Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Thursday, August 01, 2019

The Horserace

I try to discourage off-topic comments. Since people are interested in the Democratic presidential candidates, I'll provide a chance to discuss them here.

I have mixed feelings about the televised debates. They do promote some discussion of policy, which the corporate media would otherwise scrupulously avoid. Unfortunately the short time segments given to each candidate don't allow for any sort of in-depth explanation; the candidates get a chance to say something about the policies they favor but not a real chance to advocate for them or help the public really understand the issues. We're still pretty much limited to sound bites and bumper stickers.

Some of the candidates' presentation values matter for the job of president. Obviously the racist, violent, misogynistic and bullying rhetoric of one politician I can think of appeals to some voters and repels others. Since the president is a role model and a tone setter for public discourse, all of this does matter to the political culture and the future of the nation. So voters should get a chance to size up the candidates as moral voices. Being able to think on one's feet, having an extensive grasp of policy-relevant information, and just seeming like a leader are all relevant to how a candidate is likely to perform in office, but can also be misleading. That some people perceive that Joe Biden is showing his age does matter, but it's hard to be sure if the impression is really valid.

Often, however, the corporate media decides who "won" a debate based on meaningless theater -- a snappy one-liner, body language, energy level. I'm glad Nixon "lost" to Kennedy because of his five o'clock shadow and sweaty upper lip, but Al Gore "losing" to George W. Bush because he looked at his watch did not make me so happy.

Anyway, the debates are necessary and they're going to happen in the general election so we might as well choose someone who can do well. Which brings us to the real issue, which is that what we really care about is November of 2020. I would certainly prefer some of the democratic candidates to others, but I will vote for the Democratic nominee regardless. What matters to most Democratic primary voters is who has the best chance to become president. I think that's largely speculative, however. We don't really know how the electorate is going to respond to a full throated progressive candidate versus a cautious squish, in the context of Vladimir Putin ratfucking and Republican race baiting. People make assertions one way or the other but they don't really have any evidence.

Personally I'm not endorsing anybody right now. I'm waiting till the field shakes out and some of the dust settles. Also, too, there are likely to be some really big shoes dropping in the next few months. We don't know what the political landscape will look like. But I draw your attention to the epidemic of Republican members of Congress retiring. It may be that they know something.

Update: Check out this Ruben Bolling cartoon. It's not about debates specifically but it's relevant.


Don Quixote said...

Thanks for the link to the cartoon and the article about Republican congressional attrition.

I thought Gore actually won the election, but had the presidency ripped from his arms like a baby at the Mexican border by Rehnquist, O'Connor, "Long Dong Silver" Thomas, Scalito, and Kennedy (no relation, as far as I know)--as opposed to losing it because he looked at his timepiece ...

Link to a good article in a recent "Atlantic" Magazine on the roots and nature of anger in America:

Mark P said...

I can't watch the debates because I hate to watch what passes for journalists in the US. They even talk specifically about how important the sound bites are.

Biden is OK, but just OK. I wish he were not running. The last thing we need is another old, white man as president, and I say that as an old, white man. I like Warren more and more. She's smart and seems to have actual plans. I think she could wipe the floor with Trump in a real debate, but, of course, there will be no real debate between Trump and whoever is the Democratic nominee. I would like someone who would call out the creep for stalking around behind him or her, like he did with Clinton.

I also like some of the things Castro has said, but I don't think he's a realistic candidate.

None of them has the charisma of Obama (either one of them) but I can live without charisma. I'm like you -- I will vote for whoever is the Democratic nominee.

Don Quixote said...

It is shocking what passes for "journalists" in the US, and the debates with Clinton were a shocking spectacle--I still have a hard time believing that Shitler was allowed to stalk Clinton on TV and no one on the panel said anything. Incredible. We watched a crime being committed at that moment.

So much for "debates." A sham, a fraud, one more shameful media spectacle, one more thing in the US that is not what it is called and is allowed to stand.

Chucky Peirce said...

Andrew Yang didn't have a chance to say much, but I got the impression that he is able to stand back and take a fresh look at things.

Example: When other candidates were rattling on about retraining people whose jobs disappeared he pointed out that you can't simply retrofit people. I think his comment was:
Human beings aren't widgets.