The Infill Conflict of Interest II
I’m beginning to wonder about the utility of the presidential debates. The first, in modern times, between Kennedy and Nixon, turned out to be a political dirty trick in which someone turned up the heat, making Nixon sweaty and haggard looking. It may have cost Nixon the election. If you think that this is hyperbole, check out the rules of engagement that specifies every tiny detail right down to temperature and lighting candlepower.
Time was that it was considered beneath the dignity of the office of President to be seen in public. The State of the Union was a letter from the President to the two Houses of Congress (Wilson the preachy professor ended that practice). Presidential campaigns were conducted not by the candidates themselves, but by party representatives who actually went out and did the speechifing for the candidates. The whistle-stop campaign was started by Williams Jennings Bryan in the 1896 election. What most people don’t realize about the Gettysburg address was that Lincoln was just the sideshow; a brief five minutes of comments following the main act of a two hour speech. One of the articles of impeachment, against Andrew Johnson, was “public harangues.”
Seriously, what did anyone learn from the first debate between McCain and Obama that we didn’t know already. And, if we sway an election because the man-child looked prettier than McCain I really fear for the future of this Republic. In some respects, the debates serve the Democrats better since they are forever trying to package the same old tax and spend into some slick new package that will somehow be more palatable to the American public than the last package. Carter and Clinton both looked so much better than the old fogey Ford and Bush. What did good looks buy?
Quite bluntly, I really don’t think that our Republic is going to much miss an abolition of the Presidential debates. On the other hand, as reported in Palin Facts, if Sarah Palin in facts tears the still-beating heart from Biden’s chest, I’ll take back this entire post.