Wednesday, October 15, 2014

First Rule Of Public Debates: Never Do Anything Stupid or Petty. Or Throw A Hissy Fit.

(UDPATE: hello to all Crooks & Liars visitors!  Just remember these three things: please comment if you want, although I ask you not use 'anonymous' as an ID; please prepare for NaNoWriMo this November; and when you speak of Ta-Nehisi Coates and the Horde, speak well.  You can find me Tweeting away on #fantrum to my heart's content... P.S. GET THE VOTE OUT PEOPLE)

So there was supposed to be a