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No debate.
September 29, 2004 10:47 AM   Subscribe

No debate. The Commission on Presidential Debates: the "unconscionable fraud" brought to you by Corporate America.
posted by four panels (47 comments total)

 
its a joke. a massive slap in the face of brain dead america. the repugnicans insisted on a plethora of regulations which sterilize the entire process. they can't even respond to one another. they were actually hoping the dems wouldn't agree to debate at all. because you know, a schizophrenic on a gallon of haldol could tear an unscripted bush to shreds in minutes.
posted by quonsar at 11:00 AM on September 29, 2004


quonsar.

Yeah, I'm not sure what the deal is. Kerry could have gone out and said something like "Geroge bush claims he's a fearless leader, yet he's to afraid to take questions from little old me?" Or something. Would have killed bush.

Kerry is such a tool.
posted by delmoi at 11:09 AM on September 29, 2004


I don't mean to sound insulting but, seriously, America itself sounds more and more useless, ridiculous, and absurd every single day.

My homeland is not a pristine haven by any stretch but the daily erosion in your country of the very things you tout as AMERICA seems pretty funny to this outsider.

Whenever I discuss American politics with friends, the conversation alway ends when we throw up our hands and say something like, "When the hell are they gonna revolt and take back their country?" or "Why isn't [insert latest American monkey's name]'s head on a stick?!"

Do you not realize that each passing day that you sit on your ass and take this shit makes it easier for them to pass you this shit while you sit on your ass?
posted by dobbs at 11:14 AM on September 29, 2004


Yeah, I'm not sure what the deal is. Kerry could have gone out and said something like "Geroge bush claims he's a fearless leader, yet he's to afraid to take questions from little old me?" Or something. Would have killed bush.


No it wouldn't have. Bush doesn't need the debates. He is a known quantity. There are still undecided voters out here who haven't seen Kerry speak for more than 15 seconds at a time on the evening news. Kerry can't jeopardize the exposure. He's handcuffed.
posted by jpoulos at 11:36 AM on September 29, 2004


Doesn't seem like a big deal to me. Candidates aren't required to go to the CPD-run debates as a matter of law or anything.

If you want one with more non-major-party candidates, organize with others and put together a proposal. I suspect you'll be unable to get the major party candidates to agree, which is your tough luck as they remain free to appear or not appear at whatever gatherings they choose.

If you want one that's more penetrating, organize with others and propose it.

If you want the major-party candidates to agree to things like that, organize with others to make it clear that you will not vote for candidates who don't do them. If enough people care about it, you'll see a change. Or work within a party to make such things a requirement of the nomination.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:39 AM on September 29, 2004


Presidential Candidates Badnarik and Cobb to debate in Miami
posted by homunculus at 11:39 AM on September 29, 2004


Dobbs, it sucks, and there are lots of us (especially it would seem here on MeFi) that feel the same way you do. The problem is that from what I can tell the Bible Thumping Nascar Zombies outnumber those of us who still have brains (nothing against religion or Nascar, it's just that it's been a while since I've met a rational religious person or Nascar fan).

The progressives I know have all moved to the few remaining sane states, refuse to travel to/live in the red states if at all possible, and at least entertain the idea of moving to Canada or Europe.

When you say "When the hell are they gonna revolt and take back their country?" you need to realize that the they revolted about four years ago, and that this downhill slide has just started...

Progressives are increasingly unwelcome here. Trying to reason with the Bible Thumping Nascar Zombies typically results in a "Fuck off you terrorist pinko fag."

Or maybe that's just the PNW...
posted by togdon at 11:42 AM on September 29, 2004


If you want one with more non-major-party candidates, organize with others and put together a proposal.

Except for the part in the first link that reports the major candidates are barred from debating anywhere else.

