The Thinker: Rich Galen


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Mullings by Rich Galen ®
An American Cyber-Column By Rich Galen
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Debate #9 - Pregame

Rich Galen

Thursday February 20, 2020

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  • Here was the talk in the run-up to the debate on Wednesday night. And when I say "the talk" I mean, of course, "Here's what I was thinking."

  • Many games and even wars are largely won and lost before the first ball is thrown, or the first bullet is fired. Same is true of political debates - including debates being a contact sport.

  • A good debate story.

  • In 1980 when Governor Ronald Reagan was running against President Jimmy Carter, I was press secretary for Congressman Dan Quayle running against U.S. Senator Birch Baye.

  • As I remember there was going to be only one debate - Reagan and Carter had only onc debate as well.

  • After the walk-through of the hall in Indianapolis, Quayle's staff worked itself into a frenzy about Sen. Bayh's talent for looking directly into a camera and speaking to the people at home.

  • I don't remember where we got this idea from, but it bedeviled us all day.

  • Finally, I could stand it no more. I went back over to the hall and asked to look it over again. This was, remember 1980. The cameras were this size of refrigerated trucks and were equipped with what are called "Tally Lights;" those lights that come on when the camera in which it is installed is on the air.

  • One by one I unscrewed the red lens. Took out the small bulb. And, put the lens back on.

  • End of Tally Lights. Birch wouldn't know which camera was on. Level playing field for Congressman Quayle.

  • Quayle easily beat the 18-year-incumbent on election night a few weeks later.

  • Which leads us to the Las Vegas debate.

  • Early last October, Bernie Sanders experienced "chest discomfort" during an event and went to the hospital. After some hemming and hawing, the campaign admitted he had suffered a heart attack which was treated with the insertion of two stents to keep the blocked artery open.

  • October. November. December. January. Early February. Mid February.

  • Four and half months after the event, the matter of Sanders' medical records were the breathless subject of panel after panel on cable chat shows.

  • You think everyone had forgotten about the fact that Bernie did a Trump and had doctors release vague letters attesting to his good health - for a 78-year-old man with a heart attack in his recent past?

  • No. Everyone was pretty satisfied we knew enough and we could see that Sanders was functioning pretty well on the campaign trail.

  • Someone got the drums beating about Bernie Sanders' health records.

  • I'm betting that someone was either the campaign of Joe Biden, the campaign of Mike Bloomberg, or both.

  • The Sanders campaign was so badly rattled that it sent its press secretary out to claim that Bloomberg had had stents inserted and had, himself, suffered "heart attacks."

  • This was not true. The stents part is true, but I had stents inserted back in the day, to prevent a heart attack. They were the very stents that had to be pried out so my thoracic surgeon could perform a cardiac bypass in March of 1998. Also to prevent a heart attack.

  • But that's not the end of the pre-debate maneuvering.

  • Michael Bloomberg has been in business (and in the Mayor's office) in New York since he got an MBA from Harvard in 1966. He used bad language and ogled women with the same zeal as just about every other male on Wall Street until Harvey Weinstein's arrest two years ago.

  • Do you think it is just coincidence that every stupid utterance about women by Bloomberg burst on the scene this week? It even shoved "stop-and-frisk" out of the discussion.

  • It is not.

  • In both cases, the campaigns have been tirelessly working the press corps planting stories that, having been blanketing the media like confetti after the Superbowl, will work its way into the question list at the Las Vegas debate and then will be batted back and forth by the other four candidates like a beach volleyball near the pool behind the Belligio.

  • As I noted above, debates are a contact sport and this is the ninth one for most of the candidates.

  • It is the first for Bloomberg. His people say he has a plan for dealing with the issues that will be thrown at him.

  • As Mike Tyson has been quoted as saying: "Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth."

  • On the Secret Decoder Ring page today: Links to the American Heart Association's discussion of Sanders' heart attack, to NBC's overview of the debate, to the Wikipedia entry for the Quayle v. Bayh Senate race in 1980, and to the NY Times' examination of Bloomberg's statements about women.

    The Mullfoto is another in the line of interesting license plates.

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