Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Artful Dodgers Debate

Some disorganized thoughts on the Republican YouTube debates.

Artful dodgers is the best term. All the definitive statements collected together would span perhaps five to ten minutes, and that's only if you include the blatantly silly and pandering tangential statements. In our country we suffer from severely depressed expectations, to the point where a candidate answering a question is a pleasant surprise. How long should we stay in Iraq? As long as we need to, no more no less! How much power should the VP have? As much as he is given by the President!

The military is unprofessional. That was the implicit answer to the question about gays in the military. The question was well-phrased; to paraphrase "why do you believe that American soldiers are too unprofessional to serve alongside gays in the military without it disrupting operations?" That wording cuts to the heart of the issue: if our military is the best trained and best disciplined military in the world why would a few openly gay men throw it into turmoil? The answer is apparently that our military is composed of rampant homophobes who would drop their guns on the battlefield for some spirited gay-bashing instead.

CNN is trying to drum up some controversy by revealing that the questioner is on a Clinton committee. And? These are YouTube debates, where anyone including a devious Clinton partisan can submit questions which are then selected via some agreed-upon process. There is no conflict of interest here or misrepresentation, the rules do not state that only avid Republicans can offer submissions. The man was not posing as a reporter or faking his military service. His question was deemed valid and worthy enough for inclusion, who he is doesn't change that.

McCain was eloquent on torture. What Romney said was nonsense, his typical strategy of dismissing questions as "hypotheticals" unworthy of answer. He's for waterboarding and it's not torture but he's against stating whether he is for or against waterboarding and whether it's torture - did I get that right?

Nobody knows how to rebuild America's reputation. Did a single candidate answer this question at all? The "best" (read: most amusing) answer was that we help typhoon victims so people in Iraq, which is apparently a frequent sufferer of typhoons, should shut up and be thankful. Every answer was some variation on that: let them eat cake. Everyone loves an arrogant bully.

We would have won Vietnam if not for those rascally kids and their dog. You have to love stock Republican tropes straight out of the rhetorical equivalent of central casting.

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