December 16, 2015
If a human mind were composed of a dozen eggs, and you soft-boiled them, broke them open, and let the goo run all over the plate, down on to the table, soon dripping on to the floor, that would be mind control, in the sense that you’re creating meaningless chaos, where no thought is important or makes sense or adds up to a cogent point.
That was the CNN-hosted Republic Presidential debate, with what was it, nine candidates sounding off, interrupting one another, and mentioning Trump so often it seemed like they were afflicted with a one-note samba syndrome.
You could conclude CNN, a Democratic stronghold, wanted the chaos, to throw the Republicans into an exceedingly bad and foul light, but other recent Presidential debates, hosted by other networks, have come across in the same basic fashion.
The problem starts with networks hosting these lunatic events. Since when does a debate need a moderator who controls and asks all the questions? Since when does a network need to have any role at all?
A debate is supposed to be two people contending over an important issue.
For contrast, consider the 1858 Abraham Lincoln-Stephen Douglas face-off—when apparently citizens still had a semblance of intelligence. Both men were running for a US Senate seat in Illinois. In those days, state legislatures chose US Senators.
But the issue in the debates was slavery, so the interest was intense and it was national. Here was the agreed-upon format: seven debates in seven Illinois towns over the course of three weeks; in each debate, the opening candidate would speak for 60 minutes, his opponent would speak for 90 minutes, and then the first candidate would return for 30 minutes.
The debates drew large crowds. Chicago newspapers had stenographers in each town. The stenos took down every word, and newspapers across the nation printed, in full, the texts.
Those were debates. No one with sprayed hair was in control. The men talked. And talked.
If you could transport the CNN Republican debate back in time to one of those Illinois towns, the audience would conclude, in short order, that all the participants were insane, possibly suffering from brain damage.
“These people are running for…what did you say? President??!!?? You’re joking. This a joke, yes?”
What do you think the 1858 audience would conclude about the state of the country in 2015? A country that actually acquiesced in a “debate” of this sort?
What do you think the 1858 audience would conclude about the two political parties, in 2015, who permitted such debates, and about the general electorate who expressed partisan support for either party?