The Debate Dogs That Didn’t Bark
The debates are over. It’s worth taking a look at what they didn’t cover, which is sometimes as telling as what was said. In 2000 – as I noted in my first widely-read blog post a decade ago, and as Romney noted last night – the subject of terrorism was not even raised, although it would come to dominate Bush’s tenure in office. Some things got less play than you might expect; perhaps the single biggest surprise of last night was that nobody mentioned Benjamin Netanyahu by name, but there was plenty of discussion of Israel (if surprisingly little on the “peace process”). Others got downplayed for obvious reasons; there was discussion of Obamacare at the first debate in particular, but little direct controversy on the individual mandate, perhaps unsurprisingly given Romney’s record.
But here’s a list of the issues that didn’t get discussed at all in any of the debates, in no particular order:
1-The Federal Reserve/monetary policy/QE3/the next Fed chairman
2-The EU and the Eurozone crisis, other than the use of Greece as a cautionary tale. Indeed, Europe in general was largely ignored, in marked contrast to the Bush-Kerry debates in 2004.
3-The descent of Mexico into chaos, other than Romney’s brief discussion – cut off by Candy Crowley – of Operation Fast & Furious.
4-Same-sex marriage. The only reference to any gay-rights issue was a brief mention by Obama of repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.
5-Climate change/global warming/cap and trade
6-Racial preferences; Romney discussed affirmative action for women, but the subject didn’t otherwise come up.
7-Welfare reform and Obama’s waivers on the issue
8-The death penalty
9-Campaign finance reform
10-Guantanamo and detainee policy
11-Interrogation policy
12-Surveillance policy
13-The TSA/airport security
14-The War on Drugs
15-Sanctions on Cuba
16-U.S. relations with India
17-No Child Left Behind, although there was quite a lot of discussion of education.
18-Stem cell research
19-The growth of executive power, including Obama’s use of executive orders and “czars”
20-H-1B visas, guest worker programs and the border fence with Mexico.
21-Right-to-work and public employee collective bargaining.
22-The BP oil spill
23-Evolution (yes, I know, this is only asked during GOP debates)

17 thoughts on “The Debate Dogs That Didn’t Bark”

  1. Both my MLB teams made it to the World Series! I feel like I can’t lose.
    The exact opposite feeling of the Presidential election, where not only can I not win, neither can the nation. Again.

  2. Number 7 on your list, why perpetuate a lie that is based on race baiting? There is vast documentation that proves this that #7 is a blatant lie, why repeat it?

  3. If you think Obama took no action on welfare, you need to expand your reading list more.
    Robert Rector, one of the fathers of welfare reform, explains how the HHS directive claims the power to waive work requirements by regulatory fiat.
    As discussed here and here, the GAO concluded after analysis of the relevant statutes that the Administration had unlawfully exceeded its authority in enacting this rule without a vote by Congress.
    Unfortunately, the major media has refused to cover the GAO’s determination, leaving people like yourself sadly uninformed on the matter.

  4. Nice try, but your response is a bunch of BS. What the reform does is pretty simple ““Each state has to say what they will do and how that reform … will either increase employment or lead to better employment” of recipients.”
    Also, should I point out that the States requested the change. So when a conservative state like Utah says the changes will give them greater flexibility that they need in removing people from welfare, somehow you say otherwise. Then again you could be right if we all ignore TANF-ACF-IM-2012-03
    As for # 20 on your list, the world is once again changing. as an example the high tech world less visas are need b/c thanks to the internet and modern infrastructures in other world markets. The need to bring talent in on Visas has waned.
    #13 who started the TSA again???
    #22 BP oil spill, okay more drilling please or if there is an accident we can say the companies at fault are being shaken down.

  5. The VP candidates touched on it re Roe. It certainly was not a major area of discussion.
    Jim – I’d still love to hear Obama make explicit the Democrats’ contempt for anyone who disagrees on that issue, and have him forced to say how far he’d go to stamp out the teaching of ‘creation science.’ The Democrats get all the advantages of playing one side of that wedge by having it asked in GOP primary debates, but their own candidates never get put on the spot. Any issue that’s fair to ask one party is fair to ask both.

  6. Sucks when goofballs run your party and your debates and your candidates have to either dance around an issue of fact or throw down on their religiosity to see who can deny it the most heartily. I would love for the Democratic Party to come out of suppoting the fact of evolution as well. You can teach all the creation “science” bologna you want, at your church or in your privately funded schools. I have no problem with that (other than teaching people hogwash). It’s hardly a topic for a real debate though.

