Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Republicans and Democrats; Substance and Style

The now famous exchange from the South Carolina CNN Democratic Debate about Reagan, Walmart, and Slum Lords has been getting a ton of press coverage.

That exchange sort of cements an impression I've gotten from watching entirely too many Republican and Democratic debates. The Republican debates have focused on issues and solutions. What's our best approach to fixing illegal immigration? How to we win against the threat of Islamo-fascism? And the list goes on. In short, they've been debating substance.

Meanwhile, the second most common phrase at the Democrats' debates — second only to "change" — has been "I couldn't agree more". And then, instead of any serious exploration of an issue, it becomes "I have 35 years of experience" versus "I bring hope". In short, they've been debating style.

At least now, with this latest exchange — where the debate on style went from positive to negative — people might sit up and notice.

Additionally, while on this note about style, I'd just like to point out that it hasn't been Republicans that have been asking if Obama is "black enough" or stirring up a controversy by playing the race card versus the gender card. Please file this away for the next time you hear liberals slamming conservatives for "always playing the race card" or some such.

Also, related, there is this notion that Barack Obama represents this mystic change in politics towards "the middle" and "bi-partisanship". How does that notion square with comments like "I spent a lifetime fighting against Ronald Reagan's policies"? How about slamming his opponent for "[providing] much more fulsome praise of Ronald Reagan in a book by Tom Brokaw"? Attacking Ronald Reagan is now "bi-partisan" and "moderate"? Attacking a man who actually did make an appeal across party lines?!

I also don't get what's moderate about attacking an opponent on the basis that she was on the board of "the most prodigious job-creator in the history of the private sector". Attacking Wal-Mart, which not only provides Americans with jobs, but also much lower prices on everyday products is no moderate position (nor, in my opinion, is it a smart one.)

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