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October 21, 2012

EDITORIAL: Unfolding debate season has been one of great worth

Voters benefit from candidates vetting issues in real time

Debates out our ears.

Presidential, gubernatorial, senatorial, vice presidential — we’ve seen all of those in recent days as campaigns and voters count down to the Nov. 6 election day.

Republican Mitt Romney soundly outpointed President Obama in their first debate and made the incumbent look unprepared and defensive. In the second presidential debate, Obama fired back from the get-go in what almost became a boxing match between the two contenders. (Conservative commentator George Will, not given to flights of fancy, termed that debate as “immeasurably the best” presidential debate in U.S. history — and he’s seen them all over the last 52 years.) The third and final Obama-Romney debate takes place at 9 p.m. Monday from Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla.

In the only vice presidential debate, Democrat Joe Biden either smiled too much and too mockingly or just the right amount and quite sincerely, depending on your point of view — or bias. Did Republican Paul Ryan score points or was he made to look inexperienced?

The two Indiana gubernatorial debates so far have been ones of contrast: the homey humor and poison darts of Democrat John Gregg, the buttoned-down efficiency and modulated comebacks of Republican Mike Pence (the front-runner in the polls), the outsider-with-ideas approach and comic relief of Libertarian Rupert Boneham. The three will debate their final time at 7 p.m. Thursday from a Fort Wayne television studio.

In the first Indiana senatorial debate, Republican Richard Mourdock and Democrat Joe Donnelly pummeled each other, and Libertarian Andrew Horning held himself out as an alternative to both. We’ll see what plays out when the three debate again at 7 p.m. Tuesday in New Albany.

Political debates are sometimes thought to be yawners — boring and filled with answers translatable only by policy wonks.

But these debates have been different, and so has this election been different. It is an election arising from a context of years of economic and employment woes; from perhaps unparalleled political upheaval and warring between parties; from the real-time nature of social media and their effects on messages; from the everyday threats of terrorism; and from widening global tensions in and among such places as Iran, Afghanistan, Syria, Pakistan, North Korea, Israel and Mexico.

From our vantage point, this year’s debates have had great value — the most in recent years — even when one discounts the preening, the canned one-liners and the clever comebackers.

The great thing about debates — no matter what analysts or pundits or editorial writers say — is that voters ultimately decide whom they believe more, which may not be the same as who “won” a debate.

Debates give voters a chance to see candidates in real time, pitted personally against their political rivals, thinking on their feet. Yes, candidates are rehearsed and have their standard, practiced, even shopworn lines. But sometimes — as in Wednesday’s presidential debate — the rigors of fleeting seconds and the insistence of the opponent and moderator force the candidate to flourish or fold. That’s good for would-be voters to see and by which to judge those who ask to lead them.

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Opinion
  • EDITORIAL: Legal marriages should be honored

    An eager and probably nervous couple stands before a minister or a judge or a county clerk and exchanges vows, accepting the legal, moral and ethical obligations of a marriage.

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  • wefight.jpg Feeling carried: Filmmaker captures late uncle’s walk through illness and into ‘whatever is next’

    Paul Fleschner sensed a remarkable strength as he filmed his beloved uncle one final time.

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    July 12, 2014

  • RONN MOTT: Troubled history in that place called Iraq

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    July 11, 2014

  • Editorial: The Bennett ‘settlement’

    It takes a special kind of arrogance to flout ethics laws in the manner which former state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett has violated them. Even when he finally admitted his transgressions, he claimed he could have avoided the matter altogether had he just changed the department’s ethics policy before engaging in the troublesome conduct.
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    July 10, 2014

  • Readers’ Forum: July 11, 2014

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  • Ronn Mott.jpg RONN MOTT: That Old Man River

    I was surprised to learn the people in Cairo are now taking water taxis to avoid the traffic, the confusion and the dangers that are appearing on Cairo, Egypt’s, streets. I mean, I was surprised the people in Cairo, these native Egyptians, were surprised they could take a water taxi and get to where they wanted to go using the Nile River as a highway. So, for the Egyptians living in Cairo, everything old is brand new again.

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    It sounds like a blue-ribbon idea.

    July 9, 2014

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    • Herb Faire a great success

    • Appreciation for a ‘lovely angel’

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    July 9, 2014

  • tstribunestar EDITORIAL: Be safe, be responsible

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    July 8, 2014 1 Photo

  • Readers’ Forum: July 9, 2014

    • Don’t eliminate our six-day mail

    • Zamperini death stirs memories

    July 8, 2014

  • RONN MOTT: Black Dog

    We had some excitement around our house the other day and it was not the good kind.
    There was a small dog, black in color with a spiked collar on his neck, and he was the spitting image of a small Doberman. I don’t know if they have miniature Dobermans but this dog could have been a mixed breed that came out looking like a Doberman although smaller.

