If You Can’t Say Anything Nice, Participate In a Presidential Candidates’ Debate

presidential debate picture

I’m not sure what the mothers of Donald Trump, Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio would say, but my mother would have been appalled at the substance of the most recent Republican presidential candidates’ debate.  She repeated to me ad nauseum as I was growing up, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”  Given the tenor of the tenth Republican “debate” of this campaign, there would have been a great deal of on air silence if Mom’s directive had been followed.

To call this spectacle a debate is really stretching it.  The dictionary leads us to believe that a debate is a formal discussion on a particular topic in a public forum where opposing arguments are put forth.  Undeniably The Donald, Ted and Marco were speaking publicly as the “debate” was carried live on national TV.  And there was definitely arguing going on.  Was it formal?  Well, there were rules, but the event had more the air of a free for all than a scholarly discussion, including whistling, whooping and cheering from the audience members..  And the topic?  Best I can determine, the topic was what a Bozo an opposing candidate was.

I had friends in high school who were on the debate team.  They were academic types who were capable of presenting reasoned, logical and calm arguments for their position.   These teenagers  strove to make their points with finesse not verbal fists.   Debates in which high school students participate through their schools  are night and day different from those in which the Republican presidential candidates take part. The former are events were order and rules control; the latter are events where chaos and egos are at the wheel.

Apparently there is an art to debate, and basic rules for debating are generally recognized.  Strict rules of conduct are to be followed.  Without exception, the resources I reviewed to bone up on debate all stated that shouting is not a recognized strategy.  One source expressly stated that a debate is “not a shouting match.”  Another site opined that the best debate style was to keep calm and present points in a clear speaking voice and “definitely not to shout.”  Clearly, The Donald, Ted and Marco didn’t read these debate resources or, if they did, in their infinite wisdom chose to thumb their noses at them.  Why have a reasoned discussion when you can shout over each other and trade insults?

Rather than setting forth their  positions on key issues–such as the economy, immigration reform, etc.– the three top candidates spent time attacking each other.  Civilized Dr. Ben Carson was ignored because he didn’t sink to this level.  He did regret the lack of attention and humorously asked, “Can someone attack me please?”


Regardless of the content of the debate, voters did learn quite a bit.  Here’s what I was able to gather:

–Cruz is a “basket case” per Donald Trump.

–Trump only thinks Palestinians are “a real estate deal” per Cruz.

–Trump repeats himself per Rubio.

–Trump has a history of hiring illegal immigrants per Rubio.

–Rubio has hired “no one” per Trump.

–Cruz is a “liar” per Trump.

–Rubio is a “choke artist” per Trump.

rubio debate

Wow!  Do any of these “debaters” present a presidential image based on such kindergartenlike  exchanges of insults?

Can you imagine if the father of our country had been required to debate a challenger for President?  Do you think George Washington would’ve said, “You know, I cannot tell a lie.  But my opponent is lying through his wooden teeth!”  In 1858 Abraham Lincoln actually did take part in a series of seven debates with opponent Sen. Stephen A Douglas.  Unless I was asleep in history class that day, I don’t recall learning anything about Honest Abe winning the election because he out insulted Sen. Douglas in a debate.  Mr. Lincoln didn’t spew that the “Little Giant” was too short to be president or that Sen. Douglas choked and couldn’t get Mary Todd to marry him much less get elected president.  (Yes, Mary married up, going from dating short Stephen to lofty Lincoln!)

Lincoln debate

Since 1976 general election debates between presidential candidates have been a part of the presidential campaigns.  Perhaps it is time to rethink the value of this activity.  Are these debates really allowing voters to make an informed decision as to who is the man/woman for the job? Or are they just scaring the heck out of us because we know we can’t choose “none of the above”?  Hey!  The question whether debates are a positive contribution to voters in an election campaign would make a great debate topic–for high schoolers who follow strict debate guidelines, don’t yell and take either an affirmative/negative position on the issue itself and not an opposing debater.

