Surprise " a revealing moment in TV debate |

Surprise " a revealing moment in TV debate

I haven’t watched all the presidential debates during this, the longest damned election in the history of politics, but I feel a need to address the race every now and then because it really might make a difference who ends up taking the oath of office next January.

I haven’t really wanted to devote much time to the race after my guy, Dennis Kucinich from Ohio, dropped out recently. And, truth to tell, I consider televised presidential debates to be only slightly more interesting than reruns of “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?” and about as meaningful.

I don’t have much in the way of devotional energy toward either of the two Democrats, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, although I am sure that whichever one of them comes out on top will get my vote, just to get the Republicans out of the White House.

As for the TV debate events, I’ll put it in terms of sports metaphor, which is one of this country’s favorite ways of framing political points. Talking heads from various corporate news firms (similar in style and makeup to law firms) lob softballs at the candidates, which the candidates proceed to bunt in one direction or another. Home runs are rarely hit, errors are frequent, but the whole thing is never fatal to the hopes of one team or another since no one is really keeping score.

So it was surprising when I came home the other night to the unusual circumstance of seeing Obama and Clinton at a CNN debate from Texas on the television, and my spousal unit glued to the tube like it was a marathon of those old movies she loves to watch.

As often is the case, I got home a little on the late side, being a commuting slave on the downvalley bus line, so I missed most of the debate and can’t say which of the two came out on top.

But I did find one moment, late in the game, fairly interesting. The moderator, whoever she was, asked each candidate to identify the moment in their lives, careers, whatever, that had most defined them, most clearly shown them what they were made of ” or something like that.

Obama, going first, talked about his upbringing by his mom and grandma in a household with no dad, and about his early work as an attorney seeking social justice in the world of labor law and civil rights. He went on fairly endlessly on that theme without really coming to grips with the question.

That seems to be just the way he is. He has high ideals, a fairly robust ego and sufficient charisma in a well-spoken way to pretty much glue a crowd in place until he’s done talking. As a consequence he feels perfectly justified in taking a good long time to say anything, which can occasionally turn into a bit of a rambling monologue that winds on just a bit more than it should.

Then Clinton got her ambitious hands on the mike, and noted that everyone in the audience knew she has been through some challenging ordeals. From the chuckles and whoops coming from off-camera, I took her meaning to be that notorious episode of philandering by her former-president husband, which involved an intern named Monica Lewinsky, closets, stained dresses, cigars and the most shamelessly hypocritical impeachment effort by his Republican enemies that we’re likely to see for a long time.

Hillary, as we all know, stood by her man even as she denied being the kind who would blindly do so, and bully for her, since the whole thing was tawdry but hardly a threat to national security. And besides, it was widely believed that she really didn’t care what Bill did with his peter, since it was his political ambition that drew her to him in the first place.

But how, exactly, does that suit her to become what we rather stupidly call “The Leader Of The Free World”? Should we vote her into office because she chose her deeply-rooted ambition for political leadership over such outdated notions as domestic bliss and trust?

Or should we elect her because she opted not to turn on the man who, by many reports, brought political corruption to new heights during two terms in office and smoothed the way for George Bush to blithely disregard federal laws of all kinds when it was his turn to play with the big guns?

I don’t know for sure, but it seems to me that we need some fresh air in the White House after nearly two decades of Bush-Clinton stench.

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