By Dave Simpson, Columnist
OLD NORMAL: The one thing you almost always hear in the endless political debate in this country is the need for a “national dialog.”
I wish I had a dollar for every time some pundit, politician or activist called for a “national discussion” of this or that societal challenge, as if we weren’t already talking problems to death. As if pundits, politicians and activists don’t get paid plenty for talking problems to death.
It’s like that line from “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.” On the subject of Butch talking, Sundance says, “That’s what your good at, Butch!”
And yet, in what was arguably the greatest American achievement of my lifetime – putting men on the moon – it started with a challenge from President Kennedy, followed by a decade of calculations, invention, determination, and some tragedy. They didn’t talk it to death. They just did it.
It was only after they got to the moon that the politicians talked it to death, bent on spending the money back here on Earth. (And how did that work out?)
We fought this country’s bloodiest war over slavery. In 1964 and ’65, with the help of Republicans – who are now routinely vilified as racist – our country passed historic civil rights and voting rights legislation. Affirmative action programs were put in place.
And yet we’re now told by The New York Times that the very foundation of our country is racist. “Systemic racism” is the new blanket slur.
The cop who killed George Floyd is charged with second-degree murder. The cop who shot and killed a fleeing man in Georgia is charged with first-degree murder, and could face the death penalty. What’s left to discuss? Summary execution of cops who are accused?
But like Sundance says, talking is what politicians, pundits and activists are good at, so we need another serious discussion to begin, yet another national dialog. When was the last time a national dialog solved anything?
As the old saying goes, “Money talks. Bull… (let’s just leave it at bull) walks.”
The one thing that never seems to spark a meaningful national dialog is the huge debt we have heaped on our kids and grand kids. The main difference between our spendthrift political parties today is whether to add another $1 trillion to our debt, or $3 trillion.
I didn’t think I’d ever hear the number $1 trillion described as not nearly enough. Until now.
Don’t hold your breath waiting for that national dialog.
NEW NORMAL: The very essence of a sharp national dialog is the presidential debate.
And yet, we’re hearing Democrats say that Joe Biden should not debate President Trump. Joe Lockhart, President Clinton’s former press secretary, said last week that Biden absolutely should not debate. New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman says Biden should only debate if Trump first releases his tax records, and the debate is monitored by “fact checkers.” Writer Elizabeth Drew and comedian Jimmy Fallon joined the don’t debate chorus this week.
Anyone who has seen Biden recently knows, however, the reason he will have his hands full in a debate. He can’t string two sentences together without faltering or committing an embarrassing gaff.
Simply put, Trump would be on him like a duck on a June bug.
The sad fact is that Biden – who ate vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan alive in their 2012 debate, which pundit Britt Hume said was the most “disrespectful” debate performance he had ever seen – is not nearly as articulate as he once was. Biden was all over Ryan in that debate, repeatedly demanding, “C’mon man!” that anyone could oppose him and Barack Obama.
It’s not an ageist slur to recognize that Biden now has trouble expressing himself. It’s obvious.
But some of the very folks who normally want a national dialog now oppose debates.
As the saying goes, “They can argue it flat, and they can argue it round.”
AND LASTLY: I can’t imagine Democrats – who hate the president with an intensity that’s enough to blow your hat in the creek – will allow Trump to beat them twice.
They’ll use any and all means to beat him. Count on it.
Katie bar the door.