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Don't let the gallop begin.

This isn't Glenn Beck v Eliot Spitzer.  These are debates concerning who is going to run the most powerful economic and military nation on the planet.


Thanks to Candy for agreeing to moderate.  Thanks to Hofstra for the forum.  

Debates are a time honored tradition in presidential campaigns.  The reason they are so important is that it gives the American people a chance to choose between different ideologies and different candidates and hopefully allows the voter to make an informed decision when they step into the voting booth.

Now, debates only serve a purpose if they are honest debates.  If they devolve into rhetorical whirlwinds of innuendo and distortion then they serve no purpose and I simply won't be a party to such a perversion of such a hallowed forum.

In the last debate my opponent made, according to independent factcheckers, at least 27 departures from his previous positions on a variety of subjects.  There is no way a two minute rebuttal grants the necessary time to point out each misrepresentation, explain why the statement is a misrepresentation, and cite examples of my opponents ever fluctuating positions.

I welcome honest debate whereby disparate opinions are offered and supported with facts and eloquence by two people who simply have a difference of opinion on a great many subjects.  However, if we cannot hold an intelligent, reality based debate; if we can't engage in civil disagreement where both sides support their positions with facts and specifics...then debates no longer have merit in a political campaign.  If scoring temporary political points is the order of the day...well, we do that on the campaign trail day after day.  In my opinion the rhetoric should stop at the debate dais and candidates should attempt to answer the questions given us with utmost accuracy and honesty.  The American people deserve to see a certain decorum observed by those who wish to hold the highest offices in the land.  They do not deserve to be misled or drowned in a tsunami of declarations that are proved to be false in tomorrow's news cycle.  

Now, if we can agree that we will answer all questions truthfully, I am ready to proceed.  If not then debates lose their significance and serve only to waste the candidates time and the American public's time.  


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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (24+ / 0-)

    But I, being poor, have only my dreams; I have laid my dreams under your feet; tread softly, because you tread on my dreams. – Yeats

    by Bill O Rights on Sat Oct 06, 2012 at 12:09:03 AM PDT

  •  Agreed: grab the bull(sh*t) by the horns. nt (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blueoasis, NotGeorgeWill
    •  "If telling the truth means losing a debate, ..." (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      zesty grapher, terabytes

      One more suggestion for the BHO team:

      "According to the mainstream media, I 'lost' the last debate. If telling the truth means losing a debate, I'm gonna keep doing it. If they think lying is a winning strategy, they can keep at it. My fellow American citizens, when you vote in this election, you decide who you'd rather have in the White House: someone who tells you the truth, or someone who will say anything to get elected. I'm going to tell you the truth."
      The silver-lining of the pundits' reaction is that it makes Obama the underdog, being ganged up on by the media. (Where is that 'liberal media' that right-wing nut-cases cry about? Pretty much every pundit weighed in against Obama.) He may as well take advantage of this.
  •  Textbook! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NotGeorgeWill, Sharon Wraight

    That's exactly how combat b.s spewing. Call it out and hit back when necessary.

  •  Very good introduction . . . (9+ / 0-)

    Eloquent, well-framed argument.  Hopefully the campaign sees this and tests a version of this argument.

    I particularly like the "time honored tradition" frame.

    As a matter of personal preference though, I would probably edit out the end of the statement beginning:

    However, if we cannot hold an intelligent, reality based debate . . . [to end]
    I've thought about the walk-out option, but I can't see a way to do this without it playing badly.  

    Instead, I would finish on a note along the lines of:

    "However, it is my hope that we can engage in a substantive, and honest debate of the issues confronting our nation tonight.  The American people deserve no less [perhaps the more direct "You deserve no less"]."

    I would then find a way to work the word "honest" and "honesty" into the debate answers as many times as possible without getting too heavy-handed.  The idea is to make character and honesty question part of the debate.

    Obama also needs to develop a narrative.  

    e.g. a selection not just between two candidates, but between two political parties with very different visions about which direction the country will head over the next four years.  Re-iterate that times have been hard, but that we are on the path to recovery and with the opportunity to govern for another four years, we will have the chance to build on the foundation that we have painstakingly and with great difficulty built over the past four years.

  •  We live a country where people are praised for (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    declaring themselves the specially created  carbon copies of the creator of the universe.

    Declaring at the beginning of the debate you aren't gonna stand for any lying is pointless.

    You let the liar spin  and you get out the information you want heard; otherwise, you spend the entire debate talking about what the liar wants you talk about.

    •  Okay if made more simple (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      plankbob, Woody

      For example, 90% of the audience won't know what "innuendo" means.

      He has to speak in simple language that everyone will understand.

