Monday, July 31, 2006

Political Bullshit

On July 25, 2006, New York State Democratic gubernatorial candidates, Tom Suozzi and Eliot Spitzer, participated in a televised debate held at the Schimmel Theater at Pace University. In his opening introduction, moderator Dominic Carter, explained that during the latter part of the hour-long debate, "we will end...with a series of lightning round questions where the candidates can only answer yes or no to the questions that I will ask them."

The audience, both at the Schimmel Theater and at home, would therefore be treated to the simplest of answers when it came to difficult questions. There would be no fuzzy unclear babbling on, no talking around an issue. The audience would accept only the most direct of answers.

On the contrary.

Take this exchange during the "lightning round," with Carter, the questioner, putting a rather complicated issue in front of Suozzi:

Q. Mr. Suozzi, can you achieve universal health care in the state — again, universal health care in the state — if you are elected governor?

SUOZZI. You want a yet or no for that?

Q. Yes or no.

SUOZZI. I can’t say I’ll try?

Q. Yes or no.

SUOZZI. Could I say —

Q. Yes or no.


Q. Yes or no, Mr. Suozzi.

The audience awaited an answer. Suozzi was essentially given two options. The first, the more rational, would be to admit that it would be a huge, near-impossible feat to provide universal health care to the state of New York, and that the least he could do would be to attempt, given the limitations of his power as governor, to implement such a system. Or, he could take the easy way out, the "political" way out, and answer that yes, he would succeed in providing universal health care.

SUOZZI. I’ll try. I can’t answer that.

Q. Yes or no, Mr. Suozzi.


Q. Mr. Spitzer?


At this point the audience cheered, roaring in support of Spitzer's positive answer, indicating that what they indeed wanted was to be delivered empty promises by men in suits. What they wanted was some old school political bullshit.

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