Thursday, August 1, 2019

Dems manage to slip message past CNN hoopla

Electronic Superhighway: Continental U.S., Alaska, Hawaii, by Nam June Park (Smithsonian Museum of American Art)
     Getting your news from television is like trying to breathe through a straw.
     It can be done. But takes effort and you risk suffocation. 
     At least I assume that would be the case. To be honest, I've never tried breathing through a straw. Just as I've never settled for getting my news from television. 
     Though occasionally I watch, typically after some big story—the fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris—or during some special news event, such as the Democratic Presidential Debates in Detroit Tuesday and Wednesday night. Invariably I'm let down, seeing endless iterations of something I learned on Twitter five hours earlier.    

     I suppose there is comfort that the disappointment was more from the CNN hoopla than any Democratic misstep, which is refreshing. Fox News is unwatchable propaganda that must require a lobotomy to endure, but that doesn't make me a fan of CNN either. Five years ago I pointed out how they had abandoned journalism and lurched into performance art after the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, and every time I give it another try, I'm reminded of how what they do is not news but entertainment. Nearly a quarter hour passed at the start of each night, while CNN hyped the show you were already tuned into and waiting to watch, playing a sizzle reel of the various candidates that was half American Idol set-up, half WWE fight hype. Did they have to make it a cage match between Godzilla and Rodan to keep viewers from flipping over to re-runs of "The Big Bang Theory?" Maybe. 
     Then there was the presentation of colors. Now I love the flag, fly the flag, have no trouble seeing it honored, nor singing the National Anthem. Why CNN had to do so before a debate of our nation's most pressing problems is a mystery—I've poked around, trying to find an answer; maybe readers can help. I assume the Democrats insisted, to dramatize they're not the traitors the Republicans insist they are. If so it was an odd and time-wasting bit of reactive pageantry. Aren't the flag pins enough? 
      The CNN moderators—Jake Tapper, Dana Bash and Don Lemon—seemed intent on creating drama, on getting the various candidates to clash with each other, or force them to admit they'll do something unpopular, like raise taxes, rather than explore the policies they were promoting.  Maybe CNN thinks that makes good television; then again, so would having Joe Biden and Kamala Harris arm wrestle. 
     Maybe that's next. Or maybe it's aimed at people who aren't me. I'm not really the target audience. The only way I made it through both debates was that I had my wife and younger son to provide running commentary and discussion, not to mention Facebook Scrabble on my iPhone to help pass the time—I didn't bother tweeting, as I did in years past, as Twitter is so clotted by ads and big footed by social media stars there hardly seemed any point in doing so.
      That's the bad news. The good news is that the Democratic candidates, all 20 of them, put on performances that ranged from credible to excellent in this second set of debates. There was much sensible emphasis on health care, one of the great social issues of our time. Even self-help guru Marianne Williamson, who delivered oblique calls to govern with love the first time around, scored points and even—dare I say it?—made sense at times.  Joe Biden, the front runner, got beat up on, though not as much this time, and had a tendency to clam up too quickly when the moderators tried to cut him off, a bad sign for succeeding in any coming mudpit wrestle with Donald Trump. Kamala Harris, the California senator and former attorney general, did well again, though not quite as well as before, while tech maven Andrew Yang did better. He kept to his one trick pony plan of paying every American a grand a month, and the concept—why should only farmers and Amazon get big government breaks?—started to make some sense. Corey Booker pushed for unity,  The first night Elizabeth Warren, whom I initially wrote off as a crank, appeared grounded, and even Bernie Sanders seemed less crazed, though he would do better not to yell everything he says.  He's on television, not standing on a stump in Vermont in 1850, trying to project to the top hatted listeners in the back of the crowd.
      Any one of them would be a far better president than Donald Trump—that goes without saying. As to whether they can win, given the natural advantage enjoyed by a sitting president, the fervor of his supporters, who back him in the face of a constant barrage of ethical lapses, racist statements and acts, and groveling before dictators, is another matter. But there is cause for hope—the seeds are in the ground, the sprouts are rising toward the sun, and at least the cloud of dooming locusts hasn't presented itself early in the season. They'll be plenty of time for desperation later, but I'm content to begin the first day of August with a ray of hope.


