Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Great Debate

Angry!  Again!  Bitter?  Undoubtedly...  I sat in meditation this morning trying to fathom my clinging to this anger, using every technique I know to let it go.  But it persisted.

Last night's debate, for the time that I watched it, was another exercise in mindlessness.  This time I blame the candidates less than their inquisitors, Charles Gibson and George Stephanopoulos, who seemed intent on nothing more that baiting the two into further petty attacks on each other.  

I switched off, frustrated, after maybe half an hour.   There had been not a single question of substance in that entire time.   Perhaps those questions came later--questions about Bush's inexcusable war, global warming, world hunger; about our faltering economy and broken health care system, about jobs, education, a dangerously neglected infrastructure...  I hope so.  In the meantime, the two media questioners came up with Hillary's Bosnia fibs and the Reverend Jeremiah Wright.  Pathetic.  The result of their efforts was to make Hillary look still more offensive and Obama defensive.  When asked to explain yourself about the same issue for the hundredth time, how can your explanation look anything but defensive.

I just wished that either one of the candidates would have the guts to say, "No.  I would be happy to answer this question if I had not already answered it publicly a hundred times already, and five times already in the past half hour.  It was once a legitimate question, but by this time it is merely  demeaning to me and demeaning to my opponent.  It demeans you to keep asking it, and it demeans the intelligence of the audience and the American electorate.  If there were anything further to learn in pursuit of this topic, I would have no hesitation in pursuing it with you.  There is not.  I have nothing further to say about the matter, and ask that you turn your attention, instead, to matters of real importance."

That moment did not come while I was watching what ABC TV allowed to pass for a political debate.  From news reports this morning, I gather that it did not come at all.  The great Aha! moment, it seems, was that Clinton was brought finally to agree that Obama would be able to defeat McCain in the November election if he were nominated as the Democratic candidate.  (Has anyone noticed that Hillary rhymes with pillory; and Obama with diorama?)   Big deal.

Shame on Gibson and Stephanopoulos.  But shame on me, really, for allowing my mind to be engaged by this endless nonsense.  As I started out saying, I could not shake the anger that it left me with.  The great thing about meditation is that usually the practice of paying attention to the breath brings the mind into focus and allows it to leave intrusive thoughts and feelings behind.  This morning, I watched myself boiling inside and tried to breathe it all away, but after a half hour of assiduous effort, my mind was still clinging stubbornly to its indignation.  So I try writing instead.

Is this what the American public asks for?  Is this what we deserve?  When does it stop?  It feels like we're caught in one of those nightmares that allows us no prospect of escape.  Reason tells me that it can't go on forever.  But the heart is caught in dread. 

9 comments:

MandT said...

Believe me friend you are in good company. I'm starting to get a viseral disgust ---particularly when reading about the 'torture' convention that went on in the White House'----read Digby. It sickens the spirit.

thailandchani said...

Is this what the American public asks for? Is this what we deserve? When does it stop? It feels like we're caught in one of those nightmares that allows us no prospect of escape. Reason tells me that it can't go on forever. But the heart is caught in dread.

Now you're getting it. :)

This is what people must want. If they wanted something different, it would change. The petty attacks to avoid substance, the crass challenging about things that don't matter ~ not that different than what I posted about yesterday.

SSDD.

If people here want change, they'll create it. As Dr Phil says, this must be working for them.

I share your anger and distaste. And I understand it. Really. I do.

roger said...

borrowing a cliche' from the religionists....

amen brother!

robin andrea said...

Your fantasy Obama response is almost exactly the words I said to Roger this morning. Oh how I wish he would have said something like that. Please can we have a substantive discussion. Our country is going straight to hell right before our eyes, and these two "media" men thought the most important questions were about Rev. Wright, bitter, William Ayres?

Have we all become characters in a dystopian novel?

PeterAtLarge said...

Yes, yes, yes, and yes! Thanks for the supportive words! I have cross-posted this one to my Huffington Post blog. I'll be interested to see if it gets response there.

Sometimes Saintly Nick said...

I agree fully, Peter. I am tired of the whole primary process.

I almost wish that we were back in days when candidates where chosen in smoke filled rooms by the party bosses. At least that would spare us the pain of this debacle.

adeoskar said...

I just found this about a Buddhist Teacher, Ajaan Fuang. I thought it was somewhat related to what you were writing about. Just that, before getting fully immersed in societal problems, it is good to 'purify the self'. It's good that you were meditating :)

>When I first went to stay at Wat Dhammasathit, the B-52's from Utapao Air Force Base could sometimes be heard high overhead in the wee hours of the morning, flying on their bombing missions into Cambodia. Each time I heard them, I began to wonder what business I had meditating when there were so many injustices in the world that needed to be fought. When I mentioned this to Ajaan Fuang, he said, "If you try to straighten out the world without really straightening yourself out first, your own inner goodness will eventually break down, and then where will you be? You won't be able to do anybody — yourself or anyone else — any good at all.

They call him James Ure said...

"No. I would be happy to answer this question if I had not already answered it publicly a hundred times already, and five times already in the past half hour. It was once a legitimate question, but by this time it is merely demeaning to me and demeaning to my opponent. It demeans you to keep asking it, and it demeans the intelligence of the audience and the American electorate. If there were anything further to learn in pursuit of this topic, I would have no hesitation in pursuing it with you. There is not. I have nothing further to say about the matter, and ask that you turn your attention, instead, to matters of real importance."

Well said, that would have been brilliant if Obama said that. I think the ganging up on Obama will backfire.

It was garbage. The worst debate that I have ever seen.

DoctorNoe said...

It wasn't a debate. It was a press conference, as in full body press.