What if the rhetoric were not so mind-numbingly repetitive, let alone xenophobic and non-sensical? (A review of the 2nd presidential debate)

If I hear phrases such as ‘pork barrel,’ ‘ear-mark,’ ‘I have spent my whole life serving this country,’ or ‘reach across the aisle’ one more time, my progressive bleeding heart may explode. Also, do either of the candidates have the ability to offer a succinct answer? Even towards the end when Brokaw clearly directed “This question requires only a yes or no answer,” both candidates answered with MANY words (albeit McCain kept in character as the more long-winded).

In addition to the repetition, a number of non-sensical answers (and certainly non-succinct) answers wafted through the falling asleep audience (was the man in the front with the white shirt and tie really asleep?)

And, do candidates realize that saying things like “Americans are the best workers in the world” or “America is the best country in the world” is excessively xenophobic? How might that sound to a Canadian viewer, a Chinese viewer, an African viewer? Sure, people in those Other, non-bestest countries don’t get to vote in our elections, but how about some global sensitivity ? The nationalistic hubris is annoying, not to mention immature. You can praise Americans without having to use superlatives, you know.

As for my favorite “What the heck does that mean?!?” moment, well nothing from tonight’s debate topped McCain’s 1st debate claim that Iran is an “existential threat.” Hmmm, did McCain mean that Iran needs to be aware of its own existence and freedom? Or, was he suggesting the existence of Iran precedes its essence, i.e. that Iran is constituted in and through its existence rather than through a pre-determined essence? Or did he perhaps mean that the “who” of Iran poses a ‘threat’ to the “what” of US freedom? Was he drawing on Sartre here, or perhaps Heidegger? My guess is he doesn’t know what the heck existentialism is, nor what existential means, and that he meant to say something like “Iran is an existing threat.” (I would also wager he may be fuzzy on the term “xenophobia.”)

As for his performance tonight, maybe it was just me, but the point where McCain walked over to personally thank the military man that asked a question and patted him on the back and then called him “my friend” in his answer, well, that was particularly cringe-worthy (and robotic).

And McCain’s comment that “We can never allow a 2nd holocaust to take place,” well, yeah, but it seemed to come somewhat out of mid-air. What was he doing, playing strange mind association games between words like Iran, threat, holocaust?

To conclude this debate round up, I want to share some questions/comments from a debate commentator far more fair and balanced than any of the FOXies or CNNers, my 9 year old daughter. As she sat by me on the couch, she asked “When does McKinney ever get to make a speech?”

When I told her she’s not allowed to be part of the mainstream debates, she responded, “Why, because she’s a girl?” Well, not exactly, but how telling that a 9 year old recognizes the extreme unfairness of not giving a viable candidate a chance to be part of the debate…

As for my daughter’s debate round up, she said “I think Obama is way better at doing speeches than McCain.” Yes, I agree. “Plus,” she added, “he believes in birth control and he’s not as pro-war as McCain.” So, if a 9 year old can figure out two key problems with the McSame/Pain ticket, I sure hope all those so-called undecided’s decide to either vote for Obama, McKinney, or Nader.

Advertisements

11 thoughts on “What if the rhetoric were not so mind-numbingly repetitive, let alone xenophobic and non-sensical? (A review of the 2nd presidential debate)”

  1. “And, do candidates realize that saying things like “Americans are the best workers in the world” or “America is the best country in the world” is excessively xenophobic? How might that sound to a Canadian viewer, a Chinese viewer, an African viewer?”

    It sounds pretty full of one’s self to me. How can someone even be allowed to make such a claim that can’t be supported by evidence as far as I can see. It is just so out there to say your country’s workforce is the best of 100 and some countries. Is it actually a good thing to have a workforce so hard working people don’t take all their vacation time? Family time is good. I’ve heard the American workforce is one of the hardest working as far as hours. Still, does Palin realize how hard some people work for $1 a day? That comment just really stuck out for me.

    And every time I hear excessive praise for the military or reference to time serving as if that’ll help someone be a better politician I have to cringe. And hope that Canadian politics aren’t becoming like that despite our increasing military budget. I certainly see military people as brave, they’re doing something I could never imagine doing and risking going to dangerous places, but aside from that I don’t have any great admiration for their intentions and actions.

  2. thanks for the wrap-up, I pretty much agree wholeheartedly. My favorite “What the heck does that mean?!?” moment: “That one!” Sooooo revealing. And a good set-up for McCain’s post-debate refusal to shake Obama’s hand.

  3. Well said. It is beyond annoying to hear the “we’re the best-est, most special-ist country in the world! Squee! Yay us!” all the time, so I wish they would shut it. But what’s scary is how many people simply want to hear that and nothing more.

    You just missed owing me a new keyboard with your riff on existentialism. That’s just perfect. But… you know you’re being elitist, right? 🙂

  4. Your 9-year-old daughter and I see eye-to-eye on a lot of things, it seems. I also agree that the escalating superlatives meant to show patriotism result in some embarrassing superlatives. What next – Americans have the shiniest teeth? Americans have the best pick-up lines? Don’t forget, the Americas stretch all the way down to Argentina – so maybe the candidates are being more inclusive than we thought.

  5. Lyndsay,
    “every time I hear excessive praise for the military or reference to time serving as if that’ll help someone be a better politician I have to cringe” — I agree absolutely! And America is perhaps the bestest at this type of cringe-worthy praising!

    Macon D,
    I missed the “That one” moment — how condescendingly racist! I didn’t miss a point where McCain referred to Obama as “boy” did I?

    HarrietsDaughter,
    Yup, I am a total professorial elitist! Yay me! Yet, I am currently feeling some existential angst over the upcoming electronic voting process — does something exist that may not be counted (or counted wrong) — or, if a tree falls in a forest with no one to hear it, has it really fallen?

    Habladora,
    Ha, ha! I think next is “Americans have the whitest buttholes” (re:anal bleaching trend)

    Screming Lemur,
    I want the shiniest teeth! This would truly make us the greatest country on earth. I wonder if Palin can ask God if he intends us to have the shiniest teeth?

  6. Professor, how very well-written and thought-provoking this post is. “You can praise Americans without having to use superlatives;” and yes, you can certainly answer those questions without so much verbosity and BS; and yes, it’s the same ol’ generic-politician’s rhetoric every time, every election.

    Wow, your nine year-old ALREADY “gets it!” Half of this country doesn’t and probably never will. And she asked this brilliant question: “When does McKinney ever get to make a speech?” Even a nine-year old sees the unfairness. We’re locked in a two-party system, and our choices are either painfully indecisive and “moderate”; or primitive-minded and conservative. Forward-thinking, progressive people in this country have little or no power or voice. It’s too bad that we tend to be the altruistic ones, not greedy or power-hungry, and therefore, we tend to lack the money (to buy media outlets) and the authority (places in govt.) to really spread our ideas across the mainstream. The internet is helping, though… 🙂

  7. Thanks Culture Press. Yeah, my daughter is one rocking feminist progressive.

    “Forward-thinking, progressive people in this country have little or no power or voice.” — too true, at least in the MSM and MSGovt. And yes, the interenet is helping, let’s hope the corrupt corporatist media/govt doesn’t overtake those parts of the internet that are independent!

  8. Maybe McCain thinks Iran is going to take the way of Camus and find that life is meaningless and thus they need to find their own meaning of life in…terrorizing America. But I doubt he knows enough to follow this line of reasoning.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s