THE STANDARDS OF DEBATE

It is late and I am tired…but I need to weigh in on one final topic before turning in. I wonder how many FB readers, captured by these recent debates have ever actually seen a real collegiate debate…and how many have actually participated in a real debate?

My father, before leaving on sabbatical to Greece for his Fulbright in ’55, had for years been the debating coach at Howard University (an historic reality wonderfully depicted by Denzel’s film, THE GREAT DEBATORS.) What Dad’s teams did was truly historic, in the era of racial integration.

As a student approaching graduation at U of Md in 66, I was informed that my PE credits from Antioch College and two years of football AND basketball in Munich would not be accepted. I needed a further PE credit and one additional credit to graduate. So…I went to summer tryouts for the University of Maryland football team. I made the team, as a slotback receiver (quick, good hands, reliable punt returner) That scholarship paid for my final semester at U of Md.

For the remaining single credit needed, I chose the course in debate. (My football prowess is another colorful story, for a later time:) But my time at football practice meant that I missed classes in my debate course. So I ended up without an established debating partner…but I was allowed to argue both first And second position at our debate finals. I won the whole damn thing. I got my credit and graduated in winter of ’67 and accepted an offer as producer/director at WBAL-TV in Baltimore,their first director of color. I have debated in college. I understand the rigors, the discipline and the standards of debate. Most of you don’t.

Facts matter. Presentation, poise and exploitation of your opponents weakness matter more, especially in These debates. It’s a game, it’s a competition people. It has its own rules. Perception trumps facts, PERIOD. Our President was presidential last nite, he owned the ground he contested. THAT is why he won last nite. And if you disagree with me, knock yourself out. Just know that you probably don’t know how this particular game is played…and that I do:)

OPPORTUNITY LOST

How did we get sucked into a dialogue that scores debates and fosters endless nattering about “He lied” and “No, your guy lied”? Both parties enable this distraction…but why are WE THE PEOPLE (at least FB people:) not debating among ourselves the substantive issues? Like what should our foreign policy be, what should our defense commitments be, what do our financial markets need to corral their excesses, how do we responsibly develop our domestic energy, how do we simplify and modernize our tax codes, what infrastructure projects best serve our national interest…and countless more relevant concerns that will determine our future success? WHY is this? We have this medium to share and exchange ideas. Why do we piss this opportunity away on carping and sniping; who set this trap and why are we so willing to fall into it? An historic context for self-governance, an historic medium that allows EVERYONE to weigh in and contribute…and we battle over sound bites and conspiracies. Should we fail and fall, it will not be due to limits to our communication. It will be due to our own selfish shortsightedness, rejecting a medium of rational intercourse; gravitating to partisan, personality politics. “We have met the enemy…and the enemy is us.”

FRIDAY EVENING IN THE VALLEY

Tonights evening sky in LA was a smoky blue/gray, thick clouds pregnant with moisture. We don’t get that much weather out here, such skies are a welcome change. Rich green pines, fierce golden sunset, heron clouds to the north. An autumnal San Fernando Valley view