Yes indeed, it was hard to watch the debate last night. I was right there with everyone else on the sidelines, yelling "get in there and throw a punch", "hit him back", "smash his face". I'm sure that's what Chris Matthews would have said when he was 10 years old. And I don't blame Chris. It's a very human reaction.
But let's go back to that playground for a minute and see what happens next. So the bully takes a punch; does that stop him? No. It just gets uglier; they both look bad and the playground ladies haul them both off to the principal's office.
Does anyone else on the playground understand what they were fighting about any better? Do any of the other kids talk about what started the fight? No.
They just talk about the fight. Who hit harder, Who's nose bled the most.
And who's the winner? Nobody.
The bully's still the bully, the other kid's still just the victim du jour, the rest of the kids still don't know any more about how to defend themselves from the bully than they did before. All they can do is hope that the bully just goes after Big Bird next and doesn't pick on them. But, of course, he will.
This debate was the perfect example of the huge bullying problem we have in this country now. Public discourse has totally deteriorated to a verbal WWF level. It's so pervasive in our lives we almost accept it as normal. The strongest, most ruthless, meanest always wins. This is certainly the way the "right" views everything. I highly recommend cassandracarolina's rec list diary if you haven't read it yet.
Corporate Life In The Rearview Mirror: Mitt, I've Seen Your [Bullying] Type
(Sorry, I haven't figured out how to embed links yet)
Even now, the pundits are counting up the jabs and punches and deciding that the President is the bloodiest, therefore Romney won.
But this is not the kind of society I want to leave to my grandchildren.
And I don't think most of us do. And that's why I want a leader who shows us another way of dealing with bullies, both at home and abroad. I want a leader who models civil discourse, honesty and respect for all.
I think we should consider the possibility that President Obama was deliberately giving Romney all the rope he needed to hang himself. The purpose of the debate (from our point of view) was to educate voters; to put the "real" Mitt on display for the whole country. I think the President accomplished this. It takes a very smart, very cunning, very principled person to stand up and let a bully rant on, knowing that you will be criticized for not punching back, in order to accomplish the mission.
As for the lesson from the barnyard; it's simply the old canard "Don't wrestle with pigs, they enjoy it and you just get dirty".