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About this blog: The Raucous Caucus shares the southpaw perspectives of this Boomer on the state of the nation, the world, and, sometimes, other stuff. I enjoy crafting it to keep current, and occasionally to rant on some issue I care about deeply...  (More)

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Shooting at the messengers – and the horses they ride in on.

Uploaded: Nov 2, 2015
Partisans, neutrals, networks, and even the families of the candidates can all agree on one thing: last week’s GOP gathering in Boulder was a disaster. We all part company, however, on why, and what to do about it.

Clearly the right-side faithful would like to blame the dark forces of the mainstream media, who, they suspect, have loaded the questions to make their candidates look unPresidential, or even silly. The largest ovation of the night, by far, went to a meta-attack on the CNBC moderators. But while insipid inquiries about superheroes and fantasy sports betting do no particular credit to the fifth estate, most conspiracy theories only reveal the fragile mental health of their adherents. ‘UnPresidential’ well defines this crop of candidates, well before the stage lights go up.

I do fault the media for three things, generally. The first is its breathless coverage of campaign minutiae, still more than a year in advance of the election. There is plenty of evidence that most folks simply have not yet made up their minds, yet we see poll after poll presented, and dissected as if any of it matters. It doesn’t. We also see self-important pundits fawning over bon-mots and zingers, as if this process is really a season of Survivor: Stand-up Comedy edition. It’s not. I do not care who’s quickest with a joke, as it has sweet-nothing to do with who’d make the best Commander-in-Chief.

As follows from that point, the networks are mostly interested in ratings – an old complaint that is no less current than when first expressed. News divisions are profit centers, and they are judged by market forces horribly divorced from the civic duties our Founders laid-out for them in the First Amendment. Controversy sells newspapers and lights up TV screens, a phrase that might double as Mr. Trump’s campaign slogan. With such a nonsensical goal, is anyone surprised that the questions include a great deal of nonsense?

Indeed, that’s a big reason why the fevered conspiracy theorists are wrong – the cynical networks don’t care who wins – they care who watches.

Finally, I’ll crib from Amy Davidson that the worst fault of the CNBC moderators was their failure to actually moderate the proceedings. They allowed the candidates to wander far off-topic and way over time – and they allowed the interviewees to make them the issue. They lost control of the process, so that now in two of the three GOP gatherings, the press has been the story (the heat in the room dominated the second edition). By contrast, Anderson Cooper did a reasonable job in the first Dem debate – asking skeptical questions and pushing past deflections and pat answers for actual substance.

So, what to make of the GOP complaints and their Sunday pow-wow among the campaigns to address them? They have advocated for several changes, including longer opening/closing statements, and the use of only pre-approved graphics during the telecast. These are clearly designed to move the debates away from any semblance of a debate, and in the direction of free air-time for campaign commercials. The pre-approval of graphics is particularly manipulative, and troubling. The networks should obviously refuse to become the propaganda organs of the campaigns (well, except for the one that lives for that role).

I’ll make a passing wave at the logistical difficulties of conducting a real ‘debate’ among ten or eleven egos eager for air-time and sound bite-age that might resurrect campaign prospects. That’s an inherent part of the problem, made much worse by the fact that candidates can stay afloat in the process with the patronage of only one-or-two billionaire benefactors.

But the real problem here is the very lack of substance in the Republican field. Unless they can manage and control the narrative, within the friendly confines of the right-wing echo chamber, they look lost and insubstantial. One of the few telling moments last week was pole-sitter Ben Carson’s struggle to recall the lines he’d memorized about ‘his’ tax proposal. In that instant, it became clear that he is more like a desperate undergraduate cramming for the civics exam than he is a celebrated surgeon commanding the O.R.

It only happened because he was forced off-script, but it revealed that he obviously had no clue how his own plan worked. That must have sent a shudder down the spines of the other campaign staffs, who want to avoid such a terrible moment for their own implausible candidates. Hence, the rage against the media machine; it’s out of self-defense by a featherweight bunch, imperiled at being revealed. The unhappiness is an unintended consequence of the current system that the GOP created.

They’d like to plug the messengers or at least abuse their horses, but this is the gang who can’t shoot straight -- they are certain to miss.

Comments

 +   5 people like this
Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Nov 2, 2015 at 3:28 pm

I recommend a THREE hour debate!

. 4 candidates the 1st hr.
. 4 candidates the 2nd hr.
. Remaining candidates the 3rd hr.

Who debates at what time slot us decided by choosing a number from a brown bag.

3 highly rated questioners.

I have no idea how to choose the questioners! GOOD LUCK! VIVA AMERICA! VIVA!




 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Nov 2, 2015 at 4:23 pm

Chris Christie needs medical assistance - Web Link


 +   7 people like this
Posted by A. B. Orowitz, a resident of another community,
on Nov 2, 2015 at 6:23 pm

Web Link

Excerpt: 'Priebus said that the new format would satisfy not only the candidates but also Republican voters, many of whom have complained about moderators’ ”out-of-control obsession with verifiable information.”

“This is a Presidential debate,” Priebus said. “If people want facts, they can watch ‘Jeopardy.’ ”'


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Nov 3, 2015 at 9:16 am

BUSH IS OUT OF RACE tee hee...

