Belated Debate Notes

A few mental jottings from the past several days…

Like many I’d suppose, I watched the first presidential debate last Friday with some eager anticipation. Of what, I’m not quite sure. Short of one of the candidates spontaneously combusting on the stage of the Ole Miss. on live TV in front of millions of people — it doesn’t matter which, although the narratives would have been strikingly different (now there’s something amusing to mull over in your infinite spare time) — the possibility of anything in the least bit exciting or memorable occurring, let alone even the faint glimmer of something substantive foreign policy-wise deviating from the present misguided course of action arising out of the event, was remote to say the least.

Experience over the past thirty years has demonstrated that we can expect little to nothing but groaning disappointment and/or shoe-hurling frustration to come from these painfully staged, artfully contrived so-called “debates.” In a sense, they’re really a microcosm of what’s wrong with American “democracy” today. That’s an intriguing subject deserving of much greater elaboration than time allows just at the moment, but seeing as there will be a handful more of these wonderful, mega-hyped, once-in-a-lifetime, historic, game-show format “debates” to come before the Big Day on November 4 when the election is stolen again, we can get back to that at a more opportune time.

Truth be told, I fell asleep during the last half hour of the debate. Did I miss anything? Well you tell me. I suspect it’s rather doubtful, although CNN looped it relentlessly throughout the night, so I could perhaps have picked up the delicate nuances of semantic parsing by all concerned, examined the minutiae of body language, looked more deeply into the hidden meanings to be derived from the perceived and/or imagined “attitudes” of the candidates, and so on. That is, of course, had I actually given a shit. Which brings me to this…

The most insightful commentary on the “debate” in my opinion wasn’t to be found on the cable news networks with their assembled teams of best political “experts” judiciously sifting through the mysterious entrails of live audience reaction with microscopic precision (when they weren’t making shit up on the fly, that is), nor was it from the completely insane ramblings of the addlepated pundit corps reeling in confusion from the hactacular “spin wars” waged by hordes of greasy, bilge-spewing sycophants lying ferociously through their teeth on behalf of each side. No. It was from this irreverent little pop-stand on HBO:

Chalk it up to my current distemper maybe, but the general tenor of analytical opinion offered up with relative candor on Real Time (never was the name so apt) rang true to me. Unsurprisingly, Ralph Nader said it best when considering the “Who won, who lost” dynamic of the judgment calls that inevitably follow on the heels of these silly charades. “Militarism won. Nuclear power won. Boondoggle missile defense won. Bloated military budget won. Corporate crime won. Bailing out Wall Street crooks won. Peace advocates lost. Georgia (in USA) lost…” Well, you get the idea.

So, why do I mention this four days late after the fact? It seems to me that this is the kind of critical, no-nonsense, no-bullshit standard that we should be applying to these pathetic so-called debates. Quite honestly, I was massively disappointed on the whole by the reaction of “progressive” and “Liberal” bloggers (I didn’t bother to check out the Blithering Retards. Sorry… time and mental health constraints, you know.) who, generally speaking, seemed quite content to blithely suck up the corporate media spin and score the event on the basis of which candidate best conned the rubes or in accordance with a no-risk matrix of who “won” by appearing to be the most “presidential” or not making a major gaffe. That just really makes my heart sink. It’s so contemptible. Have we really stooped so low? God help us all if we’re really THAT fucking dumb.

7 Replies to “Belated Debate Notes”

  1. God help us all if we’re really THAT fucking dumb.

    Dumber than the people who think Lisa Schiffren should be invited to appear on the airwaves (and elsewhere in the media) and reveal herself to be a complete and fucking idiot the minute she opens her mouth? She contradicted herself in two seconds flat.

    If you want to start assigning blame, you might start with the infotainment industry that relies so very much on advertising revenue that has succeeded so fantastically at making us all distracted and dumb.

  2. Ti-Guy — I’m not assigning blame. What’s the point of that? There’s always plenty of that to spread around.

    For me, what Nader said was one of those lovely “truth to power” moments that sliced through the crap and “flummery” (as Harry Shearer calls it), completely deflating all of the ridiculous partisan spin emanating from the faux “debate”…

    How folks process that — if they even accept it as being the “truth” in the first instance — is entirely up to them.

  3. It’s just that, as a pedagogue who’s had to work with a variety people to get things done, one thing I’ve learned is that people are almost never dumb. What’s ends up looking dumb is simply a manifestation of what some people…people who know better…have led them to believe.

  4. Yes and no. In my opinion there’s deceit and mendacity on both ends of the equation. Obviously not in equivalent measures, but you can’t simply excuse people entirely for being consistently gulled and duped.

    As a former teacher (not sure why you studiously avoid that term and prefer “pedagogue” instead — perhaps that speaks volumes to something or other but is off topic here) I can’t believe you could say that “people are almost never dumb.” In general, we are all, in fact, quite spectacularly “dumb” and pleasantly gratified to be so. That doesn’t mean we’re stupid. There’s a difference.

  5. Obviously not in equivalent measures, but you can’t simply excuse people entirely for being consistently gulled and duped.

    You can fault people for taking the path of least resistance, but that’s not the same thing as being gulled or duped. In the equation between manipulator and gulled, I know who to blame.

    People can be faulted for being lazy, naive, ignorant, credulous but those who abuse those characteristics and take advantage of them are the ones who deserve condemnation.

    As a former teacher (not sure why you studiously avoid that term and prefer “pedagogue” instead — perhaps that speaks volumes to something or other but is off topic here)

    I only use that term because that’s what I am; it doesn’t matter what position I’m in, I always gravitate to teaching. Possibly because I don’t dismiss people as being dumb. And that’s worked quite well for me, I have to say.

    Stupid is different. Stupid means being aware of the right course of action but doing otherwise and hoping for the best or hoping you don’t get caught.

  6. I tend to agree that it’s pointless thinking people are stupid, I don’t think they are (although there are exceptions), I think people are so self-concerned, so willing to protect what is theirs that they will sacrifice every higher sentiment for their own good.
    It’s the faux libertarianism that is the face of neo-corporatism. People know that privatizing doesn’t mean things end up in private hands, they know it ends up in corporate hands, they just think
    they might benefit, even if everyone else suffers.
    The whole War on Terror is aimed directly at that sentiment, is creates acquiescence, but ultimately it’s a choice, people choose to surrender their better judgement.

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