Thursday, February 23, 2012

It Isn’t An “Answer,” It’s An “Ad!”

Congratulations, Republicans! Your 20 “Debates” very nearly qualifies your show as an actual sitcom. (I’d call it a “reality” show, but those tend to be slightly more believable!) Most televisions shows in the United States produce a number of shows per season somewhere in mid-twenties. Other countries have other standards, heck! In the UK you could already be in your third series!

And it really can’t be called “news” programming as the “Debates” are so formulaic that if it weren’t for the Gaffs and unintended missteps, there would be no reason to cover them at all! The formula is simple. The moderator asks a question, occasionally an interesting question, and the candidates parrot their sound-bites. Occasionally, a telling exchange slips out that is more revealing that the rest of the program.

Last night’s glimpse behind the curtain came when the moderator called Mr. Romney to task for his non sequitur. The question was something along the lines of “What would the voters be surprised to learn about you.” To which response was something like the standard “I’m an outsider, I can change Washington, blah, blather, blah…”

John King, the CNN Moderator, interrupted the stream to point-out that the proffered response wasn’t really an answer and to ask the candidate to answer the question. The tersely worded response was “You get to ask the questions that you want, and I get to give the answers I want!” It was just the type of petulant nonsense that one would expect from a seasoned debater. (Oh, my god, I just felt a chill… did I feel the ghost of Sarah Palin? [shutter])

I think I see the problem here – both words begin with an “A” perhaps they have just become confused.

an•swer [an-ser, ahn-] noun  
1. a spoken or written reply or response to a question, request, letter, etc.: He sent an answer to my letter promptly.
2. a correct response to a question asked to test one's knowledge.
3. an equivalent or approximation: a singing group that tried to be the French answer to the Beatles.
4. an action serving as a reply or response: The answer was a volley of fire. 5. a solution to a problem, especially in mathematics. 

 ad [ad] noun 
1. advertisement.
2. advertising: an ad agency.

I guess that, technically, inasmuch as the random sounds issuing forth from their maws come in the general temporal proximity to that of the question being asked, it could be construed that one is in response to the other and is technically therefore in answer. The problem is that this isn’t helpful!

If students used this strategy during their orals, the answer to “fx=1/2x-3/5. Solve for x.” would be “Blue.”

The problem here, in my humble opinion, is that the public does not hold their elected officials to account. We don’t take an interest to the point that we demand responsiveness. We accept talking points as information. C’mon people, get active! It is the only way to keep them honest! To quote the old ubiquitous slogan from the sixties: “Question Authority!”

Wherever you are today I hope that you will take an interest in the affairs of state!

Don Bergquist – February 23, 2012 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

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