Wednesday, October 3, 2012 is the BIG night, the face off, the supreme contest, the ultimate battle, the main event.
At 9:00 pm, Eastern Standard Time drums will roll; trumpets will trumpet as PBS CSPAN, ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, CNN, MSNBC and, for all I know, Animal Planet and Nickelodeon broadcast the first 2012 Presidential Debate from the University of Denver . Fifty million Americans will be holding their collective breaths as Mitt and Barack will go at it mano a mano after months of sparing, preparation and coaching. Oh, the thrill of it all! Oh, the anticipation.
Jim Lehrer will do his best to keep the combatants on target and the action going. Hannity, Matthews, Maddow, Blitzer, Cooper, plus a phalanx of commentators, and seemingly anyone with coiffed hair who has mouthed the word "Republican" or "Democrat" will be at the ready to interpret, analyze and unequivocally declare the winner the millisecond the spent debaters break from their obligatory, phony, final handshake.
Networks will electronically monitor focus groups composed of "undecided" voters. Their reactions to each thrust and parry will be compiled and analyzed. It does, however, appear outrageous to me that the opinions of this cohort, arguably the most uninformed, timid, and indecisive group of our citizenry, have great predictive validity and should be of interest to anyone with a functioning brain.
In the days following the big debate the American public will be relentlessly bombarded with video snippets of bruising punches, painful jabs, inglorious misses, below-the-belt hits and maybe, just maybe, a KNOCKOUT blow.
Truth be told, most research indicates that Presidential debates have little or no impact on actual voting. (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/29/obama-romney-debates_n_1925690.html ) Most voters at this late stage in the game have their minds made up, and they ain't likely to change.
We the people have seen Obama react to real crises and deal with countless reporters' questions and challenges. Romney has been running for the public office for years, and for the Presidency since 2008. Aware citizens know how these men react; they have seen their skills lauded and their gaffs ridiculed. The most likely effect of a candidate's performance, and I mean performance, is to not change but rather to reinforce opinions already held.
Few past debates have affected outcomes of elections. Perhaps the two most famous of these were the 1960 Kennedy-Nixon debate and the 1980 Reagan-Carter match-off. The 1960 debate was pivotal neither because of words spoken nor opinions stated, but rather because of sweat and 5 o'clock shadow. Nixon was incredibly non-telegenic and Kennedy glimmered like a cool and collected young rock star. In 1980 when Carter and Reagan were running neck and neck, Reagan used his honed thespian skills to undo the plain-talking peanut-farmer candidate.
Decades later it seems likely that make-up artists, media savvy personnel, and script preparation greatly lower the likelihood of an impactful debate. Thus despite all the hoopla, October 3 will likely make for a pretty uneventful evening and have little effect on November 6th.
Why expect otherwise? Each candidate has his must-include-lines memorized; lines which will be utilized as answers, even if they do not fit the question asked. Mitt and Barack both have clever gotcha's and zingers, and given the slightest opportunity to get a laugh, generate some audience applause, or embarrass the foe; they will be launched.
The upcoming contest is in many ways like a WWE wrestling event: well planned, great build up, unlimited expectations, great announcing, faux anger, a little humor, coupled with much show and bluster. However, occasionally, something goes wrong; reality breaks out, blood is drawn and wrestling history made.
That history will be made next Wednesday - doubtful. Fifty million viewers including me sitting on the edge of their seats watching and waiting for that unlikely history-making knockout - non-debatable. Let's get the popcorn ready.
I don’t want to be composing this blog, but I am. If I was born in Utah, I'd probably be a Republican, a Mormon, and a Romney supporter. Thank you, Mr. Silverman. "Makers" please admit you were fortunate.
In response to a friend's request, I just read the New York Times Article, "Big Study Links Good Teachers to Lasting Gain." http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/06/education/big-study-links-good-teachers-to-lasting-gain.html?_r=1 The article summarizes a scientific investigation which concluded that kids who have had the luck to be taught by "good" teachers, have increased earning capacity, more college degrees and a lessened chance for teenage pregnancy.
Since I worked as a teacher in public schools for 20 years, and I brazenly consider myself a "good" teacher, this article made a great read. You ask, how do I know I was a good teacher? Well, parents, administrators and lots of students have said I was, and I immodestly have decided to concur. Note: Accolades will be sent on request.
Though, this article made me puff up a bit, obviously, I know that there is a lot more to becoming a successful, good human being than having a good 7th grade science teacher. Where you are born, who your parents are, your DNA, every life experience molds us into who we become.
If you were fortunate to have had the right genes, lived in the US and had a basketball coach for a dad, you might be Michael Jordan. If you had had George Romney for a dad, you'd most likely be a Mormon and a Republican. Personally, I'd prefer to be Michael than Willard (aka Mitt).
I don't want to get into a discussion of self-determinism and free will, but since, I have no choice, I strongly concur with B.F. Skinner's words as follows:
"In the traditional view, a person is free. He is autonomous in the sense that his behavior is uncaused. He can therefore be held responsible for what he does and justly punished if he offends. That view, together with its associated practices, must be re-examined when a scientific analysis reveals unsuspected controlling relations between behavior and environment"
I thank and blame my life experiences for making me who I am. Thanks Mom and Dad. Likewise, a bit of the good stuff about me is due to my 7th grade science teacher. Thank you, Mr. Silverman.
Apparently, many in this country sincerely believe that each person decides who he/she is and what he/sh will become. They believe that individuals are solely responsible for their success or failure. If you are a billionaire, it is because you earned it. If you are a panhandler on the mean streets of Dubuque, you earned that too. Take the credit! You did it or you blew it.
It is the belief of this writer that if we are affixed to an immutable concept of self-determinism, we lose our empathy, our compassion and the impetus to help the less-fortunate. Note; the word "fortunate" itself conflicts with the concept of self-determinism.
Recently, a well written comment was posted on Facebook in reference to my last blog, The-Makers-Takers-and-Fakers. It read,
"We see Obama supporting equal outcomes and not equal opportunity. That is a loser for everyone in the long run."
To this I respond as follows: Opportunity is not opportunity unless people have had events and people in their lives to enable them to take advantage of opportunity. Open doors are not enough to assure social mobility. We gotta do more.
Interactions between humans affect humans. I wish there was a Mr. Silverman out there to help the "makers" of our society look into their being and credit all the people and events which enabled them to be "successful" and then see what they can do to enable others to a good life, or perhaps they just want to live in gated enclaves.
Posted By Matt 1/14/2012
It is almost inconceivable that I would suggest President Obama look at archival footage of Geedubya for sagacious advice, but Mr. President, I suggest you visit the following site. This is no longer something to laugh at: