Thursday, October 27, 2011

Take America back: Boycott the debates

Jon Huntsman boycotted the Nevada debate to protest Nevada’s decision to move up its caucuses to January. (They changed their minds.) Said here that Newt Gingrich’s rant at Charlie Rose at the Dartmouth debate, which boosted Gingrich into the mainstream, would have given him a Marlon Brando moment had he boycotted the Bloomberg/Washington Post fashion show altogether. Now Rick Perry says he may boycott the upcoming events. He should. Gingrich as well. Debates don’t indicate who will be a good President. They tell who will do well on the lucrative lecture and fundraising circuit after their Presidency. Ask Bill Clinton, he of the 50 gold watches.

"All they're interested in is stirring up between the candidates instead of really talking about the issues that are important to the American people," Perry said of Fox.

The GOP debate drama rewards style over substance, said the Washington Post’s conservative columnist Kathleen Parker. The operative maxim in cable television can be summed up as follows: Is it good TV?

“Brilliant is good but not enough,” she said. “Attractive is imperative but not enough. Also needed are tension, conflict and passion. Television is visual storytelling, and it doesn't succeed without all elements working in sync with the additional demands of the human eye.”

“Now we judge a candidate's worthiness for public office as much according to his stage performance as by his plan to balance the budget. Scorecards include hair, makeup, wardrobe and body language. In other words, the leader of the free world has to be someone we want to watch. Is he or she good TV?”

Anyone who has ever lived in Silver Spring, Alexandria or any of the other regions of Washington might recall regular visits from the FBI to run clearance checks on neighbors seeking work for the government. Undoubtedly they will look at college transcripts as well. And arrest records. And all sorts of things. But for the most sensitive and fateful positions, presidents and vice presidents, we have debates.

It is political theater. And it has brought some who appeared dangerously unstable to the Presidency, some compulsive and twisted and it has made us Americans apologists for all of these things.

The entire primary thing should be reviewed. Jimmy Carter and James Baker came up with a much better program a few years ago but it was ignored.

America is not a game show. Those who comply with the host, Romney and Bachmann in particular, show a fawning conformity; a desire to meet those standards set by pundits, ad men and advertisers. It drags America down to the lowest possible standard.

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