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Debate Week

Friday, October 26, 2012

How watching the presidential debates made me famous*

Posted By on 10.26.12 at 07:32 AM

An exotic group of gringos
  • An exotic group of gringos
*Sort of famous. OK, not really.

As I mentioned earlier this week, I moved recently, a process that included going through a bunch of stuff I haven't looked at in years. Tucked away in the back of an old folder was an article from a Chilean newspaper dated November 14, 2004, which told the story of how a couple friends and I watched the presidential debates while living in Santiago. The obvious question, of course, is why anyone would write about this, and I honestly don't know the answer. Slow news day, I guess. And Las Ultimas Noticias, the paper that published it, is more of a tabloid than anything else. For example, one of the stories on their website this week was about Bruno the chihuahua, who plays Benjamin (coincidentally, also a chihuahua) on a new soap opera.

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Thursday, October 25, 2012

Obama versus the GOP—why isn't it on the fight card?

Posted By on 10.25.12 at 06:40 AM

Richard Mourdock
  • Richard Mourdock
Barack Obama is running for reelection against Mitt Romney, but I've wondered why he isn't running against the Republican Party.

Would it be a political mistake for Obama to argue, rather than perhaps now and then suggest, that the Republican Party is unfit to govern? I say argue, but I mean point out. If Romney—let's say the moderate Romney who showed up for this week's debate on foreign policy—were to reach the White House, the negotiating skills he likes to boast about (not that they were actually much in evidence during his four years as governor of Massachusetts) wouldn't be half as necessary to reach agreements with the Democrats as with the right wing of his own party. Negotiations would mean compromises, and compromises would mean giving the right wing a lot of what it wants.

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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

What the candidates were thinking during the last debate

Posted By on 10.24.12 at 09:14 AM

BOB SCHIEFFER: Good evening from the campus of Lynn University here in Boca Raton, Florida. This is the fourth and last debate of the 2012 campaign . . .

MITT ROMNEY: I hope to heck to make you proud, Pop.

BARACK OBAMA: What I wouldn't give for a smoke.

BS: . . . Was it an intelligence failure? Was it a policy failure? Was there an attempt to mislead people about what really happened?

MR: We see in—in—in Libya an attack apparently by—well, I think we know now by terrorists of some kind.

BO: A cigarette and a glass of White House honey ale.

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Monday, October 22, 2012

Flex hours and work-life balance are great and all, but how about liberating women from making dinner?

Posted By on 10.22.12 at 04:36 PM

I cant wait for a womens lib movement that will allow me to leave work early so I can make dinners as delicious as this one.
  • Shutterstock
  • I can't wait for a women's lib movement that will allow me to leave work early so I can make dinners as delicious as this one.
OK, women. Another presidential debate tonight brings another opportunity to binder together and further widen the gender gap. But before the third and final act arrives this evening, let’s revisit the low point of act two.

Mitt Romney’s three-ring faux pas might have gotten all the attention during last week's presidential debate, but it was hardly the most insensitive of his statements regarding women. To me, the worst was the second part of his response to audience member Katherine Fenton’s question, “In what new ways do you intend to rectify the inequalities in the workplace, specifically regarding females making only 72 percent of what their male counterparts earn?”

Romney first replied with the “binders full of women” comment, which is why folks could barely register (over the deafening tweeting) what he said next:

"I recognized that if you're going to have women in the workforce, that sometimes they need to be more flexible. My chief of staff, for instance, had two kids that were still in school. She said, ‘I can't be here until seven or eight at night. I need to be able to get home at five so I can be there for making dinner for my kids and being with them when they get home from school. So we said, ‘Fine, let's have a flexible schedule so you can have hours that work for you.’”

So Romney’s the type of guy who’s cool with letting a woman leave work two hours early to cook for her kids. And yes, that sounds likes a swell quality in a boss. But considering that, as president, Romney would be the boss of relatively few women, who cares what time he’d let them leave? And anyway, who really wants to work in a place where the women are allowed to leave early so they can mince garlic and dice tomatoes and brown onions? (If I left work at five I could roll out fresh pasta, too, but that’s not the point.)

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Bears-Lions or Obama-Romney?

Posted By on 10.22.12 at 03:20 PM

The Bears--and both candidates--will be looking for a Charles Peanut Tillman moment tonight
  • Jeffrey Beall
  • The Bears—and both candidates—will be looking for a Charles "Peanut" Tillman moment tonight
What a busy night for TV contests! The Cardinals play the Giants in San Francisco for the National League pennant, and the Bears hope to improve to 5-1 by taming the Detroit Lions in Soldier Field. Meantime, in Boca Raton, Florida, another bruising battle is expected between President Barack Obama and former governor Mitt Romney.

Most Chicago TV viewers will be shuttling between the football game and the debate. The Bears game has a big viewership advantage because of its earlier start—kickoff is 7:30, whereas the debate begins at 8. This means Chicagoans will learn a lot more about Syria if Jay Cutler has a bad night.

The focus of the debate is foreign policy, and critical questions will be answered, such as which candidate will be the first to declare that U.S. soldiers are the bravest, strongest, and best looking in the world.

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Debating debates this week because of this debate-filled day

Posted By on 10.22.12 at 08:32 AM

Drawing of the 1960 Kennedy-Nixon Debate, Franklin McMahon
  • Drawing of the 1960 Kennedy-Nixon Debate, Franklin McMahon
Tonight is the final presidential debate before the election, and thank goodness. The past month has been a nonstop stream of online chatter about these presidential debates—who won, who performed with more energy, what it means for the election—even though they've seemed like nothing more than a giant theatrical charade, more so than any other time before. But hey, they've been entertaining, and since we love a good debate, this week's Variations on a Theme is Debate Week. (In case you missed it, here's Local Artist Week, last week's Variations on a Theme.)

Lately, the presidential debates are what come to mind when the word "debate" is mentioned (at least in America, and especially in the media), but the topic would be a prescient one even at a different time of the year. In media, whether it be print, televisual, or digital, the debate format is more popular than ever. News articles increasingly take a tack that will engender lively comments section—the website Slate has even created a Twitter hashtag that lampoons the publication's tendency to publish blatantly contrarian articles. Television news programs do less investigative journalism and more roundtable discussions between pundits who look like they want to do little more than promote their own brand. And Twitter and Facebook comment boxes (not to mention comment sections on websites) are unending sources of debates between friends, colleagues, acquaintances, friends of friends, people who don't know each other, and trolls.

In the current media landscape, debates are ubiquitous, so what better to write about? Tune in all this week to read Reader writers on the presidential debates, topics that are being debated, or the notion of debates. By the time it ends, we might decide to do soliloquy week as a respite.

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