Between a senate debate on Monday and a presidential debate on Wednesday, I was glued to the tv this week. I’ll be in my home state this weekend, and a sad, pathetic part of me hopes I can catch their Senate debate too.
The Massachusetts Senate debate was pretty weird, I’ll grant you. It felt like there were three people on the stage who wanted to dominate conversation, but there are only two candidates. The third was the host, David Gregory, who, in his defense, had agreed to do a “Meet the Press” style roundtable. Only as it turns out, no one liked that style.
I know very well what it is like to be a woman who wants to speak. About 10 minutes into it I could see how this was going to play out: male candidate dominates conversation, when female candidate tries to push her way in she’s treated like a b*tch. Women clearly are Not Supposed To Interrupt. (As a chronic interrupter, I know well that interrupting is not always defensible. But in a debate, that’s often the name of the game). So Brown replied to one of Warren’s interjections “I’m not a student in your classroom”, which sounded a whole lot to me like a new version of “that’s unladylike” (Todd Akin, to Claire McCaskill, 2012) or “unbecoming” (Mitt Romney, to Shannon O’Brien, 2003).
Wednesday night was one of the most amazing wonkish debates I have every heard. Folks turning in for soundbites (or Tucker Carlson) must have been wildly disappointed. It is great to hear details, figures and plans. What I found interesting was that the amount of detail almost obscured the fundamental ideological differences between the approaches of the two candidates and their parties.
Two political things I am sick of:
a. Misleading statistics about deficit spending. Yes, the deficit is capital-B Bad. And yes, it grows every day. When that statistic is used as if it comes from wanton recklessness during the last four years, I start to get itchy. A huge portion of the deficit is due to interest on massive debt that grew by the trillions during the 2000s. I get it, whoever is in office is tasked with bringing that down. But I don’t think it’s fair to lay blame for the growth at their feet.
b. Comparisons of the private sector to the government. Government and the private sector have fundamentally different purposes. The private sector is out to earn as much money as possible, increasing capital. The government is out to care for and protect its citizens (I realize others may disagree with this assessment). It would be folly for the government to ignore the bottom line – in this sense they can learn from principles of private sector activity. But financial decisions must be made with the common good and protection of the vulnerable in mind.
Big Bird is having quite the cultural moment. Some people make the “I like Big Bird but I’ll cut PBS” out to be an inconsequential meme, but I think there’s more to it than that. Big Bird represents a shared cultural experience that is wholesome, educational, loving, and supportive. We should be proud of it as a society, and I hope we’d be willing to spend a tiny fraction of our budget on it. I don’t really know many undecided voters, but I did hear from one that she was going to base her vote totally on Romney’s lack of support for public television (particularly because it exposes people to music and theater). Positioning one’s self as against a public service is telling. I think this is more than a meme.
If you’re still reading and haven’t written me off as a far-left rambler, I have some news on the performance front, which is that I was selected as a finalist in the Arkadi Foundation Opera Idol competition. Finals will be in May in NYC.
Have a great weekend!
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