Snow Lion Tiny is the pride of the winter landscape as an overnight dusting of snow retreats in the early afternoon sun.
"These two look like Lincoln and Douglas next to what we see on TV now," emails our Iowa correspondent, referring to a video of the late Bill Buckley debating U.S. foreign policy with Noam Chomsky on Firing Line in 1969:
It makes one somewhat depressed about the intellectual level of our national debates today compared to forty years ago.
"With WFB, I doubt whether it really was a true debate," notes our imail correspondent:
She: Bill knew how to level 'em, in the most gracious way.
We: Totally. The hapless Noam was left gasping for air.
Fun to watch, unlike the national televised yawners of our day. As we blogged a coupla years back in our post "After you, my dear Alphonse" re the 2000 vice-presidential debate between Dick Cheney and Joseph Lieberman:
The issues don't change much from decade to decade, and it's fascinating to watch how arguments pro or con a particular point go back and forth between parties depending upon the current occupant of the White House. One thing that has changed between those halcyon pre-chad, pre-9/11 days and our Fahrenheit 911/527's/MoveOn, campaign-finance-reform-loophole era is the tenor of the debate. C-Span rebroadcast Cheney's and Lieberman's oh-so-civilized and -- in Donald Rumsfeld's term -- helpful debate last night. Low key, measured and rational. Who knew there were such things in this day and age?
"Campaign finance 'reform' has been enormously destructive to civil society, in my opinion," commented Glenn Reynolds at the time -- which it has -- but if "everyone is effected mostly by their enemies," the more alert among the citizenry have moved far beyond getting "their news" from what we used to call the mainstream media. Likewise, candidates are using the airwaves and cyberspace in exciting new workarounds that go over the anchors' heads, leaving three-hour formal debates moderated by Tim and Brian and Chris in the dust. Today, for example, the two frontrunners were taking advantage of cable's 24/7 news maw, thrusting and parrying back and forth from their individual campaign trails with biting, witty soundbites, practically in real time. Lively and informative. That's entertainment:
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) accused Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) of making ill-informed comments about Iraq and al-Qaeda in Tuesday night's Democratic presidential debate, signaling that a general-election brawl between the colleagues would center in part on who has the foreign policy experience to lead a country at war.
Despite McCain's war-hero status and years of foreign policy experience, Obama made it clear that he will not back down from such a fight, issuing a quick rebuke of McCain that linked him to President Bush and the war in Iraq.
In Honest Abe's day it was a series of three-hour formal debates held at seven sites throughout Illinois -- one in each of the Congressional Districts where the two candidates were competing for a US Senate seat -- that caught the public's imagination. Wikipedia:
The debates in Freeport, Quincy and Alton drew especially large numbers of attendees from neighboring states, as the issue of slavery was of monumental importance to citizens across the nation. Newspaper coverage of the debates was intense, as major papers from Chicago sent stenographers to create complete texts of each debate. Then newspapers across the nation reprinted the full text of the debates as published by the Chicago papers. Interestingly, newspapers that supported Douglas edited his speeches to remove any errors made by the stenographers and to correct grammatical errors, while they left Lincoln's speeches in the rough form in which they had been transcribed. In the same way, Republican papers edited Lincoln's speeches, but left the Douglas texts as reported.
Human nature hasn't changed a whit. It's the technologies, stupid.
Update: At Modulator's Friday Ark, it's the animals, stupid.
Update II: At Dr. Sanity's Carnival of the Insanities, it's the nutcakes, stupid.
Update III: At Momma Grace & Company's Carnival of the Cats #207, it's the cat's meow, stupid.