When Debates Are Only Pretend
Originally published by Washington Times Communities: September 2, 2011
White House spokesman, Jay Carney has assured us that President Obama’s original idea to speak before a joint session of Congress on Wednesday, September 7th, the same night as the Republican debate, was only “coincidental.”
Yes, I’m sure that’s true. Obama probably had no idea whatsoever. After all, he’s only the President of the United States. He can’t be expected to know everything. Oh sure, as President, he is a little more privy to information than the average citizen, and yeah, OK, his advisers and campaign tacticians may possibly have gotten wind of the debate. Then again, maybe it just slipped everyone’s mind.
After all, how important can one debate be anyway?
All we’ll see is a group of people going on television to top their opponents by more effectively ripping into Obama’s failed presidency. Why should Obama’s advisers be losing sleep over this? “Republican debate? Oh is that the same day? Gee, how did we miss it? We only picked Wednesday because this is such a crucial, pivotal, chilling moment in the history of our nation, we figured the American people are desperate to hear from their President. That’s why Obama decided his speech should be delivered promptly upon his return from Martha’s Vineyard.”
Yes, it’s possible the whole thing was an innocent oversight. It’s also possible that Santa uses a sleigh because reindeer foot prints are easier on the North Pole than carbon foot prints.
On the other hand, next week’s event may be evoking misplaced anxiety from Team Obama. For one thing, these “debates’ don’t include any actual debating. They’re nothing more than a series of questions with quick sound bite answers. Focus groups select a victor by naming the best one line zinger, or the person who smiled the most and frowned the least, or (my personal favorite) “the candidate who looked most presidential.”
In a real debate, there’s an opening statement, a closing statement, a series of rebuttals, and a chance for opponents to actually cross-examine each other. But I digress. Any further discussion of real debates would take us far off the subject.
Another reason Obama can sleep well is that Wednesday’s dog and pony show is being sponsored by Politico and NBC News. We can look forward to objective questions such as, “Could you each go around and give your response to the House Republicans jeopardizing our economy by refusing sensible compromise?” Or, “Inasmuch as President Obama got Osama bin Laden, shouldn’t we just skip all foreign policy talk and instead change the law so he can have a third and fourth term?” Or, “OK, we know you guys care more about rich corporations than grandma getting a pace maker, but are any of you planning on learning at least a little compassion?”
As it happens, Obama is now scheduled to speak on Thursday night instead at an early hour so that he will not go up against prime time football. Whew! That was a close one. For a moment, I was afraid people might be not be tuning in.
Meanwhile, pundits will have a difficult time at the end of the week deciding which political show sounded a little less retreaded than the other.
Choice One: Obama’s 90th lecture about our economy with the phrase “bipartisanship” peppered throughout in hopes nobody will notice how he himself is about as bipartisan as Cher sacrificing her solo career to do back up for Sonny.
Choice Two: A group of suckers trying their best not to look like marionettes on strings, hoping against hope that the final loaded question will not be a retweeked Barbara Walters variety: “Mr. Perry, if you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be? And how would drilling for oil effect the life of this tree?”
Such a farce truly would be amusing if not for one small detail: We are headed for what may be the most important election in American history. It would be nice if our media and politicians presumed upon the intelligence of the electorate rather than making us think a trained chimpanzee could do a better job of picking our next president by pulling the first labeled banana out of a barrel.
Also by Bob Siegel:
Bob Siegel is a weekend radio talk show host on KCBQ and columnist. Details of his show can be found at www.bobsiegel.net.
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