Why in the fuck does a presidential debate need sponsors? Build a platform, get the town together and talk, fuckers. What a goddamn joke.
posted by solistrato at 11:42 AM on September 29, 2004


Yeah, I'm not sure what the deal is. Kerry could have gone out and said something like "Geroge bush claims he's a fearless leader, yet he's to afraid to take questions from little old me?" Or something. Would have killed bush

Or it would have played into Republican hands by lowering the expectations for Bush to the point where if he formed a coherent sentence, the pundits would declare him the winner.

I SURE DO LOVE DEMOCRACY
posted by solistrato at 11:43 AM on September 29, 2004


There's a great sketch on SNL from the 96 season (Dana Carvey/Dr. Dre) where Ross Perot debates other third party candidates on "Larry King Live."

All I can remember is that one of the candidates was from the Americans for Female Circumcision Party. Sadly, the transcript is unavailable online.
posted by ColdChef at 11:53 AM on September 29, 2004


Do you not realize that each passing day that you sit on your ass and take this shit makes it easier for them to pass you this shit while you sit on your ass?

Although it's not true that you can boil a frog alive by slowly raising the temperature of the water, it certainly seems to be true that you can boil a society alive. After all, at what point do you declare your willingness to go to jail, or worse, for your country? Would you risk ostracism, financially and socially devastating investigation, or <conspiracy>black helicopter death</conspiracy> just to have a spirited debate between Bush and Kerry? Just so somebody else can protest on the street, instead of in a little, barbed-wire enclosed pen?

That you, personally, can perceive the water heating up gradually does not support burning down your life to tell others about it. All signs point to them not listening, or not caring.

What's a thinking person to do? Fret? Whine? Or insulate as best he can? The alternative is to go elsewhere, but I'm unaware of anywhere that's better, overall, than the U.S.

Sure, we have enormous social, fiscal, moral, and other problems, and we have incompetent, shrill boobs purporting to represent us to the rest of the world, but you'd be foolish to write off any particular American, or America in general, on that basis.

Besides, America is a juggernaut that the world can't afford to let fall.
posted by spacewrench at 11:59 AM on September 29, 2004


Besides, America is a juggernaut that the world can't afford to let fall

Remind me again, at which point in the decline of an empire does complacency occur?
posted by fullerine at 12:18 PM on September 29, 2004


Except for the part in the first link that reports the major candidates are barred from debating anywhere else

That does indeed seem to be a part of the contract with the CPD.

But nowhere are the candidates required to go to the CPD debates. They remain as free as the wind to utterly ignore them, and any requirements they impose, and go to other debates.

So organize with others, propose something better, and get the candidates to agree.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:21 PM on September 29, 2004


The League of Women Voters ran these debates with an iron hand as open, transparent, non-partisan events from 1976 to 1984," Rice says. "The men running the major campaigns ended their control when the League defiantly included John Anderson and Ross Perot, and used tough moderators and formats the parties didn't like. The parties snatched the debates from the League and formed the Commission on Presidential Debates -- the CPD -- in 1986."

Can I get some fact checking up in here, NPR? I mean, come on. Just a simple read through tells me something is amiss. (namely, that Perot ran in 1992 and 1996)
posted by norm at 12:22 PM on September 29, 2004


dobbs: actually, that is pretty insulting. True, but still insulting. the problem with changing things around here is that you'd need nothing short of an armed revolution and, well, that's pretty hard to come up with. Sure I know a few people but not enough.

Anyhow, yeah the country sucks and yeah I'm not proud to live here. I'm leaving here in a couple years for Canada maybe, or Tasmania.
posted by bob sarabia at 12:36 PM on September 29, 2004


I'm unaware of anywhere that's better, overall, than the U.S.

But for how long?
posted by jpoulos at 12:37 PM on September 29, 2004


Kerry did okay in the pre-debate negotiations. He got three debates, instead of the two which Bush wanted.

The view that Kerry would benefit from a more free-for-all debate doesn't seem particularly well based. Kerry debating in the more free-form Democratic primaries wasn't particularly inspiring, and Bush would use a free-for-all format to hit Kerry again and again with some pretty simple and direct attacks, putting Kerry at risk of either blowing his stack (bad soundbite) or falling back on a too-cerebral, too-Senatorial type response.

