VIC's VIEW: We do not have to settle for awful debates


COLUMN 10-21-20


The Way To Debate



“Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.” - Daniel Patrick Moynahan


For those of us who think a constant-interruption, snarling debate is “politics as usual” and something we are just going to have to accept, I give you Pence vs. Harris on October 7, 2020.

And, perhaps to a lesser extent, Graham vs. Harrison in South Carolina. By all accounts the incumbent U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham and Senate-hopeful Jaime Harrison both acquitted themselves quite well as they squared off for a lively and informative debate. Later, Graham told a police group in Myrtle Beach, “Liberals, we’re going to kick your (word not appropriate for a family newspaper).”

Graham needs to be a little snarly - people are voting for his opponent Harrison with their pocketbooks (campaign donations). The race is considered a toss-up.

The Graham-Harrison race is for a spot in the U.S. Senate. The Pence-Harris race is for a spot one heartbeat away from the Presidency of the United States, one of the world’s most powerful positions as commander in chief of the world’s most powerful military. 

Voters needed to hear what these political figures had to say about the issues of the day.

In the run-up to the debate, Pence’s campaign manager chided Harris for wanting to debate “in a fortress,” referring to the Plexiglas that separated the candidates. That was a precaution in acknowledgement of the COVID-19 pandemic. But that was a decision of the Commission on Presidential Debates, and was justified because Pence has been exposed to President Donald J. Trump, who is receiving covid treatments in the hospital in the White House. Trump and his challenger, former Vice-President Joe Biden, are scheduled to debate two more times - if the President’s health and potential for infecting others allows it. We’re still not sure what’s to be done about Trump’s constant interrupting,

It's a debate tactic he learned from former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie as a way to address Biden, who has dealt with a severe childhood stutter. The aim was clear - annoy Biden so much his stutter would reappear, and the conservative narrative that he is senile would be reinforced.

For some of us, this is “politics as usual.”

Also, discouragingly, this kind of politics includes The Boogeyman approach. I make people around me seriously annoyed when I clap back at political ads (in my best halloweeny voice), “Owww, the boogeyman, be afraid, be VERY afraid!”

I have 27 pieces of campaign- and vote-related mail from Graham, Harrison, the SC Democratic and Republican Parties, the US Postal Service, Security Is Strength, Women Speak Out, and LCV Victory Fund, and in almost all of Graham’s mailings he uses the dreaded “L” word (I guess I’m thankful he didn’t use the dreaded “R” word), and one of his mailers makes Harrison’s image “blacker” than it should be without Photoshopping. 

Graham evokes all the usual “Boogeymen” - he criticizes Harrison who wants to be a United States Senator for having an admiring relationship with Nancy Pelosi, who is the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives. Somebody in the Senate being friends with someone in the House - dreadful!

Hillary Clinton (of course) makes an appearance, and the absolutely medically safe and law-protected right to an abortion does, also. Graham points out that China, North Korea, and the United States allow abortion on demand after 20 weeks of pregnancy - as if Harrison who has not yet been elected to any office bears responsibility for that fact. 

Graham’s one mailer than is not “attack” says he is endorsed by President Trump (before the president started taking steroids). All the dog-whistles are there - socialist agenda, conservative judges (also known as court-packing), Kavanaugh, strong on life. But in none of these - and I have 5 of them - does the Senior Senator from South Carolina say, “This is what I am going to do. Re-elect me, and this is what I am going to do.” Most of his TV ads don’t either - unlike his buddy The President whose recent ads lay out a precise course - Trump’s “vision” - for the nation’s mask-less future.

For Harrison’s part, he doesn’t either lay out a plan - the one mailer I have from him says The Old Lindsey Graham “is gone.” Hmm, I’m not too sure about that. When a person’s job is on the line, I’m not sure if they “change,” or just show their true colors.


(Vic MacDonald is editor of The Clinton Chronicle. He has voted in all Presidential elections going back to McGovern-Nixon. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The Chronicle. MacDonald can be reached at 833-1900 or

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