Saturday, November 23, 2019

Issue Avoided

Questions posed at a debate should give candidates an opportunity to shed light upon what they would do in the office for which they are running. Rachel Maddow failed that test when in Atlanta, she asked (beginning at 1:51 of the video below) of four candidates- Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar, Bernie Sanders, and Pete Buttigieg- a question about impeachment. None of those questions was pertinent because none pertained to any actions they would do if elected President.

Serendipitously, we may have gotten a hint from what six of the candidates said in their closing statement.

Cory Booker pledged to bring "people together to create transformative change, not just beat Donald Trump." Amy Klobuchar wants to "get those independents and moderate Republicans who cannot stomach this guy anymore" to build a coalition and not "just beat Donald Trump." Tulsi Gabbard maintained her "operating principles" would be "inclusion, unity, respect, aloha."Echoing Gabbard, Pete Buttigieg argued "that era must be characterized not by exclusion but by belonging."

Kamala Harris, who appears really, really not to like Donald Trump, nevertheless struck a similar tone, stating "We also need someone who can unify the party and the country and who has the experience of having done that." Even (allegedly) Fightin' Bernie got into the act, arguing "I will lead an administration that will look like America, will end the divisiveness brought by Trump, and bring us together." It is to be wished that Sanders and Harris were being disingenuous.  The others actually appear sincere.

In an upset, Joe Biden didn't say anything as stupid or naive as these statements. However, he set the pace in this cycle (Barack Obama has retired the trophy) for blind faith, contending in May in New Hampshire

I just think there is a way, and the thing that will fundamentally change things is with Donald Trump out of the White House — not a joke — you will see an epiphany occur among many of my Republican friends,” he said. “And it’s already beginning. In the House now, you’ve seen people that in fact were not willing to vote for any Democratic initiative, even if they agreed with it, because they didn’t want to be the odd person out if it wasn’t going to pass. There’s no sense in getting politically beaten for something that’s not going to happen. But you are seeing the talk, even the dialogue is changing.

Many of us shook our head or even laughed upon reading this from a guy with decades in politics and eight years serving the Muslim from Kenya (a characterization condoned by those fellow who are going to have an epiphany).

However, Biden's failure to deliver something anywhere as ridiculous as his earlier remarks about GOP intentions, as well as the silly remarks of some of his rivals, suggests that Maddow's question about impeachment, at the beginning of the event, fell way off the mark. Instead of asking the candidates about their approach to impeachment in the Senate or on the campaign trail, the multi-million dollar host would have served the public well with a question such as "If elected President, would you seriously consider pardoning Donald Trump?"

A few of the candidates may have tried to get off the hook by maintaining that the Department of Justice in their administration would be impartial, would evaluate the situation based on the facts at the time, or would see that Justice is done. However, after less than three years of President Trump, few voters still believe the Justice Department ever is likely to be completely objective.

Nor does anyone want to hear it. Democratic voters would be unsatisfied, Republican voters would not be appeased, and independents would be unimpressed with the candidates' lack of resolve. The proper answer- given that a President should not give the Attorney General specific instructions- would be any variation of "I would insist that anyone who is Attorney General in my administration will believe that no one is above the law, and will act accordingly."

Preferably, he or she would make the statement with the emphasis on "no one." Given that six of the candidates responded to the question with some vision that their mission as President would be to encourage Americans to hold hands and sing "Kumbaya"- instead of enacting needed change- we should not be surprised if Donald Trump, upon being defeated next November, gets to skate.  

There is, nonetheless, a more positive scenario. I may be putting too much emphasis on boring and bland closing statement segment all too common in televised debates. Better if voters had had the opportunity to hear candidates comment on whether in their Administration Donald Trump would be held accountable to the rule of law than to be subjected to a stupid round of opening questions from someone who demonstrated that being a Rhodes scholar is sound and fury and image, signifying nothing.

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