Web Link


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Hotslide, a resident of Oak Tree Acres,
on Nov 4, 2015 at 11:42 am

Careful Tom, your ladder is leaning a bit far left, unless you want it to lean that way. So Carson stumbles on a tax question rifled at him by a moderator jerk. Did you check the box to write him off on that ? Sounds like it. The guy is a thinker and I'm sure if elected he would surround himself with good tax people to make the hard decisions. Contrast that with what we have today, a fraudulent socialist in office who surrounded himself with his left wing college chronies who kiss his a**. I think if you take a look at what happened in elections yesterday, you will see that the thinking electorate is sick of this administrations socialist bent, disdain for the Constitution, and the "executive orders" the country hater in charge tosses out like a spoiled brat when he can't get agreement. And as Rubio pointed out the democrats have by far the biggest super-pac: the legacy media, which got slapped down in that "so called debate". You are going to find out next year that one of those "implausible candidates" you refer to is going crush the liar clinton by a large margin.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Nov 4, 2015 at 12:53 pm

I DON'T TRUST REUBLICANS - Web Link

THEY GET INTO TROUBLE AND TRY TO LIE OUT OF IT...WHAT DAT...


 +   3 people like this
Posted by Dave, a resident of Danville,
on Nov 4, 2015 at 1:14 pm

Hotslide -

I'm assuming that you were equally outraged at the Shrub's many executive orders, some of which were "secret." Yes....secret laws... that sounds very democratic.


 +   9 people like this
Posted by BobB, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood,
on Nov 4, 2015 at 1:20 pm

@Hotslide,

I'd write him off because he thinks the world was created in 6 days. Literally, 6 days. That is just ignorant.


 +   9 people like this
Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of Alamo,
on Nov 5, 2015 at 11:24 am

Hi Hots -- "jerk moderator?" You proved the point of my title -- it's all about the messenger. You do have this opinion blog pegged as unapologetically liberal, except when it occasionally isn't.

Why is it, do you suppose, that every time I write something about the GOP I get these howls of "But ... Obama!" ? I also think it's telling that the best defense of Carson is that he's an empty vessel who will surround himself with knowledgeable people. According to Poppy Bush41, that didn't work out so well for his son43. Web Link Don't you wonder what it would be like to have a candidate for whom that you didn't have to make excuses all the time?

As to this week's elections, I'm not sure I'd be measuring the White House curtains just yet. I think Matt Bevan has Kim Davis to thank for riling the KY base all the way to the polls -- which is fair game (Rove did it in 2004), but they're not a demographic I'd call the "thinking electorate."

And as to Houston, I hope the transgender community keeps at it. As the same-sex marriage issue demonstrated, adolescent hets of all ages had to pass through a phase where it was all about the sex (eww). This is slightly worse, in that Houstonians reverted to the potty training stage, but eventually maturity, reason and goodwill will probably prevail. Frankly, as a card-carrying father of multiple daughters, I can't quite get why anyone would be worried that their bathrooms might ever be considered a magnet. This, too, shall pass, methinks.


 +   3 people like this
Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Nov 6, 2015 at 9:33 am

Not so fast Tom...what about this? Web Link Toilets are important hang outs for some good folks!

It seems that the TG community has absolutely no fear of fighting for their basic civil rights!

i rest my case...


 +   3 people like this
Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Nov 6, 2015 at 9:42 am

Transgender Rights: Web Link

I don't understand why fellow Americans are so disrespectful of the human rights of Transgender Americans...please explain.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Change voting options, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood,
on Nov 6, 2015 at 11:02 am

We need a primary with another option:
None of the above!

And if
None of the above
wins,
then
None of the above can run again!


 +   2 people like this
Posted by cardinal, a resident of Diablo,
on Nov 6, 2015 at 11:16 am

Yes! Nobody for President! Nobody's qualified!

In fact, Nobody does it better! There's Nobody I'm supporting!.


 +   7 people like this
Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of Alamo,
on Nov 6, 2015 at 12:12 pm

Hmmm. Yes, and Nobody applied to West Point, either, right?


 +   8 people like this
Posted by Peter Kluget, a resident of Danville,
on Nov 6, 2015 at 12:15 pm

Hotslide, I'll ignore most of your rant, but address your apologia for Carson's "stumbling" in response to a question about his own "tax plan." The problem wasn't a "jerk moderator" but the fact that Carson's "plan" is wildly divorced from anything resembling reality, and he seems to be either oblivious to that fact or simply not to care.

For the past 40 years the federal government's expenditures have consistently been about 20% of GDP. A couple points lower at the end of the Clinton years, a couple points higher in Reagan and Obama's terms. But never far from 20%. For the last ***40 years.***

Taxable income is only a portion of the GDP. So taxing income - even all income, no limits, no deductions of any sort - at 10% to 15% would leave a huge hole in the budget. That's simple. (FICA taxes are about 15% of gross income up to $118,000 per year - a flat tax, no deductions. 90% of Americans earn less than the FICA limit. FICA tax brings in about 4% of GDP.)

Since Carson has offered a tax "plan" in support of his Presidential aspirations which calls for a flat tax at 10% to 15%, he really should be ready with some answer to the question: "How the dickens is your plan supposed to, you know, work?" You don't need "good tax people" to think really, really hard to tell you it won't. You need simple arithmetic.

He didn't have that answer. And you call him a "thinker."


 +   4 people like this
Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Nov 6, 2015 at 12:26 pm

I believe that it's too early for any candidate to have a completely formed platform. Come March/April 2016, I'll certainly know who I plan to vote for! Until then, the polls and what folks are saying to position themselves doesn't matter very much...not to this one.

I'm truly enjoying watching the back biting republicans put on a screaming mimi show!!!

GO FOR IT REPUBS...tee hee


 +   1 person likes this
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