Bush Evades Prime-Time Debates.
August 29, 2000 1:52 PM   Subscribe

Bush Evades Prime-Time Debates. "Gore spokesman Chris Lehane said Bush's 'idea of the perfect debate is on Austin cable access during the Olympic finals women's gymnastics.'"
posted by lbergstr (21 comments total)
i'm not sure i care how many or when - as long as they get some third party candidates in there

by the by : anybody else think of Carville when they see Lehane talk? probably just me
posted by alethe at 3:34 PM on August 29, 2000

Um... Did you actually read the article? Bush says "I welcome prime time debates." Doesn't sound like he's evading it at all.
posted by gyc at 5:45 PM on August 29, 2000

actions speak louder than words.
posted by muta at 5:52 PM on August 29, 2000

Yeah, but he's refused to actually commit to any. The Commission on Presidential Debates, an independent, bipartisan group that has been the prime sponsor of general election presidential debates in the last three elections"(Times article) has proposed three debates, which Bush hasn't agreed to yet.There are, of course, a lot of reasons he might not like their proposal."During his in-flight news conference, Mr. Bush said he might have problems with certain debate formats. 'Sometimes the formats lend themselves to who best can walk around the stage, act dramatically,' he said. "I'd rather have a good discussion.'" (ibid)Obviously, the Bush camp is trying to get a debate format that makes their candidate look good. That's normal. But if, like me, you don't think Bush is especially articulate or that he hasn't demonstrated much of an ability to think on his feet...you'd probably laugh at this article the same way I did, and wish Bush's team good luck.

posted by lbergstr at 5:59 PM on August 29, 2000

"'Sometimes the formats lend themselves to who best can walk around the stage, act dramatically"

Bush is talking about Gore here, does that strike anyone else as completely ridiculous? Hello!?! Gore? Dramatic?

Sorry shrub, but that's a lame excuse when you have to debate a guy with the dramatic prowess of an ironing board.
posted by mathowie at 7:00 PM on August 29, 2000

Debate Comparisons:

Physical Attributes:
Bush: Tall, smily face, full head of hair with traces of male pattern baldness.
Gore: Tall, smily face, bird's nest (occepetal) baldness.

Alpha Male:
Bush: Beta +
Gore: Aplha -

Grasp of Issues:
Bush: Clueless parrot.
Gore: Parrot with a clue.

Bush: Can't string together 4 words in a row if he is left alone to fend for himself. Parrots well when coached and presented with a written script and teleprompter.
Gore: Boring monotonous style of delivery, but can fend for himself. Can tune out audience if left too long to speak.

personal note: I do not think Bush himself is scared to debate. He took on McCain and won. He looked rather presidential during the Republican primary debates. It is his handlers who are scared. They have seen Gore take on Bradley and fry him like a tuna. Gore also made Ross Perot look like a circus freak show (which he really is) during their NAFTA debate on Larry King Live. Gore just has a greater command of "slow paced argumentative talks." Right about now Bush looks like a village idiot or a rodeo / farm hand who has no idea what he is talking about. If Bush was comfortably ahead in the polls and the press not making an issue of his similarities to Dan Quyale, he might have taken Gore head on. Right now he needs some viagra (and better poll numbers) to make him self confident again.

All the Gore voters who are thinking any debate with Bush will be a walk in the park for Gore, I suggest you dig up your video tapes for the Republican Primary debates. (Please dont tell me you didnt tape the debates!) Bush is not as idiotic as he has been looking lately.
posted by tamim at 7:12 PM on August 29, 2000

One thing to remember is that Bush's first exposure (personally, that is, obviously being the son of the president means he knows what's up in general. Or maybe he didn't notice, who knows, anyway) to National politics has been in the past 8 months or so. Gore, by contrast has had 8 years. From what I've read and seen, Gore may be the more intelligent of the two men, but not by much. If Bush can get to the top of his game in a debate that slightly favors his style (rehearsed), the debate shouldn't change too many minds, unless of course of a couple of 3rd pary warriors show up...
posted by chaz at 7:32 PM on August 29, 2000

Being a Senator is national politics as well. So Gore has a lot more than 8 years experience.

And the one thing about that kind of experience is that no matter how nice, how smart (or dumb) and reasonable, or how geekish you might be, you're also a pit bull. Can't survive without it.

