Sun. May 26th, 2024

There Was a Debate… Then There Was THE DEEEEEBate…

It was fascinating, in a very mild sense of the word, to watch the cautious fencing of Senators Obama and McCain last night, under negotiated and controlled circumstances.  I was awake for most of it.

Much more fascinating was the debate on KTLK-AM 1150 and KRLA-AM 850 between conservative talk show host Dennis Prager – he of the measured and reasonable-sounding proposition – and liberal host and no-holds-barred liberal party girl Stepanie Miller.

What a contrast.  Prager, raised by liberal Jewish parents, now disenchanted with the values of the left, very considered and well-spoken (even when dead wrong); and Miller, daughter of a conservative politician and running-mate of Barry Goldwater, a full-blown liberal advocate with a sense of humor and never willing to pass up an opportunity at self-deprecation.

Interestingly, the debate was promoted in true Bush Administration-style on conservative radio station KRLA:  “Watch the televised Presidential Debate on the big screen, then stay and see Dennis Prager take on Stephanie Miller LIVE AND IN PERSON!!!


I assume not too many liberals would have that KRLA password, so the tradition of controlled access was presumably observed.  Fortunatley, other avenues to obtain tickets were available, and Miller seemed to have a strong cheering section in the audience.

Hopefully, there will be a podcast that can be downloaded and analyzed.  In short, Prager presented a very reasoned argument for a conservative reality that bears little resemblance to modern-day America, and Miller generally softened her outrage with humor.

I have to hand kudos to Prager.  He did an excellent job of defending the indefensible, and had he been given the command of  troops in Afghanistan, he might have won the war in Iraq by now.  His earnest defense of common American values was laudable, except for the fact that they are entirely irrelevant to any discussion of the Bush Administration.  He was defending the values that Miller’s father and the late Senator Goldwater espoused, long-abandoned by the neo-conservative aparatchiks like Wolfson, Rumsfeld, et al.  And having read Goldwater’s autobiography and John Dean’s Conservatives Without Conscience. I can say that the things Goldwater rails about concerning Democrats – fiscal policy, military adventurism, expansion of government, unbridled spending – are the things the current Republican Administration has practiced with abandon and aplomb.

What was briefly touched on in the Presidential debate was aired in full splendor in the non-presidential sparring match.  Transforming surpluses to deficits.  Decisions about where we needed to fight a war.  Lies and deceit perpetrated on the American people.  All this and more was covered in a free-ranging and lively Lincoln & Douglas-style engagement.

Yet civility reined.  No cries of “terrorist” or “kill him!” from the audience.  How refreshing!

We split off from the United Kingdom centuries ago, but I think they have ideas we should strongly consider.  Like three-month political campaign seasons and publicly funded political campaigns.  Prager supported the view that public financing was antithetical to American principles, that anyone should be allowed to support his candidates of choice to the full extent of his capabilities and desires.  It was all I could do to resist leaping through the radio to remind him that corporations, though accorded personhood under the law, nonetheless are persons without moral or ethical compass, governed only by the principles of survival and profit.  In short, they’re sociopaths, and I don’t want one living next door to me and my family, much less having unbridled “free speech”, as much as they can buy.

And I think we should have President’s questions, like the Brits have Prime Minster’s questions in Parliament.  I think Miller would excel, and I would nominate her for Prime Minister.

All I can say is that they got it right in The Winslow Boy.  The principle should be, “Let right be done,” and let it be done efficiently, ethically and economically.  Would that we could apply such worthy principles to our electoral process.  How the Supreme Court got to the point of equating dollars and free speech, I will never understand.

May the Higher Power of your choice choose to not rain on your parade this fine day.