Kerry should have insisted on including Nader. Bush probably would have agreed in hope that Nader would peel off Kerry votes, but Nader would have spent all his time attacking Bush with arguments Kerry dare not use. Perot did a job against Bush Sr. that way in the 1992 debates.
posted by MattD at 12:41 PM on September 29, 2004


Norm -
Washington Post, Oct. 4, 1988; A15; By Lloyd Grove
Sponsors of 1976, 1980, and 1984 presidential debates, in 1988 the League of Women Voters decided not to sponsor the second presidential debate. The LWV considered itself to be an objective third party in the negotiating of debate formats. According to the article, "the League's board of trustees voted during the weekend to pull out of the Los Angeles debate because the Bush and Dukakis camp refused to renegotiate the terms of their agreement - the result of weeks of arduous talks - with League representatives." The LWV's withdrawal opened the door for the Commission on Presidential Debates, which has sponsored the presidential debates ever since.
Link here
posted by FreezBoy at 12:43 PM on September 29, 2004


I'm unaware of anywhere that's better, overall, than the U.S.

But for how long?

Until about December, when Bush doesn't have to worry about re-election any more and frog marches the country to the extreme right as fast as he can.
posted by Espoo2 at 12:45 PM on September 29, 2004


No, see, you guys don't get the joke yet: AMERICA ISN'T REALLY A DEMOCRACY. More of a corporate plutocracy that uses the democratic rhetoric to keep the proles in line, really... And if you get too uppitty about saying so, we'll keep you from flying and then send you through Room 101 with all the other Goldsteinians...
posted by kaibutsu at 12:57 PM on September 29, 2004


Norm -
Washington Post, Oct. 4, 1988; A15; By Lloyd Grove


That doesn't answer my concern, as the article claims that LWV's inclusion of Perot in debates is a reason why the CPD took over.
posted by norm at 12:58 PM on September 29, 2004


Norm: Based on the above link and on this story from FAIR, Perot was included in the 1992 debate because the two candidates refused to hold any debates without Perot (feeling that Perot would take enough votes away from the other major candidate to make a difference).

However, Perot was excluded from the '96 debates, and the rules were changes in 2000 to further prohibit 3rd party candidates.
posted by neurodoc at 1:04 PM on September 29, 2004


The League of Women Voters ran these debates with an iron hand as open, transparent, non-partisan events from 1976 to 1984," Rice says. "The men running the major campaigns ended their control when the League defiantly included John Anderson and Ross Perot, ...

Boy, do I ever call shenanagins on that!

To refresh the memories of those afflicted with an MTV attention span and penchant for swallowing revisionist history wholesale, I should like to point out that "The League of Blue-Haired Biddies" fought to keep John Anderson OUT of the Carter/Reagan debates. The first time most people in this country ever even heard of Ted Turner was when he took courageous (and clever) stand of electronically INSERTING Anderson back into the debates, by broadcasting the main one on time-delay and cutting away to a podium at Constitution Hall, where Anderson was allowed to give an appropriate response.
posted by RavinDave at 1:11 PM on September 29, 2004


No, see, you guys don't get the joke yet: AMERICA ISN'T REALLY A DEMOCRACY. More of a corporate plutocracy that uses the democratic rhetoric to keep the proles in line, really... And if you get too uppitty about saying so, we'll keep you from flying and then send you through Room 101 with all the other Goldsteinians...

Well, I wouldn't use plutocracy when oligarchy is so much more apt...

Maybe a plutocratic oligarchy?
posted by SweetJesus at 1:13 PM on September 29, 2004


The progressives I know have all moved to the few remaining sane states, refuse to travel to/live in the red states if at all possible,

Then you must not know very many progressives. There's plenty here in the so-called "red states," no matter how much you'd like to characterize every single person who lives in a "red state" as a fundamentalist racist homophobe.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 1:23 PM on September 29, 2004


Bill Moyers had a great segment on this with George Farah. Both candidates agreed to exclude Perot in 1996: Dole thought that Perot would take votes away from him, while Clinton, sitting on a comfortable lead, didn't want any surprises - he wanted a completely unconsequential debate with the smallest possible TV audience.

