September 30, 2004
Get Your Debate On
(from the New Yorker’s “Rules of Engagement”)
Paragraph Seventeen A: Bodily fluids-Perspiration.
Debate sponsors shall make every effort to maintain comfortable temperature onstage. Candidates shall make reasonable use of underarm deodorant and other antiperspirant measures, subject to review by Secret Service, before the debates. In the event that perspiration is unavoidable, candidates may deploy one plain white cotton handkerchief measuring eight inches square. Handkerchief may not be used to suggest that opponent wants to surrender in global war on terrorism.
(from NPR’s “Top 10 Secrets They Don’t Want You to Know About the Debates”)
(5.) All members of the studio audience must be certified as “soft” supporters of Bush and Kerry, under selection procedures they approve.
“It’s not enough to rig the debate — they have to rig the audience, too? The contract reads: ‘The debate will take place before a live audience of between 100 and 150 persons who… describe themselves as likely voters who are soft Bush supporters or soft Kerry supporters.’ We should crash this charade and jump up in the middle to declare ourselves hard opponents of this Kabuki dance.”
(4.) These “soft” audience members must “observe in silence.”
“Soft and silent… In what I’m calling the Silence of the Lambs Clause of this absurd contract, the audience may not move, speak, gesture, cough or otherwise show that they are alive and thinking.”
(from Slate’s article, “Daydreaming about Dean”)
A Dean general-election campaign would have contrasted Dean’s record with Bush’s in three ways: Dean being against the war versus Bush being for it; Dean’s record of balancing the Vermont budget while providing health care versus Bush’s largest deficits in history with no health care; and a new wrinkle that was only hinted at during the primaries, Dean’s mysterious, infrequently mentioned “tax reform” vs. Bush’s irresponsible tax cuts. Yes, Dean would have repealed the entire Bush tax cut, the senior adviser said, but he would have proposed replacing it with some Dean tax cuts, including the elimination of payroll taxes on the first $20,000 of income. The message: Bush cuts taxes from the top down, but Dean cuts them from the bottom up. Why didn’t Dean introduce this during the primaries, when his tax-hiking ways made some Democrats think he would be an electoral disaster, the second coming of Walter Mondale, in the fall? He wanted to wait until after the Feb. 3 primaries because “he didn’t want people to think he was pandering,” the adviser said.
And by the way, I bet you thought your opinion of tonight’s debate mattered:
- “We might be headed for another close election, which means your vote could really matter this time, right? Wrong. Your vote didn’t matter in 2000, it never mattered before 2000, and it’s very unlikely to start mattering now.” — today’s Slate
- “Suppose you’re one of the proverbial voters who ”vote their pocketbooks.” Let’s say that the benefit to you personally if candidate A beats candidate B would be a million dollars (that might be because of tax cuts, not having your job outsourced, etc.). If you multiply this benefit by the probability that you could affect the election (.00000001) you end up with . . . one lousy cent. That is what economists call the expected utility of your vote. But wait — voting also has costs, both in time (getting to the polling place, waiting in line) and money (I had to use two 37-cent stamps last week to send the last four digits of my Social Security number to the local Board of Elections). To be conservative, let’s put the cost of voting at $10. The expected payoff is a penny. This is one lottery ticket you don’t want to buy.” — from the NYT