    •  You can fool some of the people (4+ / 0-)

      all of the time.  But by stating the issue upfront, he would take charge of the forum and set the rules.  You ALWAYS want to set the rules and make the other guy play on your ground.  Of course it won't have any effect on those whose minds are already made up.  But a call to principle and rules of engagement will affect the majority of the audience who believe that they are themselves honest (even if they are deeply biased in fact).  It also sets up for an easy reference if Mitt pulls any more wild-assed lies out of his tail -- "as I said in my opening remarks, it's impossible to rebut an outright lie thoughtfully in less than thirty seconds".  Do it.

    •  I've wondered about religiosity and lying. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Without meaning to attack the many fine Mormons nor the meaning and value they find in their religion, I've wondered whether the more 'devoutly' religious some people are, and the more outlandish their religious beliefs, the more they are likely to be effective liars.

      Tom Cruise and Scientology comes immediately to mind.

      The thing about devout religious liars is they are good at it! They've been living it every day, and are indignant that anyone would doubt their religious beliefs. They have well-polished and well-practiced answers to almost all common questions, they exhibit no sense of hesitation, no poker-'tell' that they are lying -- even when the evidence flies in their face (e.g. Romney on tax-cuts).

      This isn't the case of every religious person, of course -- two of the most ethical, truthful people I know are devout Quakers/Friends, I worked with a wonderful and honest Catholic professor, a relative was a great man and Protestant minister, etc. There are great works of truth in most religious traditions, and I assume there are good examples in all faiths.

      But it's reasonable to ask whether lying (as we understand it) is more commonly enabled, rationalized and practiced by some people in some religious traditions (and sects) than others.

      The Romney family and Mitt in particular has a long and high-level involvement with Mormonism, and Mitt's lies are now infamous. It raises questions about "lying for the Lord," "milk before meat," and other critiques of LDS truthiness. (read the first few paragraphs, at least)

      See the entire Appendix I in B. Carmon Hardy's peer-reviewed academic book, Solemn Covenant: the Mormon Polygamous Passage (U of Illinois Press, 1992), called "Lying for the Lord: an Essay" (pp.363-388, >100 footnotes & citations).  

      Are 'deep lies' common in LDS practices? Mormon founder Joseph Smith was convicted of fraud in 1826, before he became a prophet. He had told clients he could see hidden gold and treasures, using a magic stone in his hat (Dan Vogel, Joseph Smith: The Making of a Prophet, 2004, p.82-86). In the Mormon book of Ether (4:12), the angel Moroni seems to provide a rationale for it: "And whatsoever thing persuadeth men to do good is of me; for good cometh of none save it be of me."

      How do you debate a man who is so accomplished as a liar that he can pull it off with panache on national TV in front of a national audience of 70 million people?

  •  Nope. All wrong. (11+ / 0-)

    The whole point of the Gish Gallop is to lay down a mountain of bullshit so fast and so energetically that your opponent looks slow and confused.
       Look at President Obama's debate responses in isolation. He looks calm and measured, a reasonable man. But put Romney in beside him, running over the moderator, talking on like a speed freak, and  it looks like Obama lost the debate.
       The way to do it is to repond with indignation and amazement, as in "What the hell are you talking about? NOW you don't have a five trillion doallr tax plan? What is that on your website?"
      Or: You're going to cut rates and not raise taxes on the middle class, and not increase the deficit because of GROWTH? Yeah, like that worked so well for W. Why not just say "fairy dust!"
       Unless you call out the deception right away, and do it aggressively and act incredulous, you'll just be buried under a mountain of bullshit while you're patiently deconstructing the first lie he spewed out.

    •  I think you have it right. (10+ / 0-)

      Obama has to remain Presidential, but humor can go along way toward tearing Romney a new one without sinking to his level.

      The trick is to convey just how crazy and deceptive Mitt Romney is being via tone of voice and effectively dismissing the core of his argument, not so much the specifics.


      Obama: (visibly laughing at Romney's dumb remarks) Look, if the private sector was willing to provide coverage for Pre-Existing conditions, control rising health care costs and cover everybody, than there would be no Obama Care to repeal. It only exists because the insurance companies failed. Health Care is not a new issue. The market had plenty of time to correct itself and the insurance companies refused to act. So I did.

      Going backwards is not an option.

      We lose if we choose to forget; the lives of men, and money spent.

      by DeanDemocrat on Sat Oct 06, 2012 at 04:12:57 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I wasn't talking about during a debate (0+ / 0-)

      that has come and gone.  I'm saying:  Now that they know the hurricane offense is a possibility...NEGATE IT BEFORE IT STARTS.  I've consistently said that Obama sucked, that he got caught off guard by a compulsive liar and he didn't respond...for whatever reason...he didn't rise to the challenge.

