Bob Franken

The Not So Great Debate

December 13, 2007
The Not So Great Debate (Bob Franken)
@ 11:17 am

Every once in a while Fred Thompson makes a campaign move I really like. Considering the fact that it’s only every once in a while Thompson makes a campaign move at all, I suppose that’s pretty good.

Wednesday was one of those days. In a role reversal, he was the one who woke up yesterday’s snoozer of a Republican debate. That moment came when he refused to engage in that ridiculously juvenile hand-raising exercise. This one went something like “All who believe global warming is a bad thing, raise your hands.”

Thompson refused to raise his hand. Way to go, Fred!!! Not that he’s in favor of global warming. He’s not. I think not, anyway. But he realized how stupid it must seem for candidates to be president of the United States to appear that they’re seeking permission to go to the bathroom. I looked very closely to see which of the others were talking about number one or number two. Given the content of the debate, I probably already know.

Really: How dumb is that hand-raising gimmick? Way dumb. It’s been silly every time it’s been employed and it was great fun to watch how Thompson repudiated it.

It wasn’t even the best question to ask. It would have been much better, after Mike Huckabee talked about teaching music and the arts, had the moderator interjected, “All those who think music and the arts are nice raise your hands.” With this group, probably less than half would have. Tom Tancredo might have gone along, as long as they weren’t created by illegal immigrants. Mitt Romney would have explained that he did favor music and the arts at one time but that now he was against both. John McCain would have supported them, as long as they weren’t subsidized. Alan Keyes would have called them examples of godless immorality, and
Thompson would have gone back to sleep.

This was not what you would call your whiz-bang debate, even if you do use language like “whiz-bang.” Today, the sponsors get another chance, with the Democrats.

I’d advise against doing the hand-raising stunt here. Unless the hosts want to see a bunch of extended middle fingers. These Democrats are quite the unruly bunch these days. Who would have thought we’d see Hillary Clinton in such deep doo doo? Who would have thought that the thick wall of advisers that shields the real Hillary would ever allow for missteps, since they never allowed the real her to step out without a script? Today we’ll see what she does to end her free-fall before Bill steps in and replaces her staff.

Will she throw caution to the wind? You gotta be kidding. But whatever happens, it’s going to be a big improvement over the performance by all those grumpy men on the other side. To put it in Republican terms, we need to have faith in that.

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