copyright © 2007 Betsy L. Angert
The night was young, and yet, the messages were old. The top-tier Democratic hopefuls huddled together around a round table. The stage was prepared and the performance would be unparalleled. Each character in this play reveled in an accepted reality. Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, or Barack Obama, are “right” for the country. No one else could compare to this cast of characters. In truth, the three were one. The dramatic debate was cordial and quaint. The candidates were polite, prim, and extremely proper. The production was well-managed. No one was scolded. Regrets were expressed. Geniality grew as the hopefuls promised to do no harm to the others.
It was easy to be calm. The setting was comfortable. Candidates were able to comfortably sit in chairs. The dialogue was intended to seem spontaneous. There was no rehearsal, supposedly. As the Presidential aspirants interacted amicably, spoke, the audience wondered; would they join hands and hum kumbaya.
The only possible opposition to the message of unified-status-quo was strategically eliminated from the panel. Corps and the Courts barred the only voice-of-change from what MSNBC billed as a Democratic Candidate Debate. General Electric owned and operated, MSNBC refused to allow Presidential aspirant Dennis Kucinich to participate in this televised assemblage. Apparently, according to Donald Campbell, a Las Vegas lawyer who represented NBC Universal, “The Federal Communication Commission [FCC] broadcast rules do not apply to cable TV networks.”
Given this statement, unexpectedly, Americans have an answer to what has long been a source of confusion. The cable news channels need not broadcast in the interest of the people. An audience, the source for sales, is captive. For producers, favoritism is fine. Viewers, who have long claimed the candidate they will cast a ballot for, are absent from the air, now, we know why. Only those, the writers considered crucial were part of the plot. Extras, or unelectables, as defined by the network Directors, need not apply.
Attorney Donald Campbell proclaimed, to force MSNBC to include the people’s entrant, Dennis Kucinich, or not air the debate if the Congressman from Ohio did not appear, would amount to “prior restraint.” Legal legend, Campbell declared to allow Presidential aspirant Kucinich to take the stage would be a tantamount to a “clear and unequivocal” violation of the First Amendment. Campbell pleaded with the Justices, and requested they consider the right to a free press. The Nevada Supreme Court Jurors conferred and concluded Campbell was correct.
Individual liberties, and the ‘public’s right to know’ may be legally abridged if cable corporate Chief Executives needs are involved. in 2008, exceptions and exclusions dominate the Democratic debates as does obfuscation.
Americans might have heard in the past, on the few occasions when they were afforded an opportunity, Congressman Kucinich is committed to bring the all the troops home from Iraq months after he enters the Oval Office. Not only will President Kucinich establish a policy of truth and reconciliation, Commander-In-chief Kucinich will lead with a refined resolution.
The US announces it will end the occupation, close military bases and withdraw. The insurgency has been fueled by the occupation and the prospect of a long-term presence as indicated by the building of permanent bases. A US declaration of an intention to withdraw troops and close bases will help dampen the insurgency which has been inspired to resist colonization and fight invaders and those who have supported US policy. Furthermore this will provide an opening where parties within Iraq and in the region can set the stage for negotiations towards peaceful settlement.
Our future President Dennis Kucinich, believes we must recognize the plight of the people of Iraq. Americans cannot ignore the truth; we went to war on false premises. This fact alone affects the battle. For too long citizens of this “free” democratic homeland deny the realities on the ground. Circumstances ensure there is no hope of a military resolution. As occupiers, we provoke more discord than bring peace. A President Kucinich avows the United States must own its responsibility, and accept our actions caused the chaos. A diplomatic process, adherence to international law will achieve stability in Iraq. When Americans work towards a reverent resolution in Iraq, our troops will be able to return home with dignity.
This philosophy and plan contrasts with the Three-Are-One Plan. What Americans heard was, as Fact Check characterized it, “Iraqi Theatre,” absurd, and lackluster. Nonetheless, this, we are told is want Americans want, regardless of the polls that state the general public wants out of this futile war.
Once again, the candidates all made sweeping claims about their plans to withdraw troops from Iraq. Obama and Edwards promised to “get our troops out” by the end of 2009, while Clinton promised to begin withdrawing troops within 60 days and promised to have “nearly all the troops out” by the end of 2009. But under questioning, all three conceded that troops could be in Iraq for years:
Obama: I will end the war as we understand it in combat missions. But that we are going to have to protect our embassy. We’re going to have to protect our civilians. We’re engaged in humanitarian activity there. We are going to have to have some presence that allows us to strike if al Qaeda is creating bases inside of Iraq.