I'm not a huge Gore fan, but with experience like he's had, he'll be able to fry just about anyone - and look friendly doing it. Bush, though he might be a decent candidate (looks right, hires the right people, reads a teleprompter well, decent provenance, etc.) just doesn't have that kind of hard core experience.
posted by mikel at 8:40 PM on August 29, 2000

Matt, although Gore might be considered an 'ironing board', that isn't neccessarily a bad thing in a debate. Gore even admitted in his DNC acceptance speach that he (paraphrase)'wasn't the most exciting canidate', but he would get the job done. If an ironing board knows who the leaders of other major countries are, I'll go with that board any day. If an ironing board(sorry, nice phrase :) is a better canidate than some kid like bush who's betting on the High School popularity contest to get him to office, has an opinion of *his own* and not that of what his x^2 advisors are telling him to say like a fucking talking monkey *this week*, and that can actually have an opinion about things that aren't leading the gallup interest polls, I'll vote for that guy.Personally, and I think others can relate, I absolutly hated the whole populartity thing for elections etc.. in college/high school/work. Like it or not, Bush is an extension of that 'popularity' mentality.His advisors know that he's a great guy when he's shaking hands, reading a teleprompter, and speaking to the demographic of the moment. Thats why they're totally mortified of an unscripted, unedited, and unrehearsed national TV appearance. As someone else said, Bush will get grilled/fried/broiled/charred. His advisors know it. He knows it. Gore and his people know it too. Hopefully everyone can see exactly why Bush is trying to bail on this. He's hoping to turn the election into a populartiy contest, not a presidential election where there's more to how you smile, frolic, shake hands, and are an all around nice guy..Lotta rant there, its been a long time for me without a big ass rant on evolt ;)
posted by djc at 9:50 PM on August 29, 2000

This is something that it took me a long time to really realise, but politicians do need the mental agility to be able to think on their feet, and to effectively do that they need a breadth of knowledge and experience that I believe Dubya just does not have. Cue cards, speechwriters, and teleprompters will only get you so far. For example, how well would George W. Bush fare mediating Arab-Israeli peace talks, alone with the likes of Yasar Arafat for hours at a time? This is what I am worried about.
posted by donkeymon at 9:52 PM on August 29, 2000

I give far more credit to someone who recognises their own weaknesses and surrounds themselves with savvy people than someone who condescends to everyone they talk to.

Listen to Bush when he talks and he comes off as a regular guy, not necessarily too smart (though he's got an Ivy League education) and definitely not too big for his britches. He's got some ideas and he'd like to discuss them. He presents things in a straightforward and simple manner, but simple because they don't need to be complex, not simple because he doesn't think his audience can handle anything more. Bush gives real life examples and analogies, and calls on people who are actually better versed than he is to speak from their knowledge on issues of importance.

Gore, on the other hand, has visions, plans, scenarios, concepts and things he wants to talk to us about, which means kick back, you've been brought to the principal's office for a little schooling, children. He oversimplifies in an arrogant way, explaining everything as though his audience was made up of seven year olds.
And then there's the pie charts and graphs and flow charts. . . dear lord, please, no more pie charts!

I'm not talking about the televised "big speeches" mind you, I'm talking about the local campaign stops, the "out among the people" speeches and presentations. The things that aren't as choreographed and rehearsed. The things that give a man the chance to shine or stink.

In a debate, if it is structured and polished, it's a toss up. If it's a free-style "town hall" type of thing, it would be Bush's game so long as Gore was given enough time to tie his own noose of "Listen my children" and hang himself with it. I'm in favour of the second, I'd love for the world to get multiple chances to see Daddy Gore spin out his yarns about how his version of Daddy Gubmint can make your life better. (insert copious eye-rolling type faces here.)
posted by Dreama at 10:59 PM on August 29, 2000

If you ask me, they're both idiots.

Why can't you Americans just get rid of your stupid little "can only be President for 2 terms" rule and just bring Clinton back? He's got more charm, character and wits in his pinky than both Dubya and Gore combined.

Anyways, just the views of an ordinary Canadian guy. Frankly, I can't believe either one of those dolts leading the "greatest country in the world" yet that seems to be what's going to happen (short of a freak accident that kills both Bush and Gore and leaves us with that Nader guy).
posted by PWA_BadBoy at 11:25 PM on August 29, 2000

Dreama: I love how you consider intelligence and knowledge a weakness. Bush is a complete lightweight who appears to have lived most of his life without entertaining a political thought, and Gore is a policy wonk who has been involved in issues for 25 years. So we talk about how Bush is a "regular guy" as if that's a positive attribute in a president, and degrade Gore's ability to speak about current issues without outside helpers. Since when is the ability to fit well in your britches a qualification for the highest office in the country?

