When is a debate not one? When it's not intended to be. When theatrical blather substitutes. When demagoguery takes center stage.
On October 11, it showed up prominently in Danville, KY. Centre College played host. ABC News correspondent Martha Raddatz moderated 90 minutes of film flam.
Unmentioned was her close Washington military/intelligence establishment ties. She supports America's right to bomb, invade, ravage, occupy, colonize, and exploit one country after another. Her loyalty got her prominence Thursday night. Call it spoils sharing for services rendered.
Like all so-called political debates, Biden/Ryan was prescripted theater. Demagoguery best describes it. Democrat and Republican candidates represent wealth, power, privilege, and imperial lawlessness.
They spurn public need, democratic values, and right over wrong. They represent the worst of a morally degenerate nation. They govern one not fit to live in.
The criminal class in Washington is bipartisan. It threatens humanity. Whoever wins or loses in November, it hardly matters. On issues mattering most, both parties are in lockstep. Ordinary people aren't served either way.
Money power runs America. Gore Vidal understood. He explained well. His comments are worth repeating.
He called America "a nation of ongoing hustlers from the prisons and disaster areas of old Europe."
"I do not think that the America System in its present state of decadence is worth preserving."
"There is only one party in the United States, the Property Party....and it has two right wings: Republican and Democrat."
He called democracy a system "where numerous elections are held at great cost without issues and with interchangeable candidates" no different from each other.
"By the time a man gets to be presidential material, he's been bought ten times over."
The same goes for vice presidential candidates. Some become presidents. It's planned that way.
No matter who governs, he said, America is "rotting away at a funereal pace. We'll have a military dictatorship pretty soon..."
He predicted the worst of all possible worlds. Bread and circuses can't conceal it. Fascism best describes it.
Mussolini called the 20th century a fascist one. It arrived in America. Huey Long once said it'll show up "wrapped in an American flag." In his book, "Friendly Fascism," Bertram Gross called Ronald Reagan its prototype ruler.
In his 1943 book, "Facts and Fascism," George Seldes explained what he called "big money and big profits in fascism."
In his 1935 novel, "It Can't Happen Here," Sinclair Lewis saw it coming in hard times. It'll be led by a charismatic, self-styled reformer/populist champion, a con man exploiting human misery.
He recounted Merzelium "Buzz" Windrip's rise to power. His promise to restore prosperity equitably hid his ties to corporatist interests and religious ideologues.
He capitalized on hard times. He established militarism and unconstitutional governance. He convened military tribunals for civilians and called dissenters traitors.
He institutionalized tyranny. He put political enemies in concentration camps. He created Minute Men paramilitaries to terrorize anyone opposing him.
He destroyed democracy, declared martial law, usurped dictatorial powers, circumvented Congress, and made himself supreme ruler.
It can happen anywhere, anytime. Political demagogues take full advantage. Obama/Biden/Romney/Ryan represent the worst of what's coming. It's already happening.
Pre-election theater camouflages it. It runs cover for dirty politics. It works as planned. Most people are fooled. It repeats each electoral cycle. Broken promises follow all important ones made.
Rhetoric and policies are worlds apart. Wealth and power priorities trample on popular needs. The worst is yet to come. It's baked in the cake. Austerity is agreed on. Bipartisan schemes plan more of the same.
Huge social benefit cuts are coming. Mandated entitlements workers paid for will erode faster than ever. America's needy will end up on their own out of luck. Let-em-eat-cake governance doesn't give a damn. Non-believers will discover gulag hell firsthand.
Obama/Biden/Romney/Ryan are two sides of the same coin. Voters get to choose between death by hanging or firing squad.
You'd never know it from post-debate commentaries. A New York Times editorial headlined "A Debate With Clarity and Fervor."
It was "one of the best," said The Times. Perhaps its editors were watching Three Stooges reruns instead of demagogic blather.
"...real differences on public policy (were) discussed with fervor, anger, laughter and real substance."
Each candidate recited his lines. They were prearranged, prescripted well in advance.
"Martha Raddatz...was both entertaining and enlightening." Perhaps The Times meant someone else by the same name unrelated to politics, America's imperium, and media propaganda.
"Both candidates...demonstrated real engagement on issues that matter. It was a real change for voters starved for substance."
They won't find it anywhere on corporate-run television or in broadsheets like The Times. Managed news, opinion, and analysis substitute for the real thing.
Peggy Noonan is one of many Wall Street Journal right-wing ideologues. Headlining "Confusing Strength With Aggression," she called the theatrics a "draw on substance, but the vice president loses on style."
"For the second time in two weeks, the Democrat came out and defeated himself. In both cases, the Republican was strong and the Democrat somewhat disturbing."
"Another way to say it is the old man tried to patronize the kid and the kid stood his ground. The old man pushed, and the kid pushed back."
"And so the Romney-Ryan ticket emerged ahead. Its momentum was neither stopped nor slowed and likely was pushed forward."
What else could be expected from one of Murdoch's staff. He calls the shots and demands obedience.
Los Angeles Times contributor Doyle McManus headlined "Vice presidential debate: Biden's mission accomplished."
He said vice presidential debates don't matter and called Thursday night "a draw."
Reuters quoted University of Miami communications professor/debate coach David Steinberg saying:
"If you had to call a winner right now, I'd say it's a draw. But a tie goes to the incumbent."
"Ryan...turned in a solid performance," said Reuters. At the same time, "Biden was the story...But it will be up to Obama to close the deal in the two debates to come..."
Reuters tried having it both ways and failed.
Nation magazine contributors represent America's pseudo-left. They're unabashed Democrat party apologists. They support the worst of Obama/Biden. It shows in one deplorable mischaracterization after another.
John Nichols' post-debate analysis was typical. Headlined "Richard Milhous Ryan: No Specifics, Just a 'Secret Plan,'" he compared Nixon's Vietnam strategy to Ryan on taxes and balanced budgets.
No details. Just trust him. He'll do the right thing. Of course, he won't but neither will Obama. Nichols ignored that reality. Instead he compared tricky Paul to tricky Dick. Tricky Barack wasn't mentioned.
Biden had the "upper hand." His "skills" bested Ryan. At the same time, it wasn't "Biden who made Ryan the Nixon of the night. It was Ryan." On what he says matters most, he "had no details, no specifics, just a 'secret plan.'"
Nichols didn't explain the common thread in all campaigns and so-called debates. Rhetoric and promises substitute for policies, specifics, and follow-through. Each side replicates the worst of the other.
Money power wins. Ordinary people lose. It happens every time. Too bad journalists with other priorities don't explain. Too bad voters don't say pox on America's duopoly and vote independent.
Throwing out old bums for new ones never works. Expect nothing different in November no matter who wins or loses.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book is titled "How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War"
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.