Saturday, September 27, 2008

Scenes We'd Like to See #3: The Debate That Should Have Been

Why do we always do this? Why does every Democrat take the podium like a dishrag and let himself be wrung out by the Republican – who is invariably a moronic bully with nothing a few catch phrases and a cocky attitude in his favor? Where are our catch-phrases? More to the point, where is our anger, our passion, our simple human energy? Obama, like Kerry and Gore and Dukakis before him, seemed to have been coached by his ‘handlers’ to avoid showing any anger or outrage. He was flat-lining last night. Who are these handlers, anyway? I suspect they all work for Karl Rove. What strategy could have been more catrastrophicly foolish and wrong-headed? How many times does caution have to fail before we learn that it's the most dangerous tactic -- that the measured drone of the policy wonk means death in the polls and doom at the polling place?

You know what Obama should have said as well as I do – you were probably shouting it at the screen, just as I was. By the fifth or sixth time that smug demented geriatric bully repeated his ludicrous sound bite about Obama “not understanding” and “not getting” something, I needed Obama to shout back:

“I don’t understand? I don’t get it? You have been wrong on everything! You were wrong on Iraq. You were wrong on Education and the environment. You were utterly wrong on deregulation. You fought for deregulation during the Keating Five scandal! You were so profoundly involved with the Savings and Loan melt-down, desperately trying to roadblock any regulation or investigation, that your were publicly scolded by your own colleagues. You think Iraq is the main front of the war on terrorism – why? Because George Bush told you so. You think we’re hunting Al Queda there? Al Queda wasn’t even there before we came! Saddam hated bin Laden and the feeling was mutual. You were so eager to prove we were winning the war that you walked through a Baghdad street market – and ripped off a rug salesman – just to prove it. Except you were surrounded by soldiers and guarded from the air by two attack helicopters. That market wasn't safe and you knew it. Your visit was photo op and a lie. Are you going to deny that now, and lie some more? Because America is tired of the lies and mistakes and corruption that you and your party represent.”

Or how about McCain's “The surge is working” line? Obama got trampled there. Why not tell the truth:

"Yes, it’s ‘working’ -- if you call a minor slow-down in the killing and a few more safe neighborhoods in Baghdad a victory. But there’s no democracy in Iraq, no working army, nothing like a self-sustaining government. You’re kidding yourself! No, you’re lying to yourself. But you can’t lie to the American people any more. Not when you're on the stage with me."

Finally, when McCain trotted out the tired old lie about Obama raising taxes on people making $42,000 a year, Obama muttered something about it not being true and just let the crazy old geezer trundle on.

This is what he should have said -- and it didn't have to be ad-libbed. No quick thinking was required. Obama's people knew MCCain was going to pull these tricks. I knew it, and I’m a small-town housepainter. They’re savvy political operatives. They should have been ready with this response:

“Excuse me, Jim. I’m sorry, but I have to stop this right here and respond to the Senator. I have stated here that he is lying about my tax program, but he goes on lying about it as if I said nothing. He doesn’t listen or he doesn’t care. But maybe this will get his attention: I swear in front of every American citizen watching this debate tonight, that if what he says is true, if I really aim to raise taxes on families making under fifty thousand dollars, if he can find anywhere, in any speech or interview, in any statement or private correspondence, on my website, in my advertisements and pamphlets – anywhere – evidence that I actually said that, I will walk away from this campaign and cede the election to the McCain-Palin ticket. But listen to me, now! If he cannot find the evidence for this slanderous and inflammatory accusation, then HE MUST DO THE SAME. He must agree to terminate his campaign – not suspend it in a cheap meaningless theatrical gesture – but end it, if he cannot substantiate his claims about me. He says he’s telling the truth. Will he put his hopes for the Presidency on the line? Will you do that Senator – see, Jim, now we’re talking to each other! – because either you act like a man and do it, right here, right now, or you admit to the American people that you’re a liar.”

And McCain would have folded like a rusty beach chair.
And Obama would have won the election, right there and then.
But he didn’t. And maybe he never will.
And if McCain wins, it will be Obama's fault. Obama and his crack team of advisors. Or maybe they're just on crack. That might explain it.
This election is Obama's to lose, and he’s losing it. He's doing a superb, classically Democratic job of it. Just like Dukakis and Kerry and Gore, Oh my.
It’s Greek tragedy and it's farce, it's the Oresteia meets the Honeymooners. And it’s making me physically ill.

The worst part is, I’m absolutely certain that John McCain’s “Health care plan” won’t help me at all.

1 comment:

Burr Deming said...

It seems to me in restrospect that Obama's performance was calculated. I also think McCain's anger was predictable but spontaneous. It goes beyond the debate or even the campaign.

John McCain suffered unimaginably in service to the rest of us. When his sacrifices are denigrated or ignored by those who never endured such treatment, his anger is understandable. I believe this instance is more revealing than the debate.