My favorite debate story is Admiral Stockdale.
posted by PrinceValium at 1:43 PM on September 29, 2004


The alternative is to go elsewhere, but I'm unaware of anywhere that's better, overall, than the U.S.
Besides, America is a juggernaut that the world can't afford to let fall.

i mean no offense, but i have to say these two sentences come across as incredibly arrogant and complacent. it sounds like you're saying, "we got some problems, but we're still a damn sight better than all of the rest of you. fuck all y'all."

this mindset reminds me of one of my big problems with the south: southerners take this stance that no one can criticize the south and that the south is waaaay better than the north. i think the south could be waaaay better than the north, but nothing is ever going to change as long as people take this, "yeah, it's not perfect, but it's still the best attitude."

same with america. america could be #1 in every quality of life category, if we cared and tried. but we don't. we settle. and we let commercials and politicians keep telling us, as we begin our trip on the slide towards decline, "everything's fine. it's all good. you're number one!"

why are we not trying harder?
posted by lord_wolf at 1:44 PM on September 29, 2004


i mean no offense, but i have to say these two sentences come across as incredibly arrogant and complacent.

"I don't mean to offend, but this tastes like vomit!"
"Thank you!"
"No, actually, I did mean to offend a little."
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 1:56 PM on September 29, 2004


why are we not trying harder?

Last time I checked it took a couple million bucks to get elected to anything other than a state congressional position. I certainly don't have that kind of money just sitting around, and any attempts (such as Dean's) to raise that kind of cash via a grassroots campaign will be outdone and outspent by corporate sponsored candidates (if you're putting up that much cash to grease your agenda you're going to be damn sure to succeed).

The people who do have that kind of cash sitting around only want to grow the divide between themselves and anyone not like them. For now they cater to the "fundamentalist racist homophobes" while dicking them over economically to support their true base of corporate sponsors. They need their votes (just letting the corporate campaign sponsors vote would look a little bad), there are more of them, and they're the ones who show up on election day.

It's too bad that we can't just give up the right to vote altogether and hand over our country to the corporate sponsors. It'd cut out the middlemen and get rid of all of this pesky debate nonsense. In the end the elected officials are really only beholden to the people who keep them in place, and that's increasingly not their constituents.
posted by togdon at 2:04 PM on September 29, 2004


More of a corporate plutocracy that uses the democratic rhetoric to keep the proles in line, really...

Ohohoh! Even better -

Kakistocracy
!!
posted by SweetJesus at 2:18 PM on September 29, 2004


Calm down, everyone. The debates won't reveal anything substantial about either candidate, but it's not the End Of Democracy.

And besides, any citizen who WANTS to know where the candidates stand on any given issue -- or wants to review the biography or voting record or such -- can easily do so. There is nothing of value to be learned from the "debates," which are actually merely simultaneous press conferences.
posted by davidmsc at 2:26 PM on September 29, 2004


it sounds like you're saying, "we got some problems, but we're still a damn sight better than all of the rest of you. fuck all y'all."

Actually, I called them "enormous social, fiscal, moral, and other problems," and only intended to point out that if your plan was to run away from the "incompetent, shrill boobs purporting to represent us to the rest of the world," you'd be hard-pressed to find some place that's unqualifiedly better. Certainly, you can find places with less-shrill boobs in power, or with smaller social, fiscal, or moral problems, but I'm not aware of a place that does better than the U.S. on most, or even many, issues.

The problem in this country is that the people and institutions behind those "in power" have allowed (or "directed," if you're of a conspiratorial bent) affairs in such a way that there are thousands and thousands of minor disasters simmering away -- more than enough to occupy every energetic, talented, and conscientious American full-time, forever. Even if you can avert one disaster, social inertia will force you to spend so long at it that a dozen new bungles will appear in the meantime.

