to gin up ratings for the last big showdown before the Big Race. 

Which likely will be a squeaker, given how divided this country is.  But until the voters understand that if they want those 600 pound gorillas dealt with, they’ve got to vote into office a better grade of Congressmen.  If they don’t, those gorillas will still be there, growing bigger and more dangerous every year. And in a few years, when some guy stands up again to whine about gas prices, their response won’t be pretty. 




Anne R. Allen said...

This is the best description of moderating a political debate I've ever heard: "Keeping two circling sleek, well-dressed, surface-polite Dobermans from peeing on each others shoes." Brilliant!

Anne R. Allen said...

And thank you, thank you, thank you for turning off the word verification CAPTCHA. I'm not a robot. Really, truly :-)

Anonymous said...

i loved the debate.

yer pal,


Sandra Gore said...

Hey - my guy's not a Doberman. Sometimes wish he were! But he learns fast - and he listens, which is more than I can say about Mitt.
Remember the old jokes about Nixon? I mean, would you buy a used car (or hedge fund)from Mr. Slick Ken Doll?

Sandra Gore said...

Ditto on removing the CAPTCHA :)

Alon Perlman said...

Smackdown Reboot®?
Or was it “Red and Blue Rock 'um Sock 'um Robots© battle it out for the presidency of the free world™ part two”?
Have to understand *Strength* *Stamina* *Defense* and *Style* to win this last game.
Thanks, Thanks for the series entire, so far.
Though recorded, I couldn’t bring myself to watch much. Indigestion, unlike anything my real guts have experienced. First a president, competent as can be in a declining economy, but treating a debate as if it were an intellectual endeavor against an opponent who learned at least one lesson from his political debate début, in a shellacking versus Ted Kennedy long ago.
And “governance” thank you –The statesman’s job is to govern. But in an election year the politician’s job is to get reelected. (Woody Haralson has something similar to say-“Celebrity” in “Game changer”).
Speaking of the insights of “Game changer”; Watching Red and Blue Socker Boppers® (that would be the Vee Pees) later….
I think I can bare to watch Prez deb. #2 now.

Oh so much to be learned from art;
Clooney on “the future America”- the canned presidential speech circa 2011.
You got it all –Congressional blindness to the 600 lb army of Gorillas- All those self contradictory statements about a single branch of a necessarily divided and unnecessarily fractured government, “small enough to drown in a bathtub” leading a nation into a bold world governing future while holding on to every defunct every pre WWI and cold war Isolationism “Value” meme.

Somehow the president is expected to have the magic power to repair an economy in three years but doesn’t have the power to screw it up so badly in eight years (Bush) that it will take more than a decade to fix? And as if there is actually something new and different offered. The Obamacare scare tactics are the “Tell” on this stacked deck.
But what goes into the choice process?
Talking heads providing the regurgitate for the pre-chewed cud participatory experience.
But I still see mentally obese people who want the comfort food and “sameness of offering” in a triple patty bacon cheeseburger, ad campaigned as 0 caloric complete nutrition.
I fear that enough of that medulla back licking leaping lizard may show up to answer-Which (Collective) brain will show up in the voting booth come November 6th?
This was a shocker
This was well developed in a neutral stance- yet somehow reengaged me.
We are now in the twilightzone where the tipping portion of the undecided follow the group think and poll leads signal to people how to vote for what they think is the winner, because they are too confused to choose by any other criteria than they want to be on the winning team’s side, when the dust settles- as if democracy works that way (which it does), rather than the net sum of alternative rational choices (which is theoretically possible and less realizable after each reboot destroys a portion of the 238 year old initial program).
Anyway, I never got the red state blue state designation, might as well be the browns versus the yellows. Pick a color, pop the pill, quaff the potion, nibble the mushroom and jump down the rabbit hole

Kinda miss the older two garbled word captcha® codes...
Later, my fellow virtual non-robots.

Churadogs said...

