Tuesday, October 05, 2010

The Day After The Great Debate

Admirers of the Douglas-Lincoln debates may be disappointed when they discover that the Blumenthal-McMahon debates will not determine the election. In fact, the Douglas-Lincoln debates very likely did not of themselves determine the presidential election held two years later in 1860. Then as now, events were in the saddle and rode men. Ours is a time that will be tutored by events we have haughtily ignored.

In Lincoln’s day, public debates reached the people through a highly partisan press, and speeches, as well as debates, were more polished and sonorous. Lincoln stands as a bridge between the tail end of the post Edwardian age and the modern period -- best represented by the bloody casualty figures at Gettysburg and the beginnings of the great fortunes of the rapacious robber barons of The Gilded Age, a heaping up of personal wealth that could not have been accomplished in the absence of a command economy, itself the result of the Civil War.

In Lincoln’s day, the media was little more than a bifurcated party organ; the Republicans had their press, as did the Democrats. The most accurate record of Lincoln’s speeches appeared in the opposition Democratic press, because Democratic media lackeys were not interested in embellishing Lincoln’s public addresses, an office they performed only for Douglas. The opposite is also true: Douglas’ speeches were most accurately represented in the opposition Republican press, coming as they did straight from a stenographic record.

In the post modern age – that would be us – voters in the know have come of age and are fully capable of reading between the lines of Connecticut’s left of center media reports.

Ned Lamont probably was right when he scored the Blumenthal-McMahon “debate” – really an extended press conference – as a draw. Winners in such contests are determined not so much by a studious examination of what is said but rather by expectation gaps.

Going into the debate, the state’s left of center media had Mrs. McMahon put down on their scoring cards as a light weight contender unwise to the ways of duplicitous Washington. Mr. Blumenthal, puffed up by the media over a 20 year period as St. George the dragon killer, at one time was expected to roll over the novice and uncover her, once for all, as a dissolute rich lady unbothered by drug use and necrophilia. In the debate, Mrs. McMahon failed to live down to these low expectations of her. And somewhere on his path to glory, Mr. Blumenthal fell from grace when it was discovered by an out of state newspaper that he lied about his service record, blighting a two decade old self contrived narrative. Those in the media who believe that only cradle-to-grave representation is fit service in the U.S Congress were disappointed.

The expectation going in was that Mr. Blumenthal would recover sufficiently from his lethargy, and he did not disappoint, though much of his presentation was boiler-pate bumper sticker.

Mr. Blumenthal was caught in somewhat of a snare when Mrs. McMahon asked him to describe how wealth – as in Adam Smith’s “The Wealth Of Nations” -- is produced. Answer: Not through attorney general suits.

One of the questioners ought to have asked Mr. Blumenthal how, in a command economy in which the minimum wage is determined outside the market place in the smoke free back rooms of Congress and the White House, he would know when the minimum wage was set too high or too low.

Mrs. McMahon very likely would have been able to answer the question. This was exactly her worry when the minimum wage question came up in an earlier venue. Her answer as to whether she would support a minimum wage got her in Dutch with rhetoricians in Mr. Blumenthal’s smoke free back rooms. An ad was quickly produced proclaiming that Mrs. McMahon wanted to reduce or abolish the minimum wage. One real reporter, Paul Bass of the New Haven Independent, noted the claim was bogus. But nearly everyone else went along with the imposture, happily manureing Mr. Blumenthal’s verdant pastures. Mrs. McMahon has come to expect such partisanship from the state’s status quo media.

In Lincoln’s time a politician forced to suffer the buffetings from a hostile press, were he wealthy enough, might have started his own newspaper. Or he might have bought the services of a rival paper. Or he might have purchased the affections of an editor or two with a polite bribe. In the post modern period, we have ads. In Connecticut, where reporters and editors have stopped digging for the truth about their pet politicians, one must be grateful for small favors.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I am a 49% McMahon supporter as well as 51% nauseated by Blumenthal . . . BUT . . . I can see clearly . . . what is real and what is bluster . . . and it is agreed that the deabate was neither a hit or miss to deciding the election . . . the highlights were the mentioning of the attack adds and letting the candidiated rebut them which was a change-up to stale 'ol debate softball ?'s . . .

If you had to point to one moment that was writable about . . . was that MR AGB did not know the answer to creating jobs. Although that is not shocking to us who follow him & both sides, but the mere facr rhat it is the # 1 topic of every election and on everyones mind in CT & the US "jobs & economy" . . . it should make some heads spin about how far lost out polticians and an AG are . . . . if I was asked a question about a War (I -II - Korea - Vietnam - Iraq) and could not answer a Q? during the "height" of any of them on how it was created . . or on a very lighter liberal note the same Q? on Global Warming during the Height of it . . fully knowing questions were to come

I should rightfully be labeled apolitcal baffoon, no matter what side I was on.

THE DECIDING factor should be and it comes out on friday is the Jobs report and if it is as expected. where BO & AGB are expecting, blustering abour a 20,000+ jobs created . . where as the reality will more likely be a NEGATIVE 38,000 loss of jobs.

How can anyone be that far off. Even if yer name was Clinton-Reagam-Bush-Carter-kennedy you should be voted out

it can also be called 20 years of IN-experience

Richard E. said...

BUT I Attended the NORWALK debate

and it was VERY different then watching on Cable. Linda hands down won the event live and by a landslide! It was not open for debate :) by the attendees who hung around and conversed. . .

On TV it had a different feel, where it appeared Linda won easily or handily, at least to me.

As the Live crowd was different and very into it . . . and had at least a 75% + pro Linda atmosphere . . . boisterous (as far as debates go) on the issues and responses . . . many were clapping cheering to Linda McMahon statements, that was not picked up on camera AT ALL . . . highlighting that at all key points(healthcare taxes jobs) . . . there were also many uttered comments like "no way" "are you kiddin" "come on ?" many grumbled to Mr Blumenthal responses and the major fact that HE voted to raise our taxes 800 million during his previous senate term WITHOUT Defense and the Littany of Lawsuits vs taking care of selective situational pursuits to Mr. Blumenthal, did not go over well for him. . .

While Linda got a standing ovation, stayed on for additional interviews, questions . . . while Mr Blumenthal and his people just stood up and walked out ?

Since this was mainly attended by a diverse membership of local businesses people (dems & repubs) invited through the Norwalk Chamber of Commerce, press, politico's, a HS Political science class of 25-30 as well as a balance of followers from both side.

There could be little interpretaion for a skewing of the people in attendance as pro one way or another, as it sure felt genuine.

"what a lier" was mentioned on more than one occasion, and in a very serious tone. and it got so bad that it ended on a SNL moment where they cut 'ol MR. B for Bluster off and his Mike at the end with everyone getting up and walking out with him pleading for one more minute holding up one 1 finger. PRICELESS. Gotta get tha ton You Tube

it sure seems that the overwhelming # of people there "get it".

Linda McMahon ran a business through thick n thin has a plan for jobs and the economy, while Mr Blumenthals history of and I will say this kindly "embellished reports" w/ spending and taxes, that he wants to extend into the senate is not what this crowd wanted.

DON . . maybe you should add this to every Blumenthal article on real vs. "not so" real

There were NO Boos . . . there were only O-O-O's like OH-No from Mr. Blumenthal supporters after he just got lambasted by Linda McMaohon

and it ended on a SNL moment where they cut 'ol MR. B for Bluster off and his mike at the end after a standing ovation for Linda McMahon with everyone getting up and walking out with him pleading for one more minute holding up one 1 finger to Tom Appleby looking all befuddled. PRICELESS. Gotta get that and see it on You Tube