So I am sitting at lunch wishing I had broken the habit of catching up with the news while eating. On this particular day writers and commentators were covering the latest debate on News Nation. As I watched part of the debate it became obvious why I had never before watched anything on this channel.
The debate was, to borrow a phrase from the Wall Street Journal’s sportswriter, Jason Gay, a “fenceless rodeo”. Two of the candidates, Vivek Ramaswamy and Ron DeSantis, had decided to use verbal stun guns to take out the winner of the first three rodeos, Niki Haley. And then Chris Christie, who barely made it to the rodeo grounds took on Ramaswamy calling him an assortment of words that translated mean, brainless. And so it went. It is often said that we should avoid watching Congress work unless we like sausage making. Well this was worse.
And then as I was enjoying my sandwich I read a story in the Wall Street Journal about drones being the new Air Force and that the US has few defenses to combat a drone led offensive. Quickly Hamas came to mind and then the attacks of 9/11. Israel wasn’t prepared; we on 9/11 were not prepared and it seems like post 9/11 a dozen books have been written about our on-going vulnerabilities to Non-State actors using new attack weapons. But, no questions about our unpreparedness were asked of the four candidates who want to be the leader of the free world.
Questions were asked about what should be done to secure our Southern Border. Ron DeSantis talked about shooting persons crossing illegally if they had a backpack on that might be loaded with fentanyl. Shoot first? Maybe this is the kind of thinking that necessarily follows the inability of our two political parties to work together toward solutions.
Perhaps there were questions about educational failure but I was certainly not taking notes and don’t recall any answers but then that is the problem. We have a number of very serious problems but our so-called leaders would rather fight than reach a negotiated position. And for all who think leaders who negotiate are not leaders you should apply for citizenship in Luxembourg. America’s motto: Out of Many One. If that remains a part of America’s mission negotiation is not discretionary.
A Final Thought on Debates
Apparently CNN will be staging debates in Iowa and New Hampshire just ahead of their primaries. The first will, it is said, be at Drake University on January 10th. The article in the Intelligencer reports that eligibility requirements will be elevated likely leading to only three who will be qualified: Donald Trump, Niki Haley and Ron DeSantis.
Presumably Trump will mock the debate and decline the invitation. So here is my work-around.
CNN should develop a list of questions that allow it to put together video clips of answers by each candidate. There is a lot of video footage and hopefully the editors could use clips from a wide range of news services. Each question to the candidates should be first answered by a relevant video clip. Then each candidate on stage should be allowed time to elaborate on their earlier stated position or critique the other candidate’s position. If Trump chooses not to participate his video clip answers will nonetheless be included. Tight time limits should be enforced using a visual warning of time elapsing and when the allotted time has expired the microphone in use will be muted.
I am sure there are variations on this skeletal proposal that would improve it. But if Trump, either in person or virtually, cannot be included there should not be a debate. Creating cage match forums for his lagging competitors to beat each other up is a destructive farce.
Al Sikes is the former Chair of the Federal Communications Commission under George H.W. Bush. Al writes on themes from his book, Culture Leads Leaders Follow published by Koehler Books.