And do we really need ten+ debates?  Seeing these candidates so much (overexposure?) may have a negative backlash.  Makes me think of the saying that “Familiarity breeds contempt.” I am not looking forward to yet another “debate” much less four more years of these type antics when the winner occupies the White House.  How many more months of this torture must we endure before the general election puts us out of our negative campaign misery?








Practical Presents For People Presented In People


It’s the most worrisome time of the year. Christmas is rapidly approaching, and the deadline is looming for picking out just the right present. Perfection may be setting the bar a tad too high. Avoiding a present that bombs may be a more attainable goal.

Let’s admit it. Each of us has received that head shaking, eye rolling, “What were they thinking of?” gift at some point in life. While I’ve forgotten the gifts relatives sent that I oohed and aahed over as a child, I’ll never forget the awful gift sent by an out of state aunt who shall remain nameless to avoid bloodshed within the bloodline. For some unknown reason, she thought that my siblings and I would be over the moon about receiving socks for Christmas. Yes, I said SOCKS. These weren’t fancy socks with any particular design or theme. No, sir. These were just plain and simple socks. Give my aunt a “P” for “practical” but not for “perfect.”  Needed?  Yes.  Nice?  No kid in his/her right mind would think so.  But the present did get used.


Not that I am in a gift-giving relationship with any of these people, but I’ve given some thought to the practical presents that I’d buy for some famous folks. Their reaction might be like mine to the socks I received, but methinks these gifts are quite apropos and needed.  On my shopping list would be the following:

1.  Donald Trump–a mouthguard.  No, he doesn’t play basketball, but this presidential candidate’s often inflammatory and outrageous statements indicate that he needs something to restrain his mouth, at least long enough for his brain to be engaged before he opens it.

2.  Caitlyn Jenner–her picture on a box of cereal.  She’s not an athlete like her alter ego, Bruce, but she has broken new ground with her gender change.  How about her likeness on a box of SHEaties?

3,  Lamar Odom–a name tag.  This athlete’s name is well known to the world for his basketball prowess and his marriage to one of the K sisters.  However, due to his cocaine snorting, he can’t always remember who he is and may need a handy prompt.


4.  Barack Obama–a gift certificate for a transition assistance program.  He’s the sitting president now, but he’s also a lame duck.  The clock Is ticking for his eviction from the White House.  What to do next?  From Obamacare he’ll switch to Obamawhere?

5.  Alex Skarlatos–a recording of “Love Train.”  This American hero took action against a terrorist on a train.  He then rode his resulting fame to a gig on “Dancing With The Stars.”  Why not put that fancy footwork he learned to use advocating for peace through a meaningful dance to the O’Jay’s “Love Train?”

6.  Josh Duggar–an Internet filter.  His family rose to fame on a cable channel show, but he spent more time trolling for hookups via Ashley Madison or viewing porn than he did viewing wholesome fare such as “19 Kids And Counting.”  The key is selectivity in what you’re watching, Josh.

7.  Tom Brady–a pump.  What better way to avoid controversies such as Deflategate than to have your own personal pump to keep those pigskins at the proper pressure?


8.  Jared Fogle–a  scale.  We all know the ex-Subway pitchman lost a huge amount of weight by eating at Subway.  With his predilection for child porn and sex with youngsters, Jared’s continued to lose; however, this time it is his job as Subway pitchman, his wife, his family, his freedom, etc.  Perhaps he should have weighed his decisions more carefully.

9.  Kim Kardashian–a serving tray.  Mrs. West’s bare bottom was seen from east to west coast on the Internet holding up a champagne bottle.  Poor thing apparently spent all her untold wealth on clothes she doesn’t wear and had nowhere else  to put her bottle of bubbly. Obviously her newborn son is the only Saint in that household.


10.  Jennifer Garner–a nanny cam.  As if splitting from hubby Ben wasn’t bad enough, Jennifer learned that Ben had been a very bad boy with their nanny.  Forget keeping an eye on the kids, you’d better be watching what the nanny is up to!

11.  Dr. Ben Carson–a campaign t-shirt.  The good doctor always appears well dressed, but a political campaign screams for a t-shirt to attract attention and support.  His could read, “Separated conjoined twins and can put this country back together!”

