Thursday, November 17, 2011

Republican Debates:Hottest Reality?

Colleen O'Connor at the La Jolla Patch wrote:

Opinion: Why Republican Debates are the Hottest Reality TV Shows Around

The recession, unemployment and the mere fact that the Republican presidential candidates are standup thinkers—are reasons you need to watch the debates.

Who knew?

The Republican Presidential Primary debates are so popular that news outlets are scrambling to add even more, according to The New York Times.

Thus far, there have been eleven televised debates—with ten more scheduled. This doesn’t count the Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich sit-downs, or the serialized radio and TV interviews with each candidate. The settings have ranged from sedate round table Q&As to live-audience booing and applause.

Every corporate or educational sponsor knows that the fastest way to improve your brand is to hitch it to a rising star—be it pop, literary, or political—and a big, television audience.

Thus, college campuses, presidential libraries, network studios, newspapers, and even social networking sites are keen to sponsor the GOP debates. For whatever reason, the GOP debates have proven popular.

Thus far, they have produced surprisingly large audiences, some fun news cycles, and, dare I say it, democracy as reality TV.

The latest CNBC “all economics forum” produced the best results yet. Some actual information, some humor, some human and serious push-back moments, and a huge audience share for the cable news network—3.3 million viewers.

CNBC trumped the other cable news channels. Omitting the networks’ Olympic coverage and the O.J. Simpson civil trial, the debate garnered the networks’ highest ratings since 1997, according to the NYT's Media Decoder blog.

The first GOP debate, sponsored by Fox News, understandably, has drawn the largest audience thus far—6.1 million.

But it is the strength of the repeat viewership of these nearly two dozen debates that has many asking “WHY?”

Several answers appear obvious.

No matter one’s political persuasion, these debates make for great television. Someone goes off script. The audience chimes in with boos or applause. The moderators take the hit—because the only group less popular than politicians is the press. And what results is, yes, democracy as reality TV.

Furthermore, the Republican candidates have gone from small-minded attacks against each other (CNN) and armchair brotherhood talks (Gingrich and Cain) to serious, standup thinking. They have “upped their game” from hairstyles, tie colors and put-downs to some intelligent, consequential thinking.

More seriously, the debates occur at a time when the country is lurching for leadership. Increasing unemployment, never-ending wars, fear, and uncertainty make for highly motivated “study-up” time. Viewers and voters want to choose wisely.

In addition, the split in the Republican Party between moderate vs. Tea Party, and cultural vs. economic purity, is compelling—and imbued with great and genuine passion. The differences between the Republicans and the Democrats is even broader and, arguably, even more passionate.

The history of these American divides is long, contentious and serious. The original rift and failure—the Articles of Confederation—almost caused us to become 13 nations instead of one. That issue, as today, remains states’ rights vs. a centralized government.

Who has or should have the ultimate authority? The founding fathers simply finessed the problem when they drafted the U.S. Constitution. Resultant generations did the same—compromise—even as the country expanded from east to west coast, from Canada to Mexico. Compromise always won over disunion—until the 1860s.

It took a civil war and over 600,000 Americans dead to resolve the question in favor of the central government, but the fight—and the debate—remains. That is why the GOP debates are so fascinating. All the changes that the victorious Union forced on the Confederacy are under attack—albeit updated. The Federal Reserve, the states’ rights to decide about health care, education, vaccines, illegal immigration, border security, the environment, aid to the poor, etc.

And the conflicts have taken on more urgency, as the states feel their economies buckle under increased federal mandates—often unaccompanied by any additional funds.

Thus far, no one in American can complain that they are unrepresented. The Democrats have President Obama and the Republicans have a whole smorgasbord of candidates from whom to choose.

Everyone should watch and cheer the GOP primary debates as they represent the “loyal opposition” side of democracy: i.e., the right to dissent, disagree and demand change.

And, everyone should watch and cheer the GOP vs. Democrats general election debates.

Just saying. Time to “study up.”


And I replied (redundant* to this blog, but... )

'No one's unrepresented'??? Obama's a Trojan Horse. AIG bankrolled him. He does essentially everything the neocons want and gets away with it because the Far Unbalanced Network zombots are pushbuttoned to mewl what a lefty radical he is. I don't understand this pandemic of blind idiocy. Before drugs and mass psychological programming had taken over society, the Soviets countered our scorn of totalitarian one-party government by saying we has a one-and-a-half party system. Now it's so much less! All a big FAKE (more obviously than those masking-tape-and-plastic-wrap Kumtag Desert 'mysterious structures') - and we're buying it when we have no money left and 'employers' who only offer no-wage jobs. Daft as his pronouncements sometimes get, Gore Vidal is right in saying we have only one party, the BANK Party.

Who represents pacifists? No one. Who represents those who want an economy based on the production and fair exchange of actual useful goods instead of stock market gambling and money manipulation? No one. What politicians truly in power are TRULY against: Petrochemical and nuke dependence? NAFTA/our goods being made /jobs taken by foreigners? The juggernaut fascism of eminent domain, 'private mandates', the military-industrial complex and other forms of pouring both our rights and tax money into the hands of private contractors? Marketing obscenity, waste, greed and brutality? Lobbies /the buying of pols and 'legal outcomes'? Etc. Who's really for what 'right to life', 'right to privacy' and protection of the helpless/voiceless, 'the family' and the environment ought all to really imply? NO ONE. They're played as hot buttons and hot potatoes -and as stupidly as possible- to bemuse voters by politicians and pundits who NEVER WANT THESE PROBLEMS SOLVED, only money thrown at them and rights surrendered to them.

* Then, I watched the Republican debates until it was obvious they were redundant - and I have only so much taste for comedies of horror.

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