A site of satirical musings, commentary and/or rhetorical criticism of the world at large.

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Monday, October 15, 2012

Straightus Answerus Delirium

I have had an epiphany! In the days since the vice presidential debate (where Joe Biden smiled, smirked, and rolled his eyes countless times as he mopped the floor with conservative heart throb and water deprived Paul Ryan), I have discovered that bipartisanship does exist! I didn’t find it necessarily as the traditional definition of bipartisanship (i.e., a willingness to find common ground with others who possess a dissimilar point of view on the issues), but rather as an affliction common to politicians of all stripes.

Conservatives, liberals, Republicans, Democrats, it doesn’t matter. All politicians suffer from this malady: the inability to answer a question with the words yes or no. I sense what you might be thinking, namely, “Duh, Gunther!  Where the hell have you been?” Well, I’ve been here all along, but I believe I might be the first one to propose the idea that straightus answerus delirium (I named it myself; do you like it?) is not an accident of punditry, but rather an actual illness.

We observed two classic cases of the affliction during the vice presidential debate, although I fear that Ryan’s condition is worse, perhaps even terminal. Biden showed some signs of the malady, opting to parry and thrust Ryan’s unjustifiable assertions with full paragraph answers rather than a simple up or down yes or no answer. On Morning Joe the next morning, Mika Zbigniew asked a Democratic member of the House a simple question which could have been answered with yes or no; the Congressman couldn’t do it. This proves that this is truly a bipartisan sickness.

Herewith is an example of a question that can be answered with one word: “Do you support a woman’s right to choose with regards to the medical procedure known as abortion?” Possible answers could be, “Yes, in all circumstances;” “Yes, but only in cases of rape, incest or when the mother’s life is in danger;” or “No.” 

Instead, voters usually get the following: “Well, here is where I disagree with my esteemed Congressional colleague and good friend, who I will now nonetheless eviscerate his position on this vital issue and publicly display his innards for all the media to see. My position has always been the same no matter what the circumstances of the political winds blowing at any particular time. My position, while not always popular, is nonetheless an opinion that is consistent with my personal viewpoint, rooted in my deep sense of justice, Sunday school morality, and blah, blah, blah…” At this point, the debate moderator diplomatically states that the time for his answer is up and they must move on to the next question. What we, the viewing electorate, would like the moderator do is tell them what we are thinking at that moment, namely, “JESUS CHRIST! ANSWER THE F-ING QUESTION WITH A YES OR NO ALREADY!!!!!” Unfortunately, debate decorum prohibits such outbursts.  

And besides Fox and Friends would never allow the moderator to hear the end of it!

Let’s pursue Romney’s position history on the abortion issue. At one point, he said he would allow abortion in cases of rape and incest, or at least I THINK he did. Naturally, his campaign would issue a statement usually within a couple of hours with a new statement clarifying that the candidate didn’t mean this at all. More recently, he has said that there would be no laws passed in a Romney administration which would restrict abortion. Right; unfortunately, your running mate feels very passionately about this issue and do you really think he will sit idly by and let Roe v. Wade survive as the law of the land any longer than it has to?  

If Romney were truly honest with everyone, he could say that his stance on abortion allows for rape and incest, but this view is only valid on Tuesdays, Thursdays and every other Sunday. Of course, he’ll never do this; this schedule would lock him into a time frame that would not allow him to shake his Etch-A-Sketch more often. Romney, like all other political candidates, is unable to answer questions with a yes or no, and mean it.

Yes, I know, Biden didn’t offer many simple one word answers either during his debate. The vice president’s performance might have been boorish, but they were authentic. His reactions to Ryan’s assertions were genuine, and not hidden behind a mask of diplomatic decorum. Naturally, the pundits were divided in their verdicts. Liberal commentators declared Biden the winner; conservatives couldn’t bring themselves to declaring him or Ryan a winner, so they termed it a draw.

(I must go off subject briefly to note Fox commentator Charles Krauthammer’s observation about Biden’s performance. Krauthammer pronounced that Biden was “so disrespectful” to Ryan. Ah, it’s truly a day worth living in liberal America knowing that Charles Krauthammer has his knickers twisted up in a wad. Rage on, Krauthammer, rage on!)

So, now that we have identified the ailment, should we now search for a cure? Should we devote millions of research dollars and resources to cure our leaders? Should we always insist that they answer yes or no to every question we ask?

Research for a cure would probably be a waste of time. Believe it or not, politicians may be doing us a public service with their Shakespearean length soliloquies on every question we ask them. They demonstrate to us that not all problems are resolvable with black and white solutions. Our problems are a complex collage of shades of gray morals and attitudes. There is no absolute right or wrong answer for a society that is composed of so many cultural differences.  

Yes, we should continue to insist that our leaders give us the simplest answer possible, but we shouldn’t act so shocked when we don’t get a pat response. Besides, their answers have created a wonderful cottage industry within the 24/7 news cycle of media members who endlessly grouse about not getting a straight answer, and then just as endlessly speculate on what the politician actually meant by their answer.

If the pundits didn’t have these discussions, then with what would they fill our airwaves? Discussions about Lindsay Lohan’s driving follies? Paul Ryan’s insatiable thirst for water? Or whether or not someone should muzzle Vice President Joe Biden?

Straightus answerus delirium may be incurable, but - like it or not - it does enrich our political discourse.

(Thank you for reading. Another glass of water, Congressman Ryan?)


Anonymous Janey said...

Q: Is Paul Ryan smokin' hot?
A: YES!!!

Q: Should Paul Ryan be elected Vice President?
A: NO!!!

Any questions?


October 16, 2012 at 7:02 AM  

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