Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Dignity in Politics

I was amazed at the number of my friends who did not watch the Presidential debate #2.  In fact, I did not watch it live since I was playing duplicate bridge that evening.  But I did tune into (and toggle between) Fox News and MSNBC and their spin doctors. 

I have become increasingly troubled with the tone and reporting on both of these channels.  E.W. put it the best - "We've lost our dignity in politics".  Seems to me, political debates have become another "reality TV" or another football rivalry but without referees.

Both networks and their reporters have no problem calling the opponent a "Liar".  Even writing this now reminds me of children whining "Liar, Liar, pants on fire".  I think calling someone a Liar is disrespectful and has no place in the analysis of a debate.  It is time to change the format of debates.  Newt Gingrich probably had it correct when he suggested that debates should be in a Lincoln/Douglas format (although in researching this there was some partisan editing done after the fact in the news print). 

Elections have always had a component of a popularity contest - looks, charisma, eloquence, humor, and style (and even more so in our media intensive age).  The best way to "dethrone" the most popular kid, is to discredit, disrespect, and demean their dignity.  Consequently negative advertising, cutting humor, and belittling quips work.  So our political stewards become polluted by the advisers who become their "hence men".  They (and I mean both parties) use the partisan networks to mouth their most demeaning remarks. They hide behind the PAC's and Super PAC's trash while innocently remarking that they had nothing to do with those advertisements.

And the dignity decline spirals down with increasing momentum to the November day of reckoning.  When both parties can rise up and declare the process was necessary to "get elected". After spending months in the mud, we should all wipe our faces clean and "kiss to make up" for a brief intermission until we can start the process again.

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