  7. “The Democrats get all the advantages of playing one side of that wedge by having it asked in GOP primary debates, but their own candidates never get put on the spot”
    Crank – How big of a disadvantage would that really be for Dems? I have to think the creationist-Democrat demographic is pretty small.
    If he was smart, Obama would simply respond that creationism/intelligent design isn’t science and shouldn’t be taught as science – but he wouldn’t do anything to stamp it out – local control of education and all. Other than that, I wouldn’t pander to an audience that is stuck in the dark ages.

  8. I take it back – maybe it is a wedge issue. My last post assumed that the percentage of creationists in the US was fairly small. I was wrong about that. If the polls cited in the wikipedia article on creationism are any guide, quite a large percentage believe in creationism.

  9. A lot depends on how you phrase the question. Many Catholics would say they agree with divine Creation and the intelligent design of species, for example, yet would not have any quarrel with the teaching of scientific theories of evolution.
    Let’s ask: what percentage of African-Americans believe in the Biblical account of Creation? What are the odds that those are Republicans? What percentage of Hispanics? What percentage of unionized workers? Single women? I assure you, there are voters out there whose views on this issue are held in contempt by the media and elected Democrats, yet who are expected every Election Day to turn out and loyally pull the Democratic lever. If it’s fair game to ask Republicans questions that potentially alienate them from their base, it’s fair game to ask Democrats as well, and see how they handle it – perhaps especially in Democratic primaries.
    I’m not saying, BTW, that there was time to explore all 23 items on this list or that it’s a scandal they were uncovered. It’s just interesting to look at all the things that created great hue and cry at various points yet never came up.

  10. Now that I know the numbers involved, no argument here that it is a wedge issue. And the question is definitely tricky, but I was surprised to see the level of support for the Biblical account of creationism in the US. It’s this view, in my mind, which makes it a real wedge issue.
    And there are two aspects of “creationism” that are rightly criticized apart from any political motivations: (1) with regard to creationism in general, the attempt to have it taught as science in public schools; and (2) any belief that the biblical account is accurate.
    The biblical account is the only one that science can settle in any way. The others really are a matter faith and beyond science. It’s not so much that evolution has been “proven,” but the lack of any compelling scientific evidence of creationism. If the biblical account were true, archeologists would be finding modern human skulls suddenly appearing in the fossil record around the time that Genesis is assumed to have occurred. That is the real dagger in the heart.
    Incidentally, I did take evolution at HC in my great quest to find science classes that didn’t have labs that interfered with track practice. It was a great class, and the professor made the argument above quite strongly.

  11. Did you take that class first semester freshman year? I did, I’m trying to remember if we were in that one together.
    I do think you need a health skepticism toward science in general and the people who try to substitute it for religion in particular, eg the people who have the Darwin Fish on their car.
    A lot of the evolution flap is just a subset of my larger point about collectivism. If people can send their kids to whatever school they want and have them taught the way their parents want them taught, we don’t have these controversies, nor the ones over sex ed. It’s when you insist that the government dictate a uniform education for everyone that people get into fights over its content.
    I don’t especially like dealing with it as a wedge issue, but it could help the GOP just because so many liberals are just unable to control their rage and scorn on the subject.

  12. “Creationism” and “evolution” are terms that can refer to many different things as understood by the masses, which is why polls on the question often yield strange results. For example, I can easily say I’m a creationist. What I really mean by that, though, is that “I believe a self-existent being created the physical universe, including the earth.” I don’t mean by it that I believe the world was created 6,000 years ago in 6 24 hour periods.

  13. I’m not sure school choice solves that particular problem. Unless you want to do away with accreditation, the fight would simply move to a different battlefield. Besides, do conservatives really want to encourage a lot of diversity in education? What happened to “core curriculum,” shared national values and all that? I’ve never found any of the school choice arguments terribly compelling.
    I get pretty annoyed with Darwin fish crowd as well. It’s more than a little obnoxious, and it’s nowhere near a substitute for religion. In fact, many of that crowd, if you pushed them far enough, fall back to positions that are intellectually lazy, if not unscientific. Remember the commenter in an earlier post that insisted that the universe was just “always” there? Where would science be with that kind of attitude?

  14. If you are talking about debating the politics of evolution and what comes from that discussion I guess that would be a debate topic if not necessarily rising to the allged level of POTUS debate. Evolution has been proved. It is not in doubt. What could be open for interpretation would be the theory that explains evolution. In this case being Darwin’s Natural Selection versus whatever other theory one would like to propose. Creationism would be one of those possible theories. However, given that it lacks a shred of actual evidence the debate centers entirely on one’s view of a god. The debate is not about the factual matter of evolution. It’s about the ancillary stuff that goes along with it.

  15. salience — look it up. People don’t elect a president over evolution because there are more pressing issues, like the economy.

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