Thursday, December 06, 2007

Democratic debate on NPR

Normally I can't tolerate NPR. Something in my genetic make-up causes me to swerve into the median divide on the freeway any time the "oh so serious-acoustic guitar" bumper music smoothes the wrinkles between segments. And what's with the NPR tone of voice? Commentators barely speak above a controlled, tight-waisted skirt whisper. The men rumble at low pitches, barely breaking the alto range. When they're alarmed by some disturbance south of the border, the ciudad in question is prrrrronounced with appropriate tequila accent. Ay caramba!

Call me pop culture [Hey Pop Cultcha], but I need more caffeine in my talk radio. That's why I stuck it out with Rush for so many years even after uncrossing the wires in my right wing brain circuitry.

So let's just point out that it takes a considerably interesting story to draw me in (which "All Things Considered" rarely is--the hammer dulcimer? its construction?... Consider fewer things NPR).

The Democratic debates made me stop my scrolling radio search. And because the debate was on radio, I was undistracted by Kucinich's bulging pockets (ht: Colbert) or thinning hair.

What happened as I drove through the city listening to Barak, Hilary, Dennis and Senators Biden and Edwards (and some other names)? I lost some of my enthusiasm for Obama (just not able to tackle the issues memorably), gained some respect for Clinton (her baritone certainly helps her gravitas) and found myself positively rooting for Dennis "speaks two languages" Kucinich. There's a guy campaigning like he's got nothing to lose, which, in fact, he hasn't.

Kucinich showed me through his answers to the debate questions that I had swung, like a swing voter should. I agreed with his attitude about immigration, for instance. He stated what we all know: we aren't going to deport illegals and they fill jobs we need filled. But we also should know that they deserve better—a pathway to citizenship, proper treatment as employees, and the potential to grow into better jobs.

One of the questions posed by a listener:
When I call a government agency, I am instructed to press '1' if I want English and '2' if I want Spanish. When is our government going to deal with its citizens in English, the national language? When will they stop catering to illegals using Spanish?
Each debater had the chance to respond, but Kucinich was terrific. He jumped on this one. Apparently Ohio had wanted to pass an "English only" law back when he worked in the state legislature. He defeated the bill when he showed the congress that the founding documents of the state were written in German.

His point? That the strength of this country lies in the diversity of immigrant influences and the eventual assimilation into our nation. He went further, When will Americans stop being so isolationist, English-centric in their outlook on the world? He passionately argued for Americans to study foreign languages, to become interested in the world beyond our borders, to recognize and admit that we are now an interdependent, globalized world. When the two towers fell, he said the Washington Post had to advertise for Arabic speakers. Why? Because Americans have not learned that they need to know and understand people beyond its borders.

I loved his passion for this topic. It was one of the few responses that drew real fire from a candidate. Part of what I loved about it is that he took a genuine stand (that English only is not just unrealistic, but un-American). He then pushed the listeners to consider how they have turned their backs on the world beyond our borders yet have inherited a country founded by immigrants (our ancestors). I liked his emphasis on the centrality of globalization.

I wouldn't vote for Kucinich. What I wish for is someone to show that kind of "no holds barred" risky opinion who is also articulate.

Clinton earned a couple points in my book when she was asked (and answered first) "What don't you know?" She responded, "Oh my goodness. All kinds of things. There are loads of things I don't know!" And she chuckled. Not one other candidate admitted not knowing. They used the question as a way to show what they wanted to achieve in office and then "didn't know" if they could help Americans see how great Americans are, or how powerful they can be, blah, blah, blah.

I can't remember a single thing Obama said. I remember Edwards' accent and nothing else. The rest were indistinguishable from each other.

Twill be an interesting season...


Ampersand said...

"I can't remember a single thing Obama said. I remember Edwards' accent and nothing else. The rest were indistinguishable from each other."

That does sum it up rather nicely...

Dalissa 365 said...

I listened to part of the debate as well and the one phrase I can actually remember is one from Obama in reference to the US, "We need to get our fiscal house in order." I forget what the question was unfortunately but this is where Clinton lost points for me because when she answered the same question, after Obama, she used his same exact phrase. In fact, she did it twice... the second time being in reference to immigration and the making an accesible pathway for immigrants to become citizens... I can't remember the exact phrase for that question, though.