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.
Voters benefit from candidates vetting issues in real time
Debates out our ears.
RONN MOTT: Again
The specter that Dan Brown wrote about in “The Da Vinci Code” has again become a topic among religious scholars and the popular curiosity of the American people.
Readers’ Forum: April 24, 2014
• Keep comments to the political
- EDITORIAL: Noteworthy in the News
- Readers’ Forum: April 23, 2014
RONN MOTT: Shave
I recently saw a television pitch man explain the virtues of the single blade in what appeared to be an old-fashioned safety razor. He was explaining we didn’t need three blades in a razor, or five, or six, and how many more are we going to get with the razor to get that perfect shave? He urged us to use only one.
Readers’ Forum: April 22, 2014
Volunteer to help a child
Very successful WDC Style Show
EDITORIAL: Exploring the road to better health
The Indiana 8th Congressional District exemplifies the importance of the Hoosier Health Care Tour conducted by two doctors who also serve as lawmakers — one on the state level, the other in Washington, D.C.
Readers’ Forum: April 21, 2014
Navigating our freedom, rightsa rocky ride
We need to think about farming
MARK BENNETT: Living the dream
Earth Day receives its share of under-your-breath criticism.
EDITORIAL: Pondering the jail problem
Our compliments to Vigo County Councilman Mark D. Bird for taking the time and investing the thought and energy into writing his detailed letter to the editor on the topic of the county’s jail, published in this newspaper on April 13.
FLASHPOINT: Newspapers and baseball: Two great institutions are evolving
There are few aspects of American life that are the same today as they were 100 years ago. Two of them are newspapers and baseball.
Readers’ Forum: April 20, 2014
Testing still best way to measure
Addressing issues of inequality
Perfect blend of attributes
An outstanding choice for judge
No excuses for Benghazi tragedy
RONN MOTT: Spring activities settle into northside park
Some say young love blossoms like the flowers in the spring. It must be spring, because we witnessed the first wedding ceremony performed in the Collett Park gazebo on a recent Saturday.
EDITORIAL: Get smart with 911
Worst-case scenarios when emergency service are needed are not things people like to think about. But focused attention on details in advance could make a life-changing, even life-saving, difference in the future.
FLASHPOINT: Heading in the wrong direction
A study released last week by the Tax Foundation reported Indiana taxpayers saw one of the sharpest increases in tax burden since 2001. Dig deeper and the numbers are more alarming.
RONN MOTT: They didn’t make it!
The “One and Dones” done went and didn’t! (I know this is grammatically incorrect, but I want those folks down in Kentucky to read it.)
EDITORIAL: Dealing with eroded trust
Our neighbors in Putnam County are understandably concerned, even outraged, over problems in their sheriff’s department. People have a right to expect their chief law-enforcement agency — one of the most important public institutions in any community — to operate professionally and effectively.
Readers’ Forum: April 17, 2014
• A blessing from our young folks
• Confidence in judge candidate
EDITORIAL: Preparing for voting changes
The primary election, during which Hoosiers will traipse to their polling places to select party candidates to fill the ballot for the general election, is now three weeks away.
Readers’ forum: April 16, 2014
• Mott’s rant on global warming
• Salvation through the Indian way
RONN MOTT: Royce Waltman
In recent days the papers have been full of good things about Royce Waltman. Not a lot of puffery, but more like Royce himself… straight, true and right at you.
LIZ CIANCONE: Not much peace since war to end all wars
My jaw dropped the other day when I read that this year, 2014, marks 100 years since the start of World War I. No, you wise guys, I wasn’t there personally.
Readers’ Forum: April 15, 2014
Sound choice for county judge
Giving your car the care it needs
Park restrooms should be open
EDITORIAL: Noteworthy in the news (Honors for outstanding women)
Honors for outstanding women
Sprucing up around the wetlands
You can say that again
Reader Poll results
Readers’ Forum: April 14, 2014
Alternatives to ‘injustice’
EDITORIAL: Teaming up to fight the ugliness of graffiti
Graffiti hurts the Terre Haute community. It deflates property values and local pride. It literally paints an image of carelessness on the city.
MARK BENNETT: It’s (Not) So Easy
Arctic air bled into the Wabash Avenue post-hippie-era diner-pub every time the wooden door swung open.
ERIC SCHANSBERG: The 1040 tax form turns 100
The 16th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution brought us the federal income tax in 1913. A year later, the 1040 tax form was born.
Readers’ Forum: April 13, 2014
• An attack of hypocrisy
• New jail not a good idea
• Thinking about the next election
• Being positive a tremendous asset
• Work status a matter of value
FLASHPOINT: Time to fix government
In 1965, the chairman of the powerful Ways and Means Committee, Wilbur Mills, brought legislation establishing Medicare and Medicaid to the floor of the U.S. House. That was my first year in Congress, and I remember vividly the moment when Mills came to the Democratic caucus to explain his plans.
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- RONN MOTT: Again