Sunday, October 23, 2011

Patriotic Peacock Feathers

By Lars Trodson

During the Republican debate that was broadcast on CNN a couple of weeks ago, I began to wonder what message the network was actually trying to convey. Was the debate an opportunity for the candidates to get their views out to the viewing public? Or was it a chance for CNN to tell the world that it was the most patriotic company Ever?

I was asking the question because, as my attention drifted away from what the candidates were saying -- nothing even the most casual observers of politics had not heard before -- I became mesmerized by the set.

Look at that thing! It was a massive display of the stars and stripes. Fields of blue! Stars! America!

Now I am old enough, and interested in politics enough, to have some memory of debates going back to at least the mid-1970s, and I was thinking I had never seen anything quite like this. I didn’t even know if I had seen such a display just four years ago (or was it just three?).

A quick tour of the images from past presidential debates was illustrative. From the first debate in 1960 between Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy until the 1990s, the decor behind the candidates was actually rather subdued. We’ve compiled a little slideshow for you here.

I know that advancements in digital technology has made a lot of this possible. But, as they say, just because you can doesn’t mean that you should.

The “debates”, as we all know, are a joke; a weak framework for moderators and politicians to strut their stuff, each to their own whims, demonstrating their general disregard for substance and heft.

I know that CNN has been called “liberal” -- which is another way of saying that you are anti-American.

But, really, fellas, you protest too much. I am not the first, nor will I be the last, to ask if there has got to be a better way for us to listen to those running for office.

A good first step, it seems to me, is to not dwarf candidates for the presidency of the United States in a blinding storm of digital patriotic peacock feathers.