I was in high school, ever so long ago, when I first saw a formal debate in person. I understand high school debate is becoming popular these days, perhaps because of a Denzel Washington movie, perhaps because of renewed interest in issues. But in my youth, the events were a preserve of awkward nervousness. The first one I saw was divided into two teams.
A young lady completed her presentation and her opponent, a hesitant teenage fellow, took a turn. He stood in front of his audience, examining his feet. Then he looked up and spoke. I remember his words well. "We have heard the other team present their case and their evidence." There was a pause of several seconds, then he cleared his throat and continued. "Now I would like to throw up for you on the floor... uh ... our side."
Tonight's on again, off again national debate is beyond odd before it begins. A strange logic turns the switch on (the negotiations are complete) and off (McCain says no) and on (Obama says go ahead and McCain was only suggesting) and no (McCain really insists and the financial issue is too important) and yes (Congress agrees without either candidate there and the debate can procede) and no (Senator Shelby says wait a darn minute). It's bit like watching a blinking traffic light at night: On and off.
Democrats suggest politics is at the base, but McCain denies it. His reasoning? A debate about the issues must not be held because the issues are too important, too immediate, to discuss at this time. It's the sort of reasoning we are growing accustomed to witnessing in the madcap world of Republican logic. One Democrat describes this latest lurching development as the longest Hail Mary in the history of football ... or Mary.
Barack Obama has been discussing issues most folks associate with the Presidency. War and peace, international negotiation, the economy, the global climate crisis, how to defeat terrorism, the threats to our well being at home and abroad, Presidential temperment, judgement. McCain's side engages in wild talk about lipstick, pigs, viewing Russia from Alaska, scalding anger at the press and Democrats, and accusations ontop of accusations that all fall apart when examined.
I know I am a partisan Democrat and an unrepentent liberal. But this strange campaign brings back that experience years ago, watching another awkward teenager in an unfamiliar debate forum.
Each day, Obama presents his case.
And each day, McCain throws up for us on the floor ... his side.
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Good stuff bro.
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