Clinton: Well, I think that what Barack is what John and I also meant at that same time, because, obviously, we have to be responsible, we have to protect our embassy, we do need to make sure that, you know, our strategic interests are taken care of.
Edwards: I just want to say, it is dishonest to suggest that you’re not going to have troops there to protect the embassy. That’s just not the truth. It may be great political theater and political rhetoric, but it’s not the truth.
As far as we can tell, there isn’t much daylight between the Iraq policies of Clinton, Edwards and Obama. The biggest difference we noticed: Edwards would station some combat troops in Kuwait and bring them into Iraq whenever they were needed to counter terrorist activity. Clinton and Obama would keep about the same number of troops for precisely the same mission, but they would station those troops in Iraq. We leave it to our readers to determine how significant that difference is.
There is a distinction between combat troops and embassy guards. But the candidates drew this distinction only when pressed. The fact is all of them would have Americans in uniform stationed in Iraq indefinitely, and all of them leave open the possibility that U.S. combat troops will be fighting limited engagements in Iraq for years, whether they are stationed in Iraq or Kuwait. That leaves us agreeing with Edwards: There was definitely some political theater going on.
After this performance, the actors did not stand; nor did they take their bows. These artistes are professional entertainers. Clinton, Edwards, and Obama need no props. They can deliver a monologue without a script. These three are truly practiced. They know their craft.
Cater to the corporate sponsors. Cackle in a charming manner. Be charismatic. Present a commanding presence. Remember, the public likes it when you are cute. Cry, if you must, but be cautious. True emotions can distract or create distance between you and the audience. Strut your stuff, but whatever you do, do not subscribe to the “extreme” positions, mainstream candidate Congressman Kucinich does.
“Exit Iraq?” That idea is preposterous. There is money to be had from war. The truer Weapon of Mass Destruction is Dennis Kucinich.
Speaking of arsenals, MSNBC Correspondents, and employees of parent company General Electric turn to the topic of guns. The Presidential players sing the song conventionally Conservative, Constitutional constructionist wish to hear. Guns? Grab me by the barrel and I am yours.
Russert: We arrived in Nevada, the headline in Nevada Appeal newspaper: Nevada leads in gun deaths.
Russert: The leading cause for death among young black men is guns — death, homicide. Mayor Bloomberg of New York, you all know him, he and 250 mayors have started the campaign, Mayors Against Illegal Guns.
Senator Clinton, when you ran for the Senate in 2000, you said that everyone who wishes to purchase a gun should have a license, and that every handgun sale or transfer should be registered in a national registry. Will you try to implement such a plan?
Clinton: Well, I am against illegal guns, and illegal guns are the cause of so much death and injury in our country. I also am a political realist and I understand that the political winds are very powerful against doing enough to try to get guns off the street, get them out of the hands of young people.
The law in New York was as you state, and the law in New York has worked to a great extent.
Clinton: I don’t want the federal government preempting states and cities like New York that have very specific problems.
So here’s what I would do. We need to have a registry that really works with good information about people who are felons, people who have been committed to mental institutions like the man in Virginia Tech who caused so much death and havoc. We need to make sure that that information is in a timely manner, both collected and presented.
We do need to crack down on illegal gun dealers. This is something that I would like to see more of.
And we need to enforce the laws that we have on the books. I would also work to reinstate the assault weapons ban. We now have, once again, police deaths going up around the country, and in large measure because bad guys now have assault weapons again. We stopped it for awhile. Now they’re back on the streets.
So there are steps we need to take that we should do together. You know, I believe in the Second Amendment. People have a right to bear arms. But I also believe that we can common-sensically approach this.
Russert: But you’ve backed off a national licensing registration plan?
Ahhh, the audience applauds. We witness one of those moments of regret. A subdued Clinton, in character shows her inner strength. She is strong enough to admit she was [once] wrong, or at least, did not act in accordance with what the producers or the public relations persons say the people prefer. The moderator, the narrator, or the demigod for political dialogue then turns his attention to another in the cast.
Russert: Senator Obama, when you were in the state senate, you talked about licensing and registering gun owners. Would you do that as president?
Obama: I don’t think that we can get that done. But what I do think we can do is to provide just some common-sense enforcement. One good example — this is consistently blocked — the efforts by law enforcement to obtain the information required to trace back guns that have been used in crimes to unscrupulous gun dealers.
That’s not something that the NRA has allowed to get through Congress. And, as president, I intend to make it happen.
But here’s the broader context that I think is important for us to remember. We essentially have two realities, when it comes to guns, in this country. You’ve got the tradition of lawful gun ownership, that all of us saw, as we travel around rural parts of the country.