Someone else called the Commission on Presidential Debates "an independent, bipartisan group". The group is led by two people -- the former head of the Republican national committee and the former head of the Democratic national committee. It's not independent at all, which is why the debate participation rules were framed to keep everyone but Democrats and Republicans out.
posted by rcade at 8:28 AM on August 30, 2000

Does all this talk about a "regular guy" as president remind anyone else of Vonnegut's "Harrison Bergeron"?
posted by harmful at 8:34 AM on August 30, 2000

I think that if you were to divide the past two centuries' Presidents into "regular guys" and "statesmen", it'd be better to be placed in the company of the sqeaky-voiced Lincoln, the domestically-ineffectual Wilson and the privileged cripple FDR than "regular guys" like Warren G. Harding and Chester A. Arthur After all, you wouldn't want a "regular guy" (read: GWB) as Chief Justice, or head of the Chiefs of Staff, would you?

(And it's bizarre how the current campaign is making people nostalgic for Clinton, isn't it?)

That said, the debate format is hardly an accurate test of greatness. How about if Clinton lets Gore, then Bush, shadow him for a week, in the manner of new recruits taking over management positions? "Right, Governor Bush, you take over the summit meeting while I go get pizza."
posted by holgate at 9:30 AM on August 30, 2000

Listen to Bush when he talks and he comes off as a regular guy, not necessarily too smart (though he's got an Ivy League education) and definitely not too big for his britches.

The idea that someone could be "too smart" for the job of the President of the United States (and thus we should choose "not too smart" Shrub instead) is too much. Is that the best you can come up with? G.W. is reg'lar folks who don't talk down to us (like that scary intimidating Gore with his pie charts and his actual knowledge) so we should vote for Shrub? Dreama, you really stuck your dainty conservative foot into it with that one. With supporters like that, Shrub hardly needs enemies.
posted by wiremommy at 9:32 AM on August 30, 2000

Go Nadar.
posted by Jeremy at 10:00 AM on August 30, 2000

I saw Nader speak on television last night, and I was greatly impressed. All of you ex-liberal Gore supporters should listen to one speech by the man-- listen closely when he answeres on why a vote for Nader is not a vote for Bush.
posted by chaz at 12:03 PM on August 30, 2000

I've gotten here pretty late - perhaps a few people will read this though:

A vote for Nader most certainly isn't a vote for Bush.

However, if Nader is able to mount a serious campaign, it would ultimately cost Gore far more votes than it would GW.

Have we forgotton 1992? Were it not for a certain Ross Perot, Clinton may well have lost the election. Moderate conservatives left the GOP, and voted Reform.

Today, left leaning liberals like myself are leaning toward Nader. This could spell disaster for Gore, and by extension, for the country as a whole (provided you're anti Shrub, as any sane person should be).

That said, it's important to remember that Nader isn't looking for the win. He just wants 5% of the popular vote. Accomplishing this would catapult the Green party into true political viability.

And that may well be worth a few years of GWB . . .
posted by aladfar at 2:23 PM on August 30, 2000 [1 favorite]

If Gore were ANY kind of alternative to Bush, I'd vote for him. But listen to the rhetoric coming from Gore's camp, particularly this recent "our founding fathers believed that only a religious person could be a moral person" manure, and you'd think it was the GOP. Gore wrote a book about the environment, sure-- but his family owns a sizable chunk of oil company stock. Add this crap to Tipper's '80s crusade to censor music (which Gore said then and now that he supported), and the Clinton legacy of "neo-liberal" corporate whoredom... Gore looks pretty bad from a progressive POV.

Yes, yes, it's deplorable that G.W. Bush is even a candidate for the highest office in the country, let alone the ridiculous possibility that he might actually win.

On the other hand, he's likely to be too scattershot and ineffectual to do any real harm, and if perchance he does win, we can get rid of him in one term just like we did his Daddy. When the "choice" is between a fratboy cokehead like Shrub and a charmless hypocrite like Gore, it'd be crazy NOT to vote for Nader.
posted by wiremommy at 4:55 PM on August 30, 2000

Nader's support dropped significantly after Gore's acceptance speech at the convention. It's around 1 to 2 percent in the polls I have read about. I think the only thing that would cause Nader to make a dent in Gore at this point is if he were included in the debates (which he ought to be).
posted by rcade at 6:22 PM on August 30, 2000

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