    July 8, 2014

  • Readers’ Forum: July 8, 2014

    • T-S ignores common decency

    • Lighten up on Donald Sterling

    • Time to reject Dems in Congress

    Fueling the EPA

    July 7, 2014

  • MS. TAKES: Great music is made during all generations

    Number Two son tells us that his 20-year-old son has been listening to “Big Band” music with apparent enjoyment. As if that wasn’t enough of a surprise, I was talking with a young girl, barely out of her teens and she told us that she really wasn’t into rap. She said, “It isn’t really music, it’s just talk.”

    July 7, 2014

  • Readers’ Forum: July 7, 2014

    • The moral issue is major issue

    July 6, 2014

  • tstribunestar Editorial: City financial health demands an open, honest discussion

    Obscured by the recent rift over use of departmental funds in the city of Terre Haute’s budget are serious issues related to our city government’s overall financial health. The answers may be mired in the complexity of municipal finance, but coming to grips with the situation is important to the city’s future.

    July 6, 2014 1 Photo

  • Readers’ Forum: July 6, 2014

    • Coats ignoring climate science

    • Do those mustache posters exist?

    • Utility rate freeze took determination

    • What perversion is next in line?

    • Opinions vary, but voters will decide

    • This preaching must stop — now

    • Golf fundraiser a huge success

    July 6, 2014

  • Flashpoint: State’s lawyer has duty to represent state in marriage lawsuit appeal

    Recent federal court actions that first struck down Indiana’s statute limiting marriage to the traditional definition, and then stayed that order pending appeal, have left many in our state in legal limbo. As the attorney who represents state government and defends its laws, I know this difficult case stirs many people’s deeply held beliefs that touch their lives in very personal ways. Not since my office had to represent the state in lawsuits arising from the State Fair disaster has a dispute been so seemingly impossible to address in a way that the public would accept as being fair to all concerned.

    July 6, 2014

  • Flashpoint: The Supreme Court decision and ‘closely held’ corporations

    The much awaited Supreme Court decision in Burwell vs. Hobby Lobby came down this week. The court ruled in a 5-4 decision that the 1993 Religious Freedom and Restoration Act (RFRA) does cover “closely held” corporations, even if those corporations are for profit.

    July 6, 2014

  • RONN MOTT: Learning more about Jefferson

    During this Fourth of July weekend, I’ll be reading John Meacham’s biography of Thomas Jefferson.

    July 4, 2014

  • EDITORIAL: Celebrate your independence

    “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
    As eloquent and declaratory as that statement is, implementing its principles has been a decades-long pursuit for these United States of America. Our nation, it seems, is the quintessential work in progress, even though what this country has created in terms of a stable, collective society is, let’s face it, pretty darn good.

    July 3, 2014

  • Readers’ Forum: July 4, 2014

    July 3, 2014

  • Ronn Mott.jpg RONN MOTT: The Men Who Made the Country

    The Fourth of July is the day we celebrate our independence from Great Britain. It reminds me of something David Ben-Gurion would say, at a much later date, about British rule: “If you have to have a master, the British are about as good at it as anybody.” Of course, we really don’t need a master.

    July 3, 2014 1 Photo

  • MET 033114 GREG ZOELLER MUG.jpg GREG ZOELLER: State’s lawyer has duty to represent state in marriage lawsuit appeal

    Recent federal court actions that first struck down Indiana’s statute limiting marriage to the traditional definition, and then stayed that order pending appeal, have left many in our state in legal limbo.

    July 3, 2014 1 Photo

  • Readers’ Forum: July 3, 2014

    • Over the top on immigration

    July 2, 2014

  • FLASHPOINT: HIP 2.0 gives consumers better choices

    On Wednesday, the State of Indiana submitted its proposal for the Healthy Indiana Plan 2.0 to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

    July 2, 2014

  • Gov. Mike Pence (R, Ind.) MIKE PENCE: HIP 2.0 gives consumers better choices

    Today, the state of Indiana submitted its proposal for the Healthy Indiana Plan 2.0 to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
    If approved, the Healthy Indiana Plan 2.0 would replace traditional Medicaid for low-income, able-bodied Hoosier adults. Unlike traditional Medicaid, which is government-driven, HIP 2.0 is consumer-driven.

    July 2, 2014 1 Photo

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