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Saturday, October 4, 2008

Democracy or Dictatorship?

Here is the New York Times link of the transcript and the video of the Vice Presidential Debate

If you missed it, I think it would be well worth your while to watch it.

There was so much that could be said about the debate. But here are my personal top 10 things I wish I did not hear Governor Sarah Palin say or do in the Vice Presidential Debate:

10.Winking.

In my humble opinion, I prefer more professionalism and less populism. Being a Vice President is after all, a very serious job, isn’t it?

9. Folksy comments – ALL of THEM.

"Joe Sixpack” “Darn right”, “Say it ain’t so Joe” etc. As much as I know Jamaican vernacular, I also know when and where it is appropriate. That was a VP debate, not family dinner or a reality show. Respectfully, the world is watching and the bar is much higher for the world stage of politics where the stakes are very high

8. “I” , “When I was mayor”, “As Governor of Alaska” “There is not. And how long have I been at this, like five weeks? So there hasn't been a whole lot that I've promised" (in reference to the question of whether or not there is anything that would come off the table given the financial crisis)

Will the REAL Presidential Republican candidate please stand up! Is Sarah Palin running for President? Because she sure acts like she is. And that would be fine – IF and ONLY IF, she went through the primary process. But she didn’t. So there has been no rigorous evaluation of a person who can be President in a “blink” – something that has happened 9 times before in history. To add insult to injury, she is "annoyed" by the media and its attempt to provide the electorate with some kind of information to make some evaluation. Instead, she wants to speak “without the filter”

7. Comments that had nothing to do with the questions

Too many to name here. Asking Gwen if she could talk about Afghanistan in the middle of the question on nuclear weapons was the most eye–opening of them all.

6. Outright lies and misstatements

Too many to name here - that would be a separate post (Will post all the article as I find them). But watch the debate, I haven't heard people say Senator Biden's corrections were wrong.

5. The entire answer to the question on climate change

Please read the transcript. But here’s the most important part:

"But there are real changes going on in our climate. And I don't want to argue about the causes. What I want to argue about is, how are we going to get there to positively affect the impacts?"


Here's my question: how does one fix a problem that one does not know the causes of? This is bigger than just her position on climate change, as much as I have my own views on it as a trained applied scientist with two degrees in environmental systems. The bigger issue goes to the heart of how she makes ANY decisions which does not appear to be based on facts and analysis.

4. The entire closing statement with the “fight” references

299 words in the closing statement. 5 times the word "fight" was mentioned and it was the action verb for the majority of the paragraphs, so it was the word of prominence. It was a closing statement of "fight". Her parting thought? “We will fight for it, and there is only one man in this race who has really ever fought for you, and that's Sen. John McCain.” Wow - "fight" and "fought" in the same sentence! Anybody willing to try to convince me that this ticket is not keen to go to war especially since Senator McCain himself has called for a freeze on spending for everything except Defense? (check the last debate) You mean to tell me there is no other way to govern other than "fight"?

3. The entire answer to what a VP does and her interpretation of VP power

Part of her answer: "Well, our founding fathers were very wise there in allowing through the Constitution much flexibility there in the office of the vice president. And we will do what is best for the American people in tapping into that position and ushering in an agenda that is supportive and cooperative with the president's agenda in that position. Yeah, so I do agree with him that we have a lot of flexibility in there, and we'll do what we have to do to administer very appropriately the plans that are needed for this nation.”

Another part of her answer: “Of course, we know what a vice president does. And that's not only to preside over the Senate and will take that position very seriously also. I'm thankful the Constitution would allow a bit more authority given to the vice president if that vice president so chose to exert it in working with the Senate and making sure that we are supportive of the president's policies and making sure too that our president understands what our strengths are.”

From the Constitution: Article I Section 3:
The Vice President of the United States shall be President of the Senate, but shall have no Vote, unless they be equally divided.


I’m no constitutional expert, but I really did not see any other power anywhere else. I definitely did not see the word “flexibility”. Where is this “authority given to the vice president if that vice president so chose to exert it”? Members of Congress are elected by the people, and it appears Governor Palin would be quite happy to ignore the will of the people that is reflected through all - as in more than one - representatives and force the agenda of one person who was elected, or worse - her agenda when she herself did not go through any a primary voting process - or any other voting process related to the Presidential election but rather was attached to the ticket.

2.The entire answer to what would you do differently if you were President

I am not comforted by an answer that BEGINS with all the things that she and her running mate differ on. Why is this a problem? Because no one knows who she really is, and she is resistant to media scrutiny. VPs support the President. A more comforting way to answer this question would have been to start with support of the person at the top of the ticket.

1. The word “evil”

What is “evil”? And why must a government official at the level of Governor and VP candidate describe anything at all in terms of “evil”. The President himself tried that approach, remember? And unless I've missed something, look where America and the world is now.

So, taken together.....

Taken together, does one see democracy? Or does one see a dictatorial posture filled with dictatorial positions?

Now, don’t get me wrong – if the US wants dictatorship, then that is its choice. BUT

1) Let’s not pretend that the constitution allows dictatorship because it does not. VP power is very clear in the constitution and it is very limited.

2) Let’s not pretend that resistance to media scrutiny, the avoidance of truth and the avoidance of questioning is not dictatorship because it is. People question other people in a democracy

3) Let’s not pretend some charm, cute folksy comments and a few winks can conceal the content of extreme positions rooted in a belief that there is some “evil” for Government to overcome with a confrontational position of fighting. Attempts to conceal the reality are more than offensive, they are dangerous.

4) Let’s not pretend “I” “I” “I” is not dictatorship, because it is the ultimate dictatorship

5) Let’s not pretend that unwillingness to examine the root causes of the problems is not dictatorship, because it is even worse – there will be no meaningful solutions

However, let's see The Preamble to the Constitution :

"We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America. "

Personally, I'm putting my faith in the "liberty" part because it sounds like democracy to me. The last time I checked, the US said it still believed in democracy, and come election day - the people will have ample opportunity to comfort us all that they do.

2 comments:

Joan said...

That's my top 10 too. All I can say is I hope everyone knows by now how much the change hinges on their vote.

nandi_pandi said...

She answered whatever she wanted to answer under the guise that she is "speaking to the American people". I don't want a president or VP that I can chill with. I want someone who I believe is smarter than me and well equipped to handle the serious responsibilities of those jobs. This woman continues to erk me. And now that they are claiming that Obama has terrorist ties is so misleading and dangerous. Sarah Palin (and the super conservative Republican base that she has energized) tries to stand on a moral high ground with her fundamental christian beliefs and yet has made the most immoral statements and assertions. I wonder if she truly believes these ridiculous and dangerous statements she is making or whether she is making them knowing that they are totally misleading. Scary part is I don't know which one is worse.

 
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