You simply can't fix America one problem at a time, without an overriding framework. There are too many problems, and too many hidden and overt connections between them. In addition, there are too many people profiting from the disasters, either directly or indirectly (as the disasters distract attention from whatever else they're up to.)

Personally, I think we're screwed, and in the not-too-distant future, to boot. And, if we're screwed, everybody's screwed, whether we intend it or not. But I don't think it's a matter of "fuck all'a y'all;*" instead, it's "oops, you're fucked too."

* Except, well, from some of the nincompoops in Washington. I can easily see how people would get the impression that America's position vis a vis the rest of the world was what you've described.
posted by spacewrench at 3:03 PM on September 29, 2004


Is it just me or are there lots of Nader talking points bouncing around this thread?
posted by jaronson at 3:55 PM on September 29, 2004


/me despises Nader fwiw.
posted by togdon at 4:30 PM on September 29, 2004


"Memorandum of Understanding"

From Bush's site: Memorandum (7.3MB, higher quality)

From Kerry's site: Memorandum (646KB, lower quality)

The quality of neither is all that great.
posted by bitpart at 4:42 PM on September 29, 2004


well, the bush one uses more resources while providing almost no higher quality, so it's more american than the kerry one.
posted by quonsar at 5:47 PM on September 29, 2004


One good thing: Frank Luntz, MSNBC's (Republican) Pollster, won't be doing any of his live and post-debate focus group bullshit. (a nice victory for owillis and media matters)

Now if only CNN's (Republican) Pollster, Bill Schneider, could be similarly shelved.
posted by amberglow at 5:59 PM on September 29, 2004


The progressives I know have all moved to the few remaining sane states, refuse to travel to/live in the red states if at all possible, and at least entertain the idea of moving to Canada or Europe.

...or Asia.
posted by squirrel at 6:13 PM on September 29, 2004


RavinDave said: To refresh the memories of those afflicted with an MTV attention span and penchant for swallowing revisionist history wholesale, I should like to point out that "The League of Blue-Haired Biddies" fought to keep John Anderson OUT of the Carter/Reagan debates. The first time most people in this country ever even heard of Ted Turner was when he took courageous (and clever) stand of electronically INSERTING Anderson back into the debates, by broadcasting the main one on time-delay and cutting away to a podium at Constitution Hall, where Anderson was allowed to give an appropriate response.

OK, the LWV isn't perfect, but it isn't blue-haired biddies either. [For the record, the local LWV, which included my mother, was tenacious in getting open-housing laws passed here, in what was then a 99.8% white community.] Aaron Barnhart has a better summary; among other things, the presence of Anderson in the first debate led Carter to pull out, putting the LWV on the spot for having a pointless debate or none at all. Additionally, there were threats that if Anderson were included, Lyndon LaRouche would sue to get included as well. For the second debate, Carter invited Reagan and the LWV was left to stick to its principles or include itself; they chose the latter. That point is probably the beginning of the end of any non-partisan control of the process. Eventually the League bowed out when the compromises became too great to retain any integrity at all. They had long since been eclipsed by other organizations in all areas: women's issues, civil rights, and political reform, and today their role in national politics is minimal.

But let it be recorded that Jimmy Carter was the first candidate to boycott a LWV-sponsored debate; and not the first sitting president to realize that incumbency has its advantages, and the debates are one of the few opportunities opponents of the incumbent have to get extended exposure.

Inasmuch as it does have this importance, it's unlikely that the candidates are going to loosen their grip on the process anytime soon, as stage-managed as most campaign events have become, conventions hardly the exception. Demonstrably, the threat of no debate at all is omnipresent, especially for the incumbent or leading candidate, and that would hold true whoever ran them. Given that most of the negotiated terms of the debates were created by the candidates themselves, even the CPD is a shadow of any form of independence, and somewhat fussily refused to physically sign any agreements with the campaigns. The only remaining avenue for principle to rear itself up turns out to be FOX acting as the pool feed, and siding with other news organizations (probably through some kind of self-interest such as simply being included in future pools).

