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about these "debates" 
1st-Oct-2004 01:42 pm
To be sure, I don't want to be arguing that we'd have been better off if Nixon had been elected in 1960 rather than 1968. Suffice it to say, lots of things would have been Different, whether we want to talk about the Cuba War, how the various civil rights acts would have fared, what the modern conservative movement might have been like without the Goldwater disaster or the Great Society excesses to push them over the edge, etc.

But I've always had this silly idea that elections should be decided on issues and I figure Kennedy's harping on the "missile gap" should be prominent on the All-Time List of Bogus Campaign Issues. In the end, radio listeners, who thought Kennedy and Nixon both did about equally well, were outnumbered by the millions of TV viewers who knew immediately that there was no way they could ever vote for a guy who could sweat directly from his forehead down across his entire face, who could sweat from places you would never imagine had sweat glands, who could... well, you get the idea. The 1960 election, in effect, was decided by rivers of sweat. Nixon quite sensibly vowed 'never again,' and thus the country was spared this useless spectacle for another 16 years.

Since 1976, we've been treated to
  • Gerald Ford's supposed "gaffe" about Poland --- taken in context, it was actually a fairly sensible statement about how the Polish people would never accept Soviet domination --- but of course the media had so much more fun taking it out of context, they would never cut him a break after that.
  • The stomping out of John Anderson's candidacy in 1980. He was surging 10-15% in the polls when the League of Women Voters decided to cave in to Carter's demand that he not be invited to the second debate --ultimately an incredibly self-defeating move, given how Anderson was drawing huge amounts of support from Republican moderates who had trouble with Reagan's (what was then considered) hard-line conservatism -- after which Anderson dropped back into single digits because nobody could take him seriously anymore.
  • That all-important second debate where Reagan got to unleash his patented "there you go again" line and his cavalcade of stupid anecdotes. And, of course, once the press latched onto the Amy-Carter-as-nuclear-weapons-advisor meme, Carter was toast.
  • That utterly insane first question posed to Michael Dukakis in 1988. And of course because he was polite and didn't immediately lay into the reporter ("Yeah, let's just start the evening off on a positive note, why don't we? Hello? What the fuck kind of stupid question is that? Yeah, I think I just might be a little upset if my wife were raped and murdered. Like this has anything to do with my not wanting to see the wrong guy get executed for it, so that at the end of the day we have two innocent people dead"), this was taken as a sign of "weakness" and the media had a field day.
culminating, of course, in
  • That first 2000 debate, where, by any reasonable debating standard, Gore completely wiped the floor with Bush, quoting numbers from Bush's own website back at him to point out just how full of shit he was. And so of course the media is all about how Bush was all natural&folksyTM and didn't completely fall on his face, while Gore was an asshole because he was sighing at Bush's purposeful obtuseness.
Really, they're not debates; they're just extended co-campaign speeches/photo-ops, paid for by you and me. And the media just spins them however the hell they want, usually to prop up whoever is behind so that they can play the horse race for all it's worth (though I think in 2000 they just hated Gore and that was that...)

So I don't know how I'm going to feel if the 2004 debates actually end up being judged as debates (for once) and end up putting Kerry over the top.

We'll see.
1st-Oct-2004 02:52 pm (UTC)
Better analysis than I could write, but still discouraging. I went into a rage last night listening to people say Bush had won that debate. It does feel like 2000 all over again.
1st-Oct-2004 06:23 pm (UTC)
See this is why I love election years. Not only does my personal magnetism skyrocket (well, it did when I wasn't married), but those with IQs over 130 armed with some critical thinking skills feel as powerless, cynical, and doomed as I do. I get to be in the company of greatness!
1st-Oct-2004 02:54 pm (UTC) - Also, Mondale in 1984
On the issues, I thought he wiped Reagan off the map. But Reagan had charisma and a clever response about how he wouldn't hold Mondale's "youth and inexperience" against him, in response to a question about the age of the candidates.

Did Goldwater and LBJ ever debate?
1st-Oct-2004 03:10 pm (UTC) - Re: Also, Mondale in 1984
yeah, there was some atrocity in 1984, but I'm blanking on what it was...
Did Goldwater and LBJ ever debate?
nope. My guess that LBJ was so far ahead (Goldwater being so far off the map) that he had nothing to gain and everything to lose given how he had none of JFK's photogenic attributes. Goldwater, in turn, was probably worried about getting trashed the way Nixon was.
1st-Oct-2004 08:20 pm (UTC)
Of course they are dog and pony shows.
See this Seattle Times article.
I got to listen on the radio so I missed out on the shrubs smirking, but he sure came across as an annoying whiny school boy who could only keep repeating the same thing over and over to me.
1st-Oct-2004 08:47 pm (UTC) - All I have to say about the debate, via image leeching
2nd-Oct-2004 02:22 am (UTC) - Re: All I have to say about the debate, via image leeching
this is not actually very good wank material; just in case you were wondering.
2nd-Oct-2004 10:31 am (UTC) - Re: All I have to say about the debate, via image leeching
I dunno, looks to me like it might turn into a cat fight. That sounds fappable, but what do *I* know?
2nd-Oct-2004 08:20 am (UTC) - Re: All I have to say about the debate, via image leeching
I can't believe they both showed up in the same blush pink suit. What the? Both these women desperately need a stylist.
2nd-Oct-2004 08:19 am (UTC)
An anthropologist will tell you that a very large majority (75 - 80%? maybe?) of our communication is nonverbal. So that means WHAT a person is saying, quite literally, is not as important as HOW he says it.
2nd-Oct-2004 10:32 am (UTC)
The prof said that in social psychology too, but I didn't listen because I was too busy scowling at the football players sitting behind me who thought they were getting an easy grade, found out differently, and then spent the entire quarter whining.
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