Why the debates are like Soviet puppet shows, Part #3832 (John Edwards, Democrats, Drexel)

An example of just how much of a public disservice the presidential "debates" have been is offered in John Edwards' answers to a couple questions from NBC News' Brian Williams at last night's Democratic debate at Drexel University in Philadelphia (link, direct link).

Williams asked this:

Senator Edwards, should there be a bottomless well of federal dollars for people who knowingly live in areas of this country that are disaster-prone to rebuild their homes if lost in a disaster?

Edwards first responds by saying the "national community" should be there for victims; in other words, he said nothing. Then, he launched into the speech part of his presentation, discussing his trips to New Orleans, federal contracts, etc. He didn't answer the question, so Williams' follow-up was this:

But does smarter mean any limits? Let's just take 20 seconds more here -- from Malibu to the Outer Banks down to Florida -- should there be unlimited federal authority...

Edwards once again doesn't answer the question, only saying that there should be limits. Obviously, everyone knows there are always going to be limits, and what we need is a grown-up discussion of where those limits are and tangible examples of what policies the candidates would push in disaster-prone areas. And, if they've already supported such policies, then the flaws in their existing policies need to be pointed out.

Are we to believe that Brian Williams is so naive that he thought Edwards was going to outright answer such a weak, non-specific question as he asked? Is he completely incompetent? Or was he basically just a set-up man, giving the candidates the intros to their speeches?

A real debate would have involved things such as hypothetical situations and would have involved Edwards' previous statements and actions in this regard. Surely, NBC has dozens of researchers available and has access to people at think tanks who spend all day thinking about these issues. Surely, they could have combined the two to come up with real questions about this issue. The only honest reason I can think of them to avoid that level of debate is time constraints, but that won't wash: time could have been made to delve into one or two topics if they actually wanted to.


Lonewacko, I not so crazy about asking about hypothetical questions. I would prefer direct questions concerning recent events and actual policy studies vs previously stated campaign positions by the candidate. In the end the goal should be to have our political debate driven more by facts, reason and the practicality then sentimentality and the expediency of political pandering. For example it is a fair question to ask whether or not it makes any sense to permit federal dollars to be spent rebuilding the 9th ward of New Orleans given that there seems to be no political will or funds to ever construct the required category 4-5 flood walls. It may in fact be an impossible engineering feat. Nor is anybody dare suggesting that we abandon or reroute the critical infastructure of shipping canals and oil and gas industry pipelines that are known to be in direct contradiction to any attempts to make New Orleans in the long run more hurricane resistant. It would be a breath of fresh air for a politician to admit the simple fact is the US is not the Netherlands. We are not as of yet an over populated country short of higher ground. Likewise a Cat 4-5 Hurricane is fastly more destructive than any recorded North Sea storm the Dutch may face. A politician from either party should be honest enough to state that for a fraction of the cost any New Orleans basin resident could be comfortably relocated on higher ground in surrounding parishes. Likewise in the South Carolina primary why are politicians refusing to be honest that we are letting the wealthy rebuild at in effect public expense ocean front properties that are destroyed almost every decade? Same applies to California fire zone properties and Iowa Mississippi flood plains. I think what you really hate are the phony focus group based political strategizing that plaques both parties. Politicians are told by their handlers that they should concern themselves more with how the prospective voter feels than what they think, since voters are percieved to be driven primarily by their irrational emotions. The idea that voters could ever be the well informed rational beings that our founding fathers hoped they could be is completely alien to the modern political consultant. It is simply disheartening to see an intelligent man like Edwards tie himselfs in knots inorder to conform to what are the political conventions of the day. It does not help that the MSM shares the same contempt for their audiences given that they see them as primarily passive beings ripe for manipulation via advertizing. I think you would appreciate the documentries "The Century of the Self" and "The Trap" by the BBC's Adam Curtis. You can download a bittorrent about anywhere.

_should there be a bottomless well of federal dollars for people who knowingly live in areas of this country that are disaster-prone to rebuild their homes if lost in a disaster?_ According to PC theology the answer is yes if the people are Black (eg. Katrina, which Williams oddly enough didn't mention). Only when the people are White does the question even get asked.

BTW, the houses that burned were mostly those near undeveloped, uncleared land. In this sense there will always be a "fire zone" as long as there are fires, because somebody has to live on the edge of developed land. To keep houses from burning simply requires more land to be kept more clear near these edges. Envirowackos are just as much to blame for that as Fed subsidies for rebuilding are.

This is politics answer to Dancing with the Stars...we now have Dancing with the Candidates!!!