mm508: A great, and most useful, debate

© Kevin Renes |

© Kevin Renes |

The last debate.

Three weeks to go.

Got me to reminisce about my early exposure to politics.

The first presidential debate I ever watched was the first modern presidential debate: Nixon v. Kennedy, 1960.

I was a kid, growing up in a very political household. My dad had been a precinct captain, and was soon to become Democratic township committeeman of our (before he took over) rock-ribbed Republican suburb.

My mother was the brains of the outfit, who had helped my dad go door to door to elect a Democratic congressman whose name was always gold in their house, even 40 years later, Barratt O’Hara.

The first television we had was purchased not to watch Uncle Miltie and the antics of Lucy and Desi, but rather was acquired to watch the conventions of 1952.

In late 1959, my parents began an impossibly quixotic quest: from our family room they created a national campaign to nominate Chester Bowles of Connecticut for president. Where this cockamamie idea came from I have no idea to this day. A very distinguished progressive politician. Before that, a phenomenally successful advertising executive. Once and future ambassador to India and Under Secretary of State.

Way too qualified for the presidency.

Yr (justifiably) humble svt spent many a weekend that year and through mid-1960 stuffing, addressing and stamping envelopes.

It was a simpler time. Stuffing envelopes in support of a national presidential campaign by hand, indeed.

My parents were crushed when they arrived in Los Angeles for the Democratic convention only to find the fix was in, and Jack Kennedy the landslide nominee.

They left, and took a much needed vacation to San Francisco. But, staying with my grandmother, my siblings and I watched that convention, and the Republican one.

So, aged 12, I accompanied my parents to the nearby Unitarian church, where several large screen TVs were set up for the local Democratic party faithful to watch the proceedings. Of course, this being 1960, the large screen TVs were maybe 25-inch.

But it made an impression.

Nixon: tricky,  in need of a shave for his five-o’clock shadow, not trustworthy.

Kennedy: youthful, dynamic, eloquent.

There was no doubt in my young mind who would win the election.

Fast forward 48 years. (O. M. G.)

Watched the debates (all four of them, start to finish) on MUDGElet No. 3’s 50-inch high definition TV, currently harbored (as is he) in our humble abode.

Can’t hide anything from high definition.

Tonight’s final McCain-Obama debate was the best one of their three, I think. McCain finally seemed to be prepared. Askew, but prepared. Way too focused on plumbers for some reason. Maybe it was something he ate.

And Obama seemed, as always, to have command of the facts and was typically imperturbable in the face of the odd grimaces and all too expected character attacks. Does anyone even slightly to the left of Attila the Hun really care about Bill Ayers?

McCain: Ancient, snarling, reptilian.

Obama: Knowledgeable, calm, reassuring.

As more than one observer has noted tonight, it seems inconceivable that one would willingly invite the former into your living room for the next four years. Jarring. Discordant. Discomforting.

Whereas Senator Obama … well, we’ve been listening to and watching him for many, many months now.

Cool under fire. Thoughtful. Capable.

The choice we citizens face November 4 — now, actually for the many states that are allowing early voting — has never seemed so strikingly clear.

The ugly past v. the handsome future.

And their looks have absolutely nothing to do with that comparison.

It’s it for now. Thanks.


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4 Responses to mm508: A great, and most useful, debate

  1. WBentrim says:

    Some good and not so good memories tweaked by your post. On the bright side, I honchoed Kids Voting Southeast PA in 2006 and it was stimulating to have over 1400 volunteers work with over 16,000 students voting on a non-presidential election. There is a surprising awareness of the need to participate in the process in the kids. So maybe there is hope for the future. This is a link to a commercial done by a group of my high school kids to promote voting. They wrote, acted and produced it.

  2. mudge says:

    Very cool video, WBentrim, thanks so much for sharing it, and for adding so much to our dialog here.

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