Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Master Debaters

Ever since announcing my candidacy for President of the United States of America in 2040, I've taken more of an interest in the actual workings of American Politics.

Evidently, people are now voting for the people (Delegates) who will have to vote for the person (Candidate) who we want to be an option for a select group of people (either the Electoral College or the College of Cardinals) to later vote for for president in November after, of course, we vote to convince them (the Electoral Cardinals) to vote how we would like them to so that eventually the Supreme Court can just pick someone.

Confused?

The current process - the very first set of votes - is called the "Primaries," which if I remember my grade school art classes should be red, blue and yellow. And yet there are only two major parties - the red party and the blue party. I don't know what happened to the yellow party, and whenever I ask political science geeks about it they look at me funny so I've stopped asking them anything altogether.

Personally, I don't consider myself a red or a blue. I wonder if that makes me "yellow?"

I guess the red party has made up their mind already except that nobody bothered to clue in Mike Huckabee. But pretty much nobody is paying attention to that side of the two-colored spectrum of politics anymore.

That leaves everyone's focus on the blue primary, where Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are slugging it out even as I write this.

Part of the whole primary ordeal is that occasionally the candidates have to get together on the television and snidely and obliquely insinuate things about one another in front of the audience. This ritual is called a debate. Back in my dorkier days of high school, I was on the debating team. To this day, I can't remember why, but I'm almost positive it wasn't to meet beautiful women. In fact I spent most of my time doodling grotesque and unflattering pictures of my debate instructor. But since I will eventually need to participate in 2040, and since I clearly learned nothing in high school, I figured now would be a good time to sit down with my laptop, use the free-yet-spotty wireless Internet at the local coffee shop, and see what I can pick up from these two master debaters.

Pause for childish snickering.

I got a chance to witness first hand the debating styles of these two candidates. I thought I'd compare two notes on their different styles:


(A) Early on in the debate, Obama said that Clinton's health care policy apparently mandates that every man, woman, child and beast in the country buy the government's insurance. Obama claimed that this would cause thousands of people to be penalized for not being able to afford it. Clinton decried Obama over the weekend with a Shame on You speech and did so again in the debating ritual.

Now, I have no interest in whether or not that health care argument is true. I'm not sure that anyone really cares. The point is to take a look at the argument and see how it's put together. Here's a quick map of Obama's argument:

If: Clinton's plan mandates that everyone pay a certain amount for health insurance,
And: people are fined for not buying health insurance (per the understood meaning of 'mandate')
And: thousands of people might not be able to afford that mandated amount,
Then: thousands of people might be fined due to Clinton's plan.

Even if it's not true, the argument is logically constructed and deserves a logical answer. Luckily for Clinton, Obama does not now nor has ever nor will ever talk about the issues ever (except for this instance and the occasional other instances throughout the campaign). Clinton is the one who talks about issues. So she probably won't have to answer too many of those.


(B) The moderators of the debate asked whether or not Obama rejects Farrakhan's support. Apparently, Farrakhan is not an incredibly popular guy. Obama responded that he has "denounced" Farrakhan and his past statements. Clinton, sensing blood, insisted that Obama must reject Farrakhan and not denounce him because denounce and reject are not the same thing. Obama then conceded the point, stating that he now both rejects AND denounces Farrakhan.

Ah HA! Chalk up one point to Clinton, baby!

Of course, not knowing what either word means, I had to check my dictionary. Denounce:
"1. to condemn or censure openly or publicly." Reject: "1. to refuse to have, take, recognize, etc."

Thus, Clinton proves that Obama is guilty of using synonyms. At first glance, one might think this is a ridiculous argument that does nothing but insinuate snidely and obliquely that Obama is an anti-Semite (Oh wait! That's the whole point of these things!), but bear in mind that "Semantics and Word Usage" is one of the major issues of the campaign.

In fact, I think "Semantics and Word Usage" is number three behind the "Economy" and "Iraq" in importance to the electorate. Since Clinton is the issues candidate, it's only fitting that she should make a big deal out of Obama refusing to repeat the exact word that the moderator used in the question but instead substituting a more fitting and appropriate word.

So now, as a candidate-in-waiting for the 2040 elections I need simply sit back, watch the results of the March 4th primaries, see which tactic is most effective and then take note of it to use at a later date. Keep that in mind, Texas, Ohio, Vermont and that really tiny one that I could never find on a geography test.

2 comments:

your girlfriend said...

you might also want to draft a future tactic in the event that ralph nader decides to run against you

Geoff said...

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