We're a long way from Lincoln-Douglas, my friends.
posted by dhartung at 9:39 PM on September 29, 2004


Bastion of Democracy my ass.

Democracy is easy. People vote for the person/party they want, and based on all those votes, the government is decided.

The fact that the US Popular vote doesn't even decide the head of state is absurd. There was no question in 2000 that Gore won the popular vote, but that wasn't enough. This seems to be because not everyone's vote is equal. In some states, a single person holds potentially more power than someone in another state. That seems fundementally flawed.

The idea of a non-debate doesn't surprise me, there seems to be nothing in the US election process that is allowed to be anything other than exactingly scripted.

This is not a reflection on the American people, but the American form of democracy seems a lot less democratic than many other forms.
posted by sycophant at 3:52 AM on September 30, 2004


Oh, and here is the link I couldn't find a few minutes ago for that last post...

Sorry Florida residents, your vote is only worth 0.79 of a Vote, but excellent news for those of you in Wyoming, your vote is worth 4 times more than your friends from Florida at 3.2 of a vote.

Of course, I don't understand the electoral college voting method as well as many people, but that's how it seems to me, and that seems wrong. Feel free to educate me on the value and sense in using a weighted voting method.
posted by sycophant at 3:56 AM on September 30, 2004


I always find it amusing how whenever someone besides to poke their heads up and trash the US they are just being "progressive" and giving us some of that good ole' foreign wisdom... but if a American dares to claim they still think the US is the place the most want to live they are "arrogant".

Welcome to the new Political Correctness.
posted by soulhuntre at 5:18 AM on September 30, 2004


Welcome to the new Political Correctness.

No, no-one has been accused of being 'arrogant' for proclaiming their desire to live in the US. The attitude which seems arrogant is the one that says the US is the best place in the world, period. Not the place that best suits me, but the best.

I make my observations about the US, but I would never consider that my home country is without fault, or in anyway the objective best.

From a the perspective of those abroad, the US (as a nation, by way of it's foriegn policy, not the American people) seems arrogant. To state, repeatedly, that the reason the US is a terrorist target is that 'they hate our freedom' and to assert a moral authority to instill Americanised democracy in other countries not only reeks of arrogance, but also of closed-mindedness and a lack of respect for- or respect of- the difference and individuality of other societies.

Few things drive this home as clearly as the often quoted statement by the President, "you are either with us or you are against us." While he was referring to his war on terror, the sentiment is very real on almost all levels on US foriegn policy, and increasingly in it's domestic policy.

The USA is far from perfect, the democracy it hopes to export is wrought with many problems, but in something that seems to be always mislabeled as patriotism a large proportion of the population seem very eager to not only ignore critisim, but to attack the source, no matter what the merits or intention of the critisim.

The USA is the world's only remaining super-power and to a lot of people outside it's borders, it is starting to become quite a scary entity.

I believe in people and I believe that they know what's right, but increasingly is seems that many are not listening to their better judgement on many issues, and increasingly their voices aren't being heard, and their power is melting away by the need for national security, stability and strength. From the outside that is a disturbing thing to see.
posted by sycophant at 5:50 AM on September 30, 2004



There's nothing wrong with this country that a 10 MT airburst over the Mall couldn't fix.
posted by alumshubby at 6:36 AM on September 30, 2004


spacewrench, don't know if you're still reading, but thanks for clarifying.

also, what sycophant said...though the username seems to be at odds with the attitude conveyed in the posts. ;-)
posted by lord_wolf at 9:27 AM on September 30, 2004


whenever someone besides to poke their heads up

i wish the guy standing decide me would beside what he's going to do.
posted by quonsar at 9:36 AM on September 30, 2004


lord_wolf: Perhaps you are not the demographic in which I am trying to win favour ;)
posted by sycophant at 5:24 PM on September 30, 2004


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