Thursday, December 19, 2013
I have seen a number of debates in my short lifetime. I remember—starting with the Nixon-Kennedy debates—the presidential debates; and I remember watching many debates on Firing Line on television.
It’s tough being the incumbent in a political debate for two reasons. First, no matter how well you have done, your opponent can always claim you should have done more and avoided mistakes, many of which became clear only through hindsight. Other mistakes are simply part and parcel of having to constantly make judgment calls. Criticism is cheap, and shallow thinkers are often taken in by it.
A second reason debates are tough on political incumbents, notably so at the presidential level, is that there are secrets a responsible executive cannot reveal lest he jeopardize the very care for his constituency he has sworn to uphold. This is a fact of life. Nuclear war during the Cuban missile crisis was avoided in large part through “back channel” agreements. Rapprochement with China was achieved by Nixon-Kissinger only through, at first, secret negotiations. Yes, that’s right—transparency is a good thing in general; it’s not a good thing in this world we live in in some instances. We need to understand this.
I do not know if Dave Israel and Esther Sutofsky will debate, but I can understand why she is urging, goading, trying to shame him (almost begging him, it seems!) into debating. The challenger can say virtually anything, make baseless accusations, and appeal to those who are negative and critical of everything. I believe Esther is doing this already, which is too bad, because often a challenger DOES have something to say. But how separate the chaff from the wheat when there is SO MUCH chaff and vile name-calling, etc.? It's the overload of this that makes me give Dave's opposition little credence.
That’s how I see it, to which I would add only one thing, though a non sequitur: Apparently Esther is going to have knee replacement surgery. I have had that (both knees), and I wish her the very best going through the surgery and rehab.