And it is very important for many Americans to be able to hunt, fish, take their kids out, teach them how to shoot.
And then you’ve got the reality of 34 Chicago public school students who get shot down on the streets of Chicago.
We can reconcile those two realities by making sure the Second Amendment is respected and that people are able to lawfully own guns, but that we also start cracking down on the kinds of abuses of firearms that we see on the streets.
We began this performance with the notion of Amendments. It seems apt that we return to the discussion of Rights. On stage, the actors address issues of public interest, while they work to avoid any offer of information in the interest of the common good.
Russert: Senator Edwards, Democrats used to be out front for registration and licensing of guns. It now appears that there’s a recognition that it’s hard to win a national election with that position. Is that fair?
Edwards: I think that’s fair, but I haven’t changed my position on this. I’m against it. Having grown up where I did in the rural South, everyone around me had guns, everyone hunted. And I think it is enormously important to protect people’s Second Amendment rights.
I don’t believe that means you need an AK-47 to hunt. And I think the assault weapons ban, which Hillary spoke about just a minute ago, as president of the United States, I’ll do everything in my power to reinstate it. But I do think we need a president who understands the sportsmen, hunters who use their guns for lawful purposes have a right to have their Second Amendment rights looked after.
Might we again ask of Rights, the Bill of Rights, Constitutional Amendments, and how the Courts apply these to weapons-maker General Electric, the owner, and operator of Microsoft-NBC. Could we consider the courts determination and how the same rules affect the outcome as it relates to citizen, Congressman, and Presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich. The words freedom and justice for all come to mind. In a country where all men are created equal, perchance, the interest of Corporate Chiefs supersedes those of the common folk.
Were we to review Act I, Scenes II, II, or IV we would see how similar the cast of characters are on issues such as Energy, Health Care, Immigration and more. However, this Playbill is just as the Producers prefer, concise. After all, conventional wisdom, which is all the network wishes to present, is American audiences have short attention spans. This too, maybe by design.
As the public reviews the reality of the program, they need not know that General Electric offers a panoply of products and services all affected by the President of the United Sates and his or her Administration. Personal interests, and certainly, not public needs, may have prompted the parent company of MSNBC to do as they did. This conglomerate produces or provides engines for planes, petroleum, energy, and entertainment. Health Care, Business, and Consumer Credit are integral parts of the General Electric portfolio. This major Producer/Director does much more than light the auditorium, or offer well choreographed “enlightenment.”
Perchance, critics might pose the better question. Why are Americans willing to accept theatre of the absurd? Citizens tune in and channel the “advisable” perceptions. The “majority” of people consider Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and John Edwards as separate candidates, the super stars, amongst the dramatis personae. Audience members focus on placement and how a Presidential hopeful moves across the stage. Intonations inspire. Cadence counts. Most Americans ignore that there is little variance in the actors’ script. Personalities may not be identical. However, essentially, the three are one.
As Americans look at the Presidential aspirants declared viable, we laugh, we clap, we cheer, and we jeer. Once we choose the candidate-of-change, and place that person in the Oval Office, might we realize as we could have during this “debate,” there is little difference? Will citizens ask for a refund? This premiere performance might help us to understand, the price of this ticket may be far too costly.
Scenes, Sources, The Stage . . .
- Scoldings, Regrets and Forced Geniality, but Little Fun, By Alessandra Stanley. The New York Times. January 16, 2008
- The Democratic Debate in Las Vegas; Transcript. The New York Times. January 15, 2008
- pdf The Democratic Debate in Las Vegas; Transcript. The New York Times. January 15, 2008
- Kucinich loses appeal to join MSNBC debate, Nevada high court says network was within its First Amendment rights. Associated Press. January 15, 2008
- Prior Restraint. Law.com
- First Amendment Cornell Law University.
- Kucinich unveils comprehensive exit plan to bring troops home, stabilize Iraq, By Dennis J Kucinich. Monday, January 8, 2007
- Stacking the Deck. Dems deal misleading statements in Vegas debate. Fact Check. January 16, 2008
- Weapons Maker General Electric Rewrites Criteria to Exclude Kucinich from Debate, By davidswanson. AfterDowningStreet. January 11, 2008
- Weapons Makers. CorpWatch
- The Case Against General Electric. Human Rights Watch.
- Aviation. General Electric.
- Products and Services General Electric.
- Oil and Gas. General Electric.
- Energy. General Electric.
- Media and Entertainment. General Electric .
- Health Care. General Electric.
- Finance – Business. General Electric.
- Finance – Consumer. General Electric.