September 30, 1988 |
Depending on whom one listens to, the great debate of the 1988 presidential campaign didn't come off because: (A) Former Mayor Frank L. Rizzo is afraid of state Sen. Vincent J. Fumo (Fumo's explanation). (B) Rizzo is too busy (Rizzo's explanation). "I don't know why he's afraid to discuss the issues of this campaign with me," Fumo said yesterday of Rizzo. "I'm sorry to hear he is so busy. I thought he was just sitting around grabbing a fat retirement check from the city's taxpayers.
May 21, 1987 |
On May 20, 1787, 200 years ago yesterday, George Washington sat in Philadelphia and wrote to a Virginia friend that the federal convention called for May 14, 1787, had not yet begun because "not more than four states were represented yesterday. " ". . . These delays greatly impede public measures," Washington wrote, "and serve to sour the temper of the punctual members, who do not like to idle away their time. " The convention did not begin until May 25. Some tempers soured even further after it began.
October 11, 2002 |
Congress' great debate over Iraq began with two of the Senate's gray eminences invoking Caesar and brandishing the Constitution, passionately arguing questions of war. It ended with a whimper - the outcome a foregone conclusion and the five days of debate bearing little resemblance to the toe-to-toe contest between Sens. John W. Warner (R., Va.) and Robert C. Byrd (D., W.Va.) that marked its beginning last Friday afternoon. As the House and Senate gave their backing, the doubters, the worriers and the potential opponents had convinced themselves that President Bush needed Congress to authorize the use of force against Iraq to win the U.N. Security Council to his side.
May 5, 1989 |
Students involved in street brawls and attempted rape, manipulative university administrators, unscrupulous coaches - what, another story about Oklahoma football? No. It's the Kenmont College debate team, the focus of the new movie "Listen to Me. " Debate coach Charlie Nichols (Roy Scheider) tells the Kenmont squad at the beginning of the season that "debate, as practiced here, is meaner than football. " He isn't kidding. Just to prove it, he gruffly tells a Kenmont girl with a leg brace that she'd better not use her bum leg to exact sympathy from the judges.
January 15, 1991 |
One thing on which everyone could agree in the tense hours leading up to the deadline for war in the Persian Gulf was that Congress - that familiar whipping boy - had dealt with the issue of authorizing the use of force in a manner befitting the gravity of the subject. The weekend debate was civil and somber, always serious and often eloquent. Senators and representatives dealt respectfully with each others' arguments and showed compassion for the anguish even their opponents felt.
April 15, 1996
THERE ARE TWO SIDES TO CONSIDER ON THE 'GREAT SCHOOL DEBATE' Rather than furthering a reasoned, informed, factual debate about fiscal and educational issues facing the School District, what the Daily News seems to understand as a "great debate" has been "great" only in redundancy, opinion and distortion. The arrogant puffery and self-importance of Zack Stalberg's column (April 8) about advancing the so-called debate was staggering. On the same day Yvette Ousley's two-page so-called news story about standards contained neither news nor standards, but was blessedly contradicted by the following day's editorial.
January 23, 1997 |
At Henry IV's coronation, the archbishop anointed the king with oil said to have been given to Thomas Becket by the Virgin Mary (and the archbishop found the king's hair aswarm with lice). Republics, favoring simplicity, have less exotic civic liturgies - no stately ranks of bishops or oceans of ermine and silk. Republics rely on rhetoric to quicken the public pulse. America's pulse probably stayed steady during President Clinton's bland Inaugural Address, but he could not expect to excite while declaring the end of political excitements.
June 24, 2001 |
Republicans are supposed to be the party of states' rights. Democrats are supposed to be the party of the national government. So why is it that in the great debate over a patients' bill of rights, it's the Democrats who insist that patients should be able to sue their HMOs in state courts and Republicans, including President Bush, who see suits in state courts as an abomination? It may have something to do with the fact that patients generally get a better break and bigger settlements in state courts - the courts that are, as the Republicans would say on so many other issues, "closest to the people.
September 26, 1988 |
As television, last night's Great Debate I was ultimately about as satisfying as a nine-inning pitchers' duel with lots of throwing that was hard, high and wild, some nibbling at the corners, a vigorous distribution of garbage hits and errors - and no scoring. Baseball contests of that type have their own peculiar fascination when you watch them, and there was something of that same riveting tension evident throughout those 90 minutes. But those who tuned into the debate came in expecting something decisive to come out at the end - or, at the very least, some evidence of triumph or collapse from one of the two combatants.
September 29, 1988 |
Maybe I'm a pointy-head, but in the debate I saw Sunday night, Michael Dukakis knocked George Bush around the ring for 90 minutes. Not clear out of the ring, mind you. Dukakis did not elicit from Bush a media-certified "gaffe. " Which is why the TV referees declined to declare a winner. They are required to set this ridiculously high "objective" standard for victory to avoid the charge of subjective, i.e., liberal, bias. Unless a candidate declares Poland free of Soviet domination (poor Gerald Ford, he was just a bit ahead of his time)