      But he sure as shit can take a look at how he goes into future debates and as the PRESIDENT he can use his opening statement to say:  Look, enough with the fucking lies bud."  Then the viewer and pundit and moderator can also be put on notice that lies aren't to be tolerated or allowed to slide.  

      IMO substance should matter more than style.  IMO Obama won the debate despite Romney's theatrical mastery.  If the consumer is supposed to watch a debate for substantive reasons to vote for one candidate or another...the winner sure as shit shouldn't be the loud guy who didn't tell a single truth in 38 minutes of talking.  As I said in my opener, this isn't fucking high school debate or Beck V Spitzer.  Presidents should be held to a higher standard in terms of decorum and honesty.  Look the part, sound the part...if you don' lose...and the media should have immediately called the win for Obama.  It shouldn't be up to fact-checkers a day later to pt out the lies.  The only fucking guy telling it like it was was Reverend Al.  Tweety, instead of bursting a vessel, should have said, "LIES, all LIES, Obama wins hands down."  The CNN bobbleheads should have done the same fucking thing.  Bush was a liar and look what that did for the country.  The media should not be in the pocket of another liar...ever.

      But I, being poor, have only my dreams; I have laid my dreams under your feet; tread softly, because you tread on my dreams. – Yeats

      by Bill O Rights on Tue Oct 09, 2012 at 12:06:12 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Obama begins with a false statement. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RunawayRose, grrr, zesty grapher
    Now, debates only serve a purpose if they are honest debates.  If they devolve into rhetorical whirlwinds of innuendo and distortion then they serve no purpose and I simply won't be a party to such a perversion of such a hallowed forum...
    That really is what they are, though, and if you don't know that, you're kidding yourself.  More likely, his advisors thought there was no avoiding it but wanted him to go anyway and just stand there and look presidential, in the hope that that (which is a different kind of insubstantial rhetorical position)_would be sufficient.  So it's all big fake kabuki.  Everybody knows going in it's going to be more about gotcha live TV moments and sweaty lips and body language.  They even told us so up front.

    So, how do you combat the Gish Gallop?  Kung fu.  "If I understand what Governor Romney is saying, he has now reversed his previous position, and I applaud him for it.  This apology is long past overdue, and a number of people who were distraught over his position on X will now be relieved."

    I really wish Obama would throw that word apology at him, put it in Mitt's mouth when he does one of these reversals, like on the 47%.  Mitt, of course, would feel obligated to point out how he doesn't apologize for that or anything else he has ever said, that he even wrote a book called No Apologies.  That can only be hilarious.

    His campaign advisors are overpaid nitwits.  That's the conclusion I come to.

  •  The first time he says an "untruth"... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    call it out using the word "lie" Not "untruth", not "that's not exactly true" or "you're mistaken" or other words. Use the word "lie"

    "I'm sorry, but you just said a lie" or "I'm sorry, but that was a lie."

    Then the next time he says an "untruth", sigh deeply, shake your head, and say, "There you go again!"


  •  My solution - color commentators (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RunawayRose, puddleriver

    Like they do for sporting events, poker tournaments, etc.  Two guys talking the background, one giving the play by play:

    "Oh, look at that new 'fact' Mitt pulled right out of his ass!"

    "Get the fire extinguishers out for that one, Mike, that one had both legs soaked in gasoline! Talk about pants-on-fire!"

    "Ya know Vince, we expected Mitt to be aggressive, being the short stack in this race, but bluffing on the first hand,  before the flop,  that's REALLY putting it to Obama."

    "You gotta admit, No-Drama Obama is earning his name tonight.  The man is so cool in the face of these monstrous bluffs, he's just going to play his hand and ignore the pantload coming from the other side of the stage."

    "We've just heard the judges call on that 'fact', Vince.  Seems to be a new one that was made up special just for this debate.  As late as Monday, we have Mitt saying the exact opposite in a stump speech.  Let's go to the tape."

    "But before we go to the tape, we will have to have a word from our sponsors.  Stay tuned to heads-up competition in the 2012 finals, brought to you by Budweiser."

  •  Romney could have a "breakthrough" new policy (0+ / 0-)

    Such as immediately withdrawing from Afghanistan.  It is not sufficient to simply say that he has changed his position, Obama arguing staying in Afghanistan is not a winning argument.  Obama needs to be ready for ALL sorts of weird arguments and come across as the voice of sanity.  Romney has zero concerns about distorting any previous position or Republican position if it helps him get elected.  We do have a problem.

  •  I doubt that this would even register (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I'd like him to count the lies as it goes along, visibly, like on his fingers, with the occasional: "Well, there you go again".
    At the end of each Rmoney section: "Well, that's five MORE for the fact checkers.." "Honestly, do you expect the American people to be THAT gullible, Mitt?" "Oh, you very funny guy, this is a comedy routine, right?"

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