FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Election 2016: Of Dog Legs and “Debates”

Q: How many legs does a dog have if you call its tail a leg?

A: Four. Calling a tail a leg doesn’t make it a leg.

That riddle, attributed to Abraham Lincoln, comes to mind when I think of the upcoming series of “debates” between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. The two are scheduled to lock horns for the first time on September 26 at Hempstead, New York’s Hofstra University.

The idea of a “debate” presupposes reasoned arguments for and against specific propositions. The Hofstra event and its followups won’t be debates. They’ll be combination beauty contests, “professional wrestling” matches, and campaign commercials.

The only proposition either candidate will support will be “I should be president.”

The closest thing to an argument either one will put forward will be “because I am not the other person on this stage.”

At the end of the evening, the audience will have no more clue what, other than personal style, differentiates one candidate from the other than we did at the beginning — for the perfectly good reason that the answer is pretty much nothing.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

The Commission on Presidential Debates could invite several candidates — perhaps all five who appear on state ballots adding up to more than the 270 electoral votes required to win the election outright (Trump, Clinton, Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson, Green Party nominee Jill Stein, and Constitution Party nominee Darrell Castle).

Instead we’ll only be shown the two establishment-approved candidates. Speaking if which, the Federal Elections Commission really should take notice that due to those exclusionary criteria, the events constitute illegally large (by several orders of magnitude) in-kind campaign contributions to the Clinton and Trump campaigns.

The moderator, NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt, could put the candidates on the spot with detailed policy questions on important issues, testing their knowledge, probing their competence, allowing them to distinguish themselves one from the other.

Instead, if history is any guide, the questions and answers will make the interview round of Mr. Trump’s old stomping ground, the Miss Universe pageant, look like a doctoral thesis defense in nuclear physics. Fortunately this “debate” format skips the swimsuit and evening gown competitions.

This cycle’s presidential “debates” will almost certainly put off enough heat to measurably impact global warming statistics, while shedding little if any light at all on the applicants for the most powerful position in the world.

More articles by:

Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.

January 23, 2019
Charles McKelvey
Popular Democracy in Cuba
Kenn Orphan
The Smile of Class Privilege
Leonard Peltier
The History Behind Nate Phillips’ Song
Kenneth Surin
Stalled Brexit Goings On
Jeff Cohen
The System’s Falling Apart: Were the Dogmatic Marxists Right After All?
Cira Pascual Marquina
Chavez and the Continent of Politics: a Conversation with Chris Gilbert
George Ochenski
Turning Federal Lands Over to the States and Other Rightwing Fantasies
George Wuerthner
Forest Service Ignores Science to Justify Logging
Raouf Halaby
In the Fray: Responses to Covington Catholic High
Kim C. Domenico
No Saviors But Ourselves; No Disobedience Without Deeper Loyalty
Ted Rall
Jury Trial? You Have No Right!
Michael Doliner
The Pros and Cons of Near Term Human Extinction
Lee Ballinger
Musical Unity
Elliot Sperber
The Ark Builders
January 22, 2019
Patrick Cockburn
On the Brink of Brexit: the Only Thing Most People Outside Westminster Know About Brexit is That It’s a Mess
Raouf Halaby
The Little Brett Kavanaughs from Covington Catholic High
Dean Baker
The Trump Tax Cut is Even Worse Than They Say
Stanley L. Cohen
The Brazen Detention of Marzieh Hashemi, America’s Newest Political Prisoner
Karl Grossman
Darth Trump: From Space Force to Star Wars
Glenn Sacks
Teachers Strike Dispatch #8: New Independent Study Confirms LAUSD Has the Money to Meet UTLA’s Demands
Haydar Khan
The Double Bind of Human Senescence
Alvaro Huerta
Mr. President, We Don’t Need Your Stinking Wall
Howard Lisnoff
Another Slugger from Louisville: Muhammad Ali
Nicole Patrice Hill – Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
The Scarlet “I”: Climate Change, “Invasive” Plants and Our Culture of Domination
Jonah Raskin
Disposable Man Gets His Balls Back
Thomas Knapp
Now More Than Ever, It’s Clear the FBI Must Go
January 21, 2019
W. T. Whitney
New US Economic Attack Against Cuba, Long Threatened, May Hit Soon
Jérôme Duval
Macronist Repression Against the People in Yellow Vests
Dean Baker
The Next Recession: What It Could Look Like
Eric Mann
All Hail the Revolutionary King: Martin Luther King and the Black Revolutionary Tradition
Binoy Kampmark
Spy Theories and the White House: Donald Trump as Russian Agent
Edward Curtin
We Need a Martin Luther King Day of Truth
Bill Fried
Jeff Sessions and the Federalists
Ed Corcoran
Central America Needs a Marshall Plan
Colin Todhunter
Complaint Lodged with European Ombudsman: Regulatory Authorities Colluding with Agrochemicals Industry
Manuel E. Yepe
The US War Against the Weak
Weekend Edition
January 18, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Melvin Goodman
Star Wars Revisited: One More Nightmare From Trump
John Davis
“Weather Terrorism:” a National Emergency
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Sometimes an Establishment Hack is Just What You Need
Joshua Frank
Montana Public Schools Block Pro-LGBTQ Websites
Louisa Willcox
Sky Bears, Earth Bears: Finding and Losing True North
Robert Fisk
Bernie Sanders, Israel and the Middle East
Robert Fantina
Pompeo, the U.S. and Iran
David Rosen
The Biden Band-Aid: Will Democrats Contain the Insurgency?
Nick Pemberton
Human Trafficking Should Be Illegal
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail