Style over Substance in the Presidential Debate

 

To be honest, I did not watch for very long the Presidential debate last night, because I was quite sure I would only hear what I’d already heard a great many times from reading Facebook posts and articles in news sources, hearing personal comments from friends and relatives and seeing political ads on TV. Five minutes of the debate was all I could stand, because Obama compared his economy policies to that of President Clinton before him, which I already knew about. Neither candidate impressed me much.

I was therefore surprised to learn afterwards that most people thought Romney won the debate because he was more aggressive and charismatic than Obama, never mind that before Obama became President he was known for being quite charismatic. So what happened?

I could not care less how slick a person’s presentation may look or sound if it is full of nonsense or lies. You win a debate, in my view, by doing two things: Telling the truth consistently, and having a position that treats fairly the most people possible. And by that criteria, Obama is the superior candidate. If people vote for Romney and not Obama because one of them is better at the gift of gab, why not just elect someone like Hitler, who was one of the most dynamic speakers of the 20th Century?

 

The Republican Party is broken and must be scrapped

While the Democrats are firmly united under President Barack Obama, the Republican Party has been badly split among its Presidental candidates. After some of the loonier and less competent candidates have quit, there remain:

  1. Mitt Romney, a moderate with a genuine track record of success, but also a Mormon.
  2. Rick Santorum, an extremist appealing to the Religious Right bigots
  3. Newt Gingrinch, whose instant name recognition and deep well of experience is marred by his hypocrisy and public failures.
  4. Ron Paul, who professes libertarianism and a strict Constructionist view of the U S Constitution, but he is just too old to be a viable President. His son Rand Paul is a Senator and he might run for President later, and he is indentified with the Tea Party zealots.

Notice what all these current front runners have in common? THEY ARE ALL WHITE MEN! And that is really all the Republicans are appealing to these days, as well as Christian bigots. And these different candidates are engaged in a brutal fight for the nomination that is splitting the party up.

Four years ago, there was a simular fight between Hiliary Clinton and Barack Obama. Hiliary had a slight advantage because of her previous position as First Lady, while Obama was still only serving his first term as a Senator, so by all appearances Hiliary should have trounced Obama quickly. But in fact she did not, because blacks were so eagar to get one of their own as President that they pushed hard for him. Likewise, women wanting one of their own as President pushed hard for Hiliary. Blacks and liberal women are two of the Democratic Party’s strongest constituencies. The result was a battle that lasted for months and threated to severely damage the Democrats’ chances at winning in 2008.  And yet in the end the Democrats were so determined to defeat the Republicans who had disgraced themselves so badly under Bush Jr that they were able to put  aside their differences and win the election.

So why can’t the Republicans do the same and thus win this year? Because the differences between the front-runners are trivial compared to their simularities, yet they fight bitterly. In addition, all of them are appealing to a core constituency, white males, who are no longer the overwhelmingly dominant segment of the American population, even though they are still slightly more privileged than those who are non-white and/or female. The fact that John McCain lost in 2008 to Obama should have showed the futility of continuing to appeal to a base that is growing impotent. But the Republicans have not learned how to grow and diversify, have they?

So keep losing, Republicans! In a few more decades your party will be irrelevant! Like the Ku Klux Klan is now.