Alon sez: "Somehow the president is expected to have the magic power . . . ."

I don't think many Americans really understand how our government works. It's really odd. Like that price of gasoline question. Yu hear that all the time. The Prez should "do something" about the price of gas. But if you suggest that, O.K. We'll nationalize all gasoline and set profit limits and prices nationally, the screams of COMMIE would rise to deafening levels. If you want a free market, you're gonna get a free market, and no President can do much of anything about that. Supply and demand.

Same blindness goes for expecting "the President" to "fix the economy," when in reality, it's Congress alone that must vote for stimulus money and start WPA type public projects. No money, no projects. Yet voters elect "Kill off and drown government" type Tea-Party Congressmen, or Grover Norquistian No Taxers, then when NO stimulus money arrives to kick start the economy, guess who gets whined at. Like the Prez, any Prez, has some kind of Harry Potter magic wand.

Nope, too few people seem able to connect the dots. It's We the People and if We want anything done, we've got to elect Congresspeople who actually will get 'r done.

Anonymous said...

Laughable hogwash

Alon Perlman said...

Sense of Entitlement- Part of the American dream- Anyone can pick up a phrase from their multiple in sync media, even a syndicated movie and run with it and convince themselves they are participants, entitled to win what mimics a seasoned and worked out on the spot argument, but is only a string of logically fallacious calculatedly crafted catch phrases.
Also there is the longer than two term consequences of supreme court nominations. Creationists still on Science panels.
But I'm commenting to remind people that in viewing links -

If the enlarge frame window is inoperative, you can view fullscreen by pressing f11, or fn key and f11 key simultaneously. the first link in prev. comment does explain Stamina and Style increasing with the rounds.
I am not responsible for the contents of Thomas Petterfry’s ad which appears with Explorer on the first link i posted (but not via google chrome).
This is the Atlas shrugged (I havn’t read it, seen it) “Don’t vote against Success because we will end up communist” meme.

TCG said...

No doubt trying to improve the economy and change society in four years is difficult, but another four years with this president would "not be optimal."

Alon Perlman said...

I would love if the nation or just "Us" were really having that discussion, TCG. but my point (And probably Anne's by my interpretation) is that we (The candidates, the nattering nabobs, the 'Media" really are NOT discussing it, just throwing out phrases that make it seem that this discussion is taking place.

Anonymous said...

..."Etch-A-Sketch candidate"...
how dare you defile "Etch-A-Sketch!


Churadogs said...

Caroline, yeah, I'm sure the "Etch-A-Sketch" company is having fits. On the other hand, what famous star once said she/he didn't care what they said about him/her as long as their spelled his/her name correctly. Publicity is publicity, I guess.

And, yes, TCG & Alon, that's exactly what I constantly harp on: We're not having a conversation, just repeating meaningless mantras and buzz words. Which is why everyone needs to constantly turn semanticist and keep asking, O.K. EXACTLY what does that word mean and how EXACTLY would that translate in the real world, what would that program look like, EXACTLY, how would it play out, EXACTLY. The world is like a balloon; squeeze it on one end it and bulges on the other. There's no way to simply shove something off the table(erase it) since it just moves over into some other form and will remain to bedevil you later, often far worse. Take education. You cannot "solve" the education crisis in poor communities/schools until you solve the poverty problem as well. It's one squeezie balloon. We cannot "solve" the jobs problem if we are unwilling to acknowledge that in our capitalistic economy (which has now gone global) our entire 19th century manufacturing economy just went kerblooey and it's not coming back in its old form. Ditto for the coal industry, which is getting hammered (in the capitalistic market) by cheap(er) natural gas and now renewals. So how do we transition the coal industry to move those workers elsewhere so as to not ruin millions of (coal workers') lives and communities? And so forth. There are a whole lot of realities out there the American people/the media/the Pols are simply not willing to deal with. But there they sit, the 600 lb. gorillas.