Also, Gore refused to fight: Now that the conventions are over, we're on the march toward the Trump-Biden debates.
Yesterday, the New York Times ran ten letters suggesting ways to improve this year's debate. The letters were offered in response to Michelle Cottle's essay, How to Improve the Debates, which ran in print editions on Tuesday, August 18.
Cottle in a member of the Times editorial board. In print editions, her essay ran in the place where editorials would normally appear. After reading yesterday's letters, we went back and read Cottle's essay, which we had widely skipped when it first appeared.
At this point, we'll admit it! We were drawn to the letters because of the way one letter-writer repeated one of our tribe's most treasured inaccurate claims. This is the latter in question:
To the Editor:The letter came from a member of the Rockland County (N.Y.) Legislature. Another letter made reference to the same alleged event.
Standing on a debate stage in 2016, Hillary Clinton was answering a question posed by the moderator and suddenly realized that her opponent, Donald Trump, was prowling somewhere behind and near her. Why was the moderator missing in action when that intentional stalking by Mr. Trump to throw his opponent off stride was taking place?
In 2020 we can expect many diversions from Mr. Trump. There are some useful recommendations from the Annenberg Public Policy Center in Michelle Cottle’s piece. But while Annenberg recommends “cutting moderators out of the action as much as possible,” I believe that training for moderators in how to handle infractions should be required. We know what’s coming!
Candidate Trump stalked Candidate Clinton! It has become one of our most treasured tribal beliefs. Clinton advanced this fairy tale herself in her book about Campaign 2020.
This stalking incident is alleged to have happened during the second Trump-Clinton debate, the one with the town hall format. Our tribe is in love with this stalking claim—but no, it didn't actually happen, even though you've seen the damning photos.
You can see what actually happened starting around minute 24:45 in this videotape of the full debate. What actually happened is this:
On two successive questions, Clinton walked over in front of Trump's lectern. She did this in order to respond to questioners who were seated in that part of the room.
Trump was standing at his lectern, exactly as he should have been while Clinton spoke. But Clinton was now directly in front of his lectern. This created the camera angles which we the liberals, and Clinton herself, have now turned into a stalking incident.
We people hate to abandon pleasing beliefs even when the pleasing beliefs in question are false. Nothing will ever kill the pleasing claim, which plays into fundamental tribal verities of our majorly self-impressed tribe.
Still, if you want to see what actually happened, you can click to that videotape and watch the sequence of events as Clinton answers those two questions. Candidate Clinton did absolutely nothing wrong—but just to be honest for once, neither did Candidate Trump, though he behaved abysmally at other points that night. (For example, see his snarling, repetitive interruptions from minutes 22-25.)
Back to the crying need to pretend that the New York Times is looking for ways to "improve the debates:"
After being struck by the very few real suggestions offered in yesterday's ten (10) letters, we decided to read Cottle's original essay. Doing so brought a question to mind:
Has Michelle Cottle ever watched an actual general election debate? We'll tell you why we're asking that question in the next day or two. First, the meta-story:
Down through the years, we've often asked if members of our upper-end press corps could possibly be human. The strangeness of that Cottle essay raises the possibility, at least in our mind, that she isn't from Mississippi at all, but perhaps from Neptune or Mars.
Cottle's essay about the debates makes almost zero sense. And yet, she's a member in good standing of the Times editorial board, and the Times decided to run her puzzling essay in place of editorials.
There are obvious lessons to be learned from such a puzzling state of affairs. In a similar vein, we were struck by an array of comments from Times readers yesterday about the way the "pusillanimous" Candidate Gore "rolled over" and refused to "fight it out" in the aftermath of Election 2000.
(Gore's concession was finally delivered on Wednesday, December 13.)
Yesterday's puzzling comments came in response to one somewhat odd quoted remark in a thoroughly sensible essay about what could happen in the aftermath of this November's election.
The essay in question (Could It Be Bush v. Gore All Over Again?) was written by Linda Greenhouse. Her warnings about what could conceivably happen this fall are very much worth considering.
One quoted remark in the Greenhouse essay is slightly odd. The comments from an array of readers are basically stone-cold crazy. Regarding the commenters and their strange comments, there is again a lesson to be learned:
These are the scattered, puzzling troops with which our tribe marches to war.
As a group, we liberals have long been majorly self-impressed. We're convinced that we're the very smart ones, and that our newspaper is tops.
Anthropologists say it isn't our fault, but they say it's hard for us humans to see certain types of truths.
Over the course of the next few days, we'll show you the comments about the way Candidate Gore refused to fight. Also, we'll examine suggestions that Cottle may be phoning it in from Mars.
Has Cottle ever watched an actual general election debate? If she has, you'd never know it from the comments and criticisms she made in her essay.
She sits on the Times editorial board. But has she ever actually watched a general election debate?