Friday, October 15, 2004

Final Debate

I feel like I should say something, for the sake of completeness, but I half-dozed through it. Anyway it felt like a lot of it was the same, even in the same words, as the first two. And it was less funny because they were getting better at it. Bush was starting to get a method down (ignore the question! Talk about education!) and you could tell he was better prepared, more in control. The only really noteworthy moment was when he denied saying he wasn't too worried about Osama Bin Laden -- c'mon, what's the point? Even if he doesn't remember this stuff, the smart thing is to assume that Kerry's staff has got documentary evidence for direct quotes and explicit figures. Unless Bush does remember saying it, and is hoping that a lot of the people who watch the debates will miss the "actually, Kerry was right" commentary in the media the next day. But it's more probable that people who missed the debates will see the commentary.

I woke up again a little at the end, when they were asked what they'd learned from the "strong women" in their lives. Housemate Nick felt this was a fluff question, a give away, a chance for the candidates to make themselves look warm and likable. Maybe, but that's not what they did. They were patronizing and condescending toward their own wives and daughters. Bush more than Kerry, of course, -- Kerry made an awkward joke about Tereasa's money and then told his "my mother told me the most important thing is integrity" story, and these fell a little flat, but didn't make me feel as though I were being patted on the head. But both of them also talked about how their wives "didn't let them get away with anything" and made them mind their manners. Well, thank goodness they don't have any policy ideas in those pretty little heads! (Unlike Hillary.) What I'd've liked to have heard about their wives: "She's someone I can discuss things with, when I need to understand something. She helps me clarify my own ideas and consider new perspectives. She can hold up the other side of an argument, when I need to see how my logic stands up. We've always been able to bounce ideas off one another, and I need that now more than ever." And their daughters... probably provide what any child provides, an incentive to think about the future, to see the world from a fresh point of view.

Anyway, Tribune columnist Mary Schmich seems to have felt the same way. I'm glad she agrees with me. I wouldn't like to think I was just being touchy. But I don't think it was just me that had a bad taste in my mouth after those "sweet" answers. They really were a little over-ripe.

1 comment:

Eric said...

A lot of the wives and family stuff rather grates when heard from this side of the pond. It always seems to look like the candidate has brought them along as accessories, as in matching shirt, tie, wife and daughters. We know our politicians have families (or not, as in Ted Heath), it just isn't seen as relevant. Which it isn't. They are supposed to be able to get on with their own lives rather than be part of an election campaign.

Some MPs (usually Tories for some reason) hire their wives as their secretaries. I've always assumed out of a combination of greed and not doing much casework. Sometimes as spouse or child manages to gain a certain amount of notoriety, but it's not generally seen as part of politics in the same way. It all looks and sounds very odd to me.

I suppose some of it is down to the President being head of state and therefore more like our royals than PMs. However I also get the impression that a sizable proportion of the US electorate won#t tolerate any departure from the "classic" nuclear family, and therefore they get pandered to.

It's something I find really off putting.

Incidentally the BBC is doing a thing on Wednesday evening about how politicians are deliberately creating a climate of fear. That may have some useful insights into how it's all working. I don't know if it's a programme that will be offered on the web. If it is I'll try and let you know.