  1. I think the 10 on stage last night forgot to hammer home the fact that whatever plan is finally settled on, whether health care, infrastructure, environmental, etc. it's light years ahead of whatever Dolt .45 and the GOP has and will offer. The awfulness of Trump is ripe for use as a message by the Dems - and they seem to have overlooked that last evening. However, I still believe there are many more of us than them, so let's have the debates, but tone down the squabbling and keep using Dolt .45 as a message enforcing punching bag.

  2. I'm curious...why did Warren seem like "a crank" to you? I've never heard her say anything other than painfully obvious truths about how the financial system screws over ordinary people. Is it that stupid Pocahontas thing?

    1. Maybe. I guess it's my reservations about this being the moment to overhaul our economic system. The bus driver driving the bus over a cliff is not the moment to start talking about the need for a new transmission.

    2. We need someoe who can wrestle the wheel away from the lunatic driving it, and steer it back onto Normal Road, even if it's only long enough to reach the next stop. After the bus has been saved from plunging over the abyss, we can find the mechanic who can work on the engine and transmission.

      If Joe Biden were to promise not to seek a second term (assuming he even survives to 2024, when he would be 82), he would probably not only get the nomination, but also kick 45's fat ass to the curb. If he selected Warren as his running mate, as a sitting V-P she could be elected in her own right and start working on the bus six years from now.

      The progressives would be happy, the moderates would be happy, and Trump would be a historcal abberation, hopefully incarcerated in a padded cell within a Federal facility, with mush both on his plate and inside his head.

  3. My vote would go to whichever candidate would refuse to engage in debates with Donald Trump, saying, "The next time I talk to Donald Trump will be when he hands over the keys to the White House, which I will check carefully to make sure they're all there." To debate Donald Trump is either to descend to his level of lying and mud slinging or to look like a self righteous wimp taking all his low blows without retaliation.


  4. No, Marianne Williamson didn't ,make sense, as she never has!
    She's a total whackjob.
    She grew up Jewish, then became some sort of Christian evangelist, then this self help nut who also says she's Jewish again.
    She belongs locked up in a rubber room, so she can't hurt herself or anyone else.

  5. I think as the debates continue with the fringe players gone, the focus of the question/answer format will evolve. More attention will be given to specific ideas, including the importance of defeating Trump.
    Right now it’s a free-for-all with candidates at each other’s throats.

  6. My wife and I are just waiting for the circus to end and for the confusion to sort itself out...and for the field to narrow itself down to maybe three or four strong contenders. We may not have a clear front-runner for the Democratic nomination for another six's like predicting a baseball pennant race in April or May. We will have all of the fall and maybe even much of the winter to slog through. It's still pretty early yet.

    As for CNN, I blew them off for good when they became the Crash News Network in 2014, and pre-empted or canceled most of their excellent documentary series about the Eighties. They did that over and over, for several months. Then they did the same thing two years later, with their series on the Nineties. Endless "Breaking Nooze" about Hillary...mostly "new dirt" that was not really news at all.

    My wife, who's addicted to MSNBC, calls CNN "Fox Lite"...and I seldom drink their brand of Kool-Aid anymore. But I still watch CBS and NBC every evening, a habit that started in the mid-Sixties and which is now impossible to break. Even quitting cigarettes (after 32 years) was easier. Their demographic is not the young, or even the middle-aged. It's mostly long-time TV news junkies who've been watching for decades--aging Boomers (like me). Which is why all their sponsors are the geezer meds...the ones with too many Xs and Zs in their names.

  7. "Anyone one of them would be a far better President than Donald Trump"
    is what we need to remember.
    But how do we get 4 or 5 percent of the MAGA persuasion to come to their senses?
    Uncle Joe, aka Biden, really does have to use these debates as sparring sessions to prepare himself for the septic tank debates possibly in his future.


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