Bourgeois Deviant

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Master Debaters

OMFG! How many more Democratic debates can we have? There has been a challenge issued from the Clinton camp to have a debate hosted by Fox. Given the biases of the host, you can well imagine how substantive the discourse of the conversation will be relative to informing the electorate's decision for a Democratic nominee, let alone President. While I am all for thorough vetting of candidates, out-of-the-box thinking needs to be applied post-haste in this field if debates are to continue to catch our attention. Allow me to posit the following...

I have read other bloggers who have, quite reasonably, advocated (or demanded) debates moderated not by journalists but bonafied conservative or progressive thinkers, pundits and the like. To wit, having a Democratic and/or Republican debate hosted by Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert would be brilliant. Other moderator/hosts who come to mind are: William F. Buckley and Gore Vidal, Noam Chomsky, Al Gore, Pat Buchanan, John McLaughlin, Ann Coulter and Tina Fey, Wynton Marsalis, Bill Cosby, Bill Maher, Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, any prominent poli-blogger (Kos, Atrios, Sullivan, etc...) ... The list could go on for pages. Oh, and me. I want to have a debate too.

When Ralph Nader ran for President in 2000, he rationalized a Bush victory due to Nader leeching of votes away from Gore by stating that it would reinvigorate progressive voters and call attention to the important issues that the Republicans are, from the progressive perspective, so wrong on. Sadly, I don't think his prediction was the case. By some accounts, the Republican Party is now imploding thanks in large part to the unconstitutional and, arguably, criminal behavior of the Bush Administration. But a exponential short term loss for a long term gain does not a justification make for Mr. Nader.

Record turnouts in the primaries and caucuses thus far have shown that people are paying attention. The electorate is invested, motivated and participating like the nation has not seen in, perhaps, a generation. Still, having yet another debate hosted by yet another news entity (albeit decidedly "other" relative to their piers) is dulling the effect of the political process. Sadly, policy and personal convictions are not enough to hold an audience over time. The institution that is American Democracy would do well to take up a bit more self deprecation beyond the White House Correspondents' Dinner and individuals' appearances on various late night talk shows.

There is everything to gain in being informing and entertaining (by incongruity of context or genre) at the same time. The popularity of The Daily Show, et. al., bolstered by analysis showing that a significant percentage of people get their news content from it and the actual facts presented are approximately equal to those of the regular network news programs validates the concept. Its an innovation we need, would welcome and would work.

Oh, and dig this:
Breaking News 12:19 PM ET: Romney Is Suspending Run, According to Campaign Sources. (NYT)
Suck it Romney.

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