12.  Mark Zuckerberg–a new social media site.  Now that the Facebook CEO has added a bundle of joy to his family to go along with the bundle of money he’s made on Facebook, Mark needs to expand his offering to increase his earning potential. Raising kids, especially girls, can be very expensive.   He ought to have Baby Facebook where adorable pictures of tots can be posted.  Daughter Max can be the poster child of Baby Facebook.  It’s never too soon to get your child involved in the family business.

Thankfully, I didn’t have to spend my 12 days of Christmas rounding up excellent gifts for the elite.  While my ruminations may be humorous, the bottom line is perceptive.  Instead of giving folks what they say that want, it may be better in the long run to present  them with something fitting and beneficial which will be used and not mothballed or re-gifted. Ho! Ho! Ho! Meaningful Christmas Presents!







Let’s Talk Turkey


This week Americans will celebrate Thanksgiving, a national holiday in the United States since 1863. Thanksgiving is pretty much synonymous with turkey, the bird gracing the platter in the middle of the holiday table. But this year, the centerpiece of the Thanksgiving gathering may not be poultry but politics, i.e., discussions (arguments?) about the area of the world in which Turkey is located. That’s Turkey with a capital “T” as in the country and not a bird Butterball is hawking. I mean what family gathering isn’t complete without heated debate between blood relatives who make each other’s blood boil with opposite stances on hot button political issues?

In case you have been living under a rock, perhaps one the size of, say, Plymouth Rock, it may behoove you to learn that hordes of Syrian refugees are in Europe and looking for a new home. Uncle Sam’s neighborhood has been mentioned as a possibility. Some kind-hearted and compassionate Americans have become cheerleaders for Welcome Wagon and can’t wait to deliver a nice, piping hot casserole to these refugees upon their arrival. Other, more security conscious Americans, are urging that we pull up the drawbridge to protect the womenfolk and children from murderous heathens who could blow us to kingdom come while we are at a concert or out to dinner.  Gosh darn.  Now while eating our Thanksgiving meal we not only have to decide what kind of pie to have for dessert (pumpkin? pecan? apple?), but we have to take a position on life-altering decisions for thousands of Syrian refugees?

Shifting the table talk to the presidential race is not an option.  That change will lead right back into the same debate because, of course, a candidate’s stance  on foreign policy issues is a key consideration.  Just ask poor Ben Carson.  He has been shot down like a Thanksgiving turkey, plunging from his #1 spot in the polls.  Why?  Perhaps it is because, as one of his top advisers claims, the good doctor is unable to process “one iota of intelligent information about the Middle East.”   That’s a bit harsh; he’s a neurosurgeon for crying out loud.  I doubt Middle East Affairs 101 was an elective in med school.  And how many of us could pick Syria out on a map if asked to do so?  (HINT:  It borders Turkey.)


Instead of attempting to solve the world’s problems, maybe we Americans should just take the day of Thanksgiving to well, simply give thanks.  The fact that we are alive and (relatively) safe (for the moment) is reason enough to thank our Creator.  If we knew an iota about terrorism, we’d be thanking our Creator EVERY DAY for our safety.  Think ISIS is all we have to worry about?  HA!  The U.S. Department of State has an extensive “menu” of FTO’s (Foreign Terrorist Organizations) which it  has helpfully listed for us on its website.  Choose from approximately 60 named groups including Abu Nidal, Hamas, Boko Haram (currently ranked the #1 deadliest FTO), the Real (as opposed to the fake) Irish Republican Army, Shining Path, and the Palestinian Liberation Front, to give you security nightmares in addition to indigestion from your Thanksgiving feast.

The menu choice is yours this week.  You can have dinner with political debate on the side.  Or you can embrace the essence of the holiday and count your blessings while consuming copious comestibles (and presumably not counting your calories).  Let’s take time to be  thankful for life and provisions–whether white or dark meat; peacefully co-exist with your relatives and perhaps an annoying in-law for the day by avoiding divisive topics.   Pray for peace in and around Turkey while having a  piece of turkey.IMP0190013