Well now, I am back from a blistering trip to South Africa (blistering because every day was filled with lots to do). Mrs. Weapon and I survived the sharks, the Cheetahs, the Lions, the Rhinos, the Leopards, the Crocs, the Baboons, and all the other creatures of the continent. I will share a bit more of the trip as we go, but I wanted to take some time and add a few thoughts to the fray as we near yet another election of the person to “Lead” this country. I put lead in quotation marks because leadership has not thus far been a very strong characteristic of those in the position. I think the last few have preferred to “Rule” as opposed to “Lead.” I have to tell you up front that I am severely disappointed in this election cycle, just as I have been in others in the past. But it really does seem like each election cycle gets exponentially worse. I could be wrong, but I don’t think I am…
So let me start by saying that I don’t “like” either Mitt Romney or President Obama. I don’t think that either of them is a good choice for the office. In fact, I would rather swim with sharks than be forced to choose one of these two. So that is what I did! While in Africa, Mrs. Weapon and I did a little shark diving and safari-taking. We shot a ton of pictures and a lot of HD video. Here is my first attempt at creating a short movie using the shark footage from our dive:
It should be noted that Mrs. Weapon did, in fact, get in the cage. I wasn’t convinced that she would have the nerve to do so, but she didn’t hesitate and that reminded me that I married the right woman. I, on the other hand, couldn’t get enough. They literally had to tell me to get out of the water. I loved every minute of it.
Now on to the points… We are now through two Presidential debates and a VP debate. My thoughts on the winners so far:
Presidential Debate #1 – I really felt that Mitt Romney took Obama to the tool shed in this one. He was on point, threw out facts and left Obama dazed and stumbling over words. I think that what this really showed us is that Obama is not a good “debater”. He is great at being a likable guy. He is great at presenting pre-thought out ideas and speeches. But put him in a real debate where he has to think on his feet and he is well below standard. Winner… Romney
VP Debate – I would say in terms of actually dealing with policy and facts, the debate was a virtual tie. But I think that the sheer childishness and disrespect displayed by Biden was a real turn-off for a lot of people. He literally acted like what Democrats are attempting to run against: a spoiled frat boy. As a result, I think he actually turned off a lot of women voters, who don’t like that type of behavior in a candidate. Winner… Draw
Presidential Debate #2 – I felt as though Mitt was winning this early and Obama rallied back in the second half. The turning point was the moderator’s false interjection claiming Romney was wrong. From that point on, Romney wasn’t as confident and ended up appearing weak. I actually believe that the exchange with Crowley was pre-planned by the Democrats (there is some great analysis of this being potentially true out there). And it was effective. Dirty trick? Sure. But the reality is that a man who wants to be President shouldn’t get flustered like Romney did. Winner… CNN
But I do believe overall that Romney has seen the most gain through the first two Presidential debates. I think he has often made Obama appear far less polished than the Obama we are used to seeing and he further appeared for more knowledgable and likable than I think many thought he could be. HOWEVER, I still believe that the best debate between Romney and Obama was one that hasn’t been on National TV:
I am looking forward to the last debate. It will focus on Foreign Policy and that is one of the areas that is of interest to me. I believe Romney will be stronger here, but time will tell. I also believe that I will disagree with both of them in this arena. They will be playing to their bases, and neither will offer the non-interventionist policy that I would agree with.
What is really making me sad in this election cycle is the devolvement of the debate to talking points and social networking pictures that are all playing to the dumbest among us. Of course the talking points issue has always been around over the last half century. But I believe it is getting worse. The discourse in this election has again fallen to the level of personal attacks, mockery, and blatantly misleading talking points and sound bytes. A few of the highlights:
- Mitt Romney did not say he wouldn’t represent 47% of the country. He was talking strategy on votes and correctly said that he can’t worry about the 47% who will vote for Obama no matter what. That an incumbent President would latch onto this and maliciously portray it falsely speak volumes about how far the office has fallen.
- President Obama did not say business owners didn’t build their business. He was talking about the infrastructure that supports business (roads, shipping, etc) and correctly noted that this infrastructure wasn’t built by those businesses but they benefit from it. That a presidential candidate would latch onto this and maliciously portray it falsely says tons about how crappy the alternative is.
Those are just an example on each side of how childish and elementary this Presidential campaign has become. 30 years ago the full clip would have come to light and the candidate who falsely portrayed the other would have taken a really negative hit in their numbers for intentionally lying to the American people. Now, each side accepts this as part of the game. How sad is that?
Let’s be honest with each other here. We have seen childish games in the past. Gotcha politics isn’t something new. But honestly, can anyone remember a time when when an entire political campaign, on both sides, was so centrally based on nothing but propaganda? There is literally not a bit of substance in this entire campaign. No one is debating the issues earnestly. The game at this point is to find a way to portray the other side’s position in the worst possible light without any semblance of attempting to at least trying to portray the other’s position accurately.
And let’s be honest as well…. The accurate position of each party on certain issues is certainly bad enough without having to falsely twist that position beyond reality. I really believe that had either side in this election actually refrained from these tactics while simultaneously repeatedly pointing it out on the other side, they would have gotten a 5%-10% swing in their direction for doing so. There are a lot of Americans who see through this stuff and hate it, but they aren’t given an alternative because both sides are doing it!
And to take this election’s ugliness to another level, we have Facebook and other social networking sites. As a regular follower on Facebook, I am forced to digest the constant flow of misleading and ridiculous postings that get “shared” by every non-critical thinker that agrees with that party. Want a few examples?
All of these above are bullshit in one way or another. Many are simply vast over-simplifications that only tell part of the story or attribute all the blame to only one side or person. All of them were pulled off of Facebook postings or shares within the last two days. THIS is the primary source of political information for an entire group of people. And how sad is that? As I said, every single one of the things up there is misleading in some way, some more blatant than others (for example Romney would support overturning Roe, but cannot do it, so this is attempting to falsely scare people to vote against him). And we find all of this acceptable discourse in modern politics.
To quote our good friend JAC… We are all Screwed.