Dogs & Cats Squabbling in the Alley

Warning: This post contains profanity.

Why profanity, you may ask? Because I am so damned angry, I can hardly speak. I watched a small portion of the second half of the second round of the Democratic candidates’ “debate” the other night. Have these people learned nothing? Some of them have been “successful” politicians for years. What makes them think that when asked for their views of a competitor’s “health plan,” on national television, the best response is to attack the other person’s competency at health mathematics, ignorance of health policy and general untrustworthiness? The first rule of media training is not to answer the bad question, but instead answer the question whose answer you want to deliver. When and if the questioner accuses you of not answering because you didn’t say what was wrong with Candidate A’s position, you answer with a second version of the original answer until they give up. The questioner may be unhappy but the audience will have heard your real message – twice or more!

Instead, given the chance to fight with each other or speak about principles to the voting public, the candidates chose to attack each other. Seriously? This is the best you can do? You let the moderators drive you like a herd of sheep into fighting and snarling at each other, hoping the media will give you a good “score” the next day. Look at the results. It didn’t work and it likely never will.

If you want the nomination and the presidency, you must be the master of your own fate. You don’t let yourself be driven into a beat-down over arcane details, cost estimates, on and on, when your real message is (1) what needs to be fixed, (2) the principled approach you will take to fixing it, and (3) why you’re the best person to fix it.

I’m not making this up. Joe Biden comes onto the stage, crowded with people who have less-than-zero chance of being the nominee, and the front-runners all decide, “we better bring Joe down a peg or two, so let’s all attack Joe.” That way, the reasoning must go, if he does down, we must go up. WTF people! You had this extraordinary opportunity to speak directly to the Democratic primary voting population, among others including likely swingable voters not dedicated to vote Democratic but willing to do so in the right circumstance. And you fought like drunks over the last stale bottle of beer. Your anxiety levels were so high that many key points were flubbed and what should have been easy statements of where you stand and “who you are” sounded more like Donald Trump trying to pronounce any word of more than two syllables

Why the hell do you let the media people force you into attacking each other rather than addressing yourselves clearly and coherently to the voters who are watching? If you are a serious contender for the nomination, you should, by now, have thought through the messaging that you want to present to the voters about what you stand for. Do you really think you are communicating effectively by swatting at each other over the obscure details of his/her health plan versus your health plan? If you plan to support “Medicare For All,” you should by now have a maximum 2-minute cold-hard, easy-as-saying-your-name explanation in plain English as to why that is the best approach going forward and one for which you would fight as president. The real audience is in front of you and out beyond the cameras, not on the stage with you.

The media people, many of whom played a prominent, if indirect, role in getting Trump elected president, must be laughing themselves silly. It was so easy to disrupt the flow of ideas and provoke attacks that they didn’t have to make much effort. And because the candidates took the bait, much of what they should have said was cut off by the moderators as the candidates struggled to get back on message. Trump must have loved watching it.

The fate of our democratic form of government is on the line here. If the people on the stage polling negligible levels of support and with marginal funding really care about this country, they would remove themselves from the race right now. If they think a “Trump-like miracle” is going to come out of the sky and make them the nominee, they are seriously deluded. They are being played by the media and are apparently all too happy to be pawns for whatever reasons, I don’t know. The stakes are too high for this self-aggrandizing activity. It’s time to clear a path for the main horses in the race to have room to run, and, as I have tried to argue, the coherence to learn how to speak to the voters directly, clearly and in terms they can understand and about concerns that really matter to them. WAKE UP BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE!!

Footnote: This post is not intended to endorse any candidate. I am not there yet. I only know that Donald Trump, the dangerous fool and traitor who now sits in the White House, must not be re-elected.

7 thoughts on “Dogs & Cats Squabbling in the Alley

  1. Julian Baum

    Virtually always, “the pure and simple truth is rarely pure and never simple.” (Wilde.)
    It seems to me, however, that the truth here is indeed pure, plain and simple.
    They’re not asleep; there’s no waking them up. It’s deliberate and cynical.

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    1. shiningseausa Post author

      You may well be right in many of the cases. From somewhat close observation over many years I have concluded that the ‘politician’ class, if that’s a reasonable characterization, is as cold-blooded as any group of humans on earth, but we are genuinely in a fight for the survival of the world’s leading example of democratic government, albeit severely flawed. If the American version of democracy is to survive, those who aspire to lead must do better than being led by the nose by a bunch of self-interested media talking heads. I still have hope but it is under challenge.

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      1. shiningseausa Post author

        One more thing I meant to say. The truths that need to be spoken are often about complex subjects. The key is to be able to articulate leadership principles in those things in a way that the “average” person can understand and be motivated. Engaging in “debate” focused on “I’m smarter than the rest of you” isn’t going to defeat Trump who just tells his supporters what they want to hear.

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  2. Kelly LaMarco

    I agree with you, Paul. The second debate was a pathetic display. The “serious” candidates made Marianne Williamson look, well, not ridiculous. They should know how to handle the media. They each gave the impression that “If I can’t be the winner, then I don’t care who it (including Trump!). Disheartening.

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    1. shiningseausa Post author

      Time is precious here. Some few of them must learn to talk like leaders with big ideas that can be explained so that most “normal’ people can understand and be moved.

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  3. BP

    None of these candidates has the candor to say “If I’m elected, I would prefer to push for Option A, but the outcome will depend in part on the composition of the House and Senate. If the best improvement to the status quo that we can get is Option B or C, I’ll take it. I can’t promise you the outcome–nobody on this stage can do that–but I can promise I’ll fight tooth and nail to improve our insurance and health care system.” [Realistically, a souped-up Obamacare coupled with expanded access to Medicare is probably the best we can hope for anyway.]

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    1. shiningseausa Post author

      If Democrats get control of House, Senate & White House, much good can happen. If not, Repubs will obstruct again as in Obama administration. To repeat myself, I don’t think the voting masses are fixed on Option This or Option That. They can understand broad principles & they know they are being screwed over now, so Dem candidates need to speak to them in language they can relate to. It’s fun, perhaps, to be the wonkiest of the wonks, but it won’t win an election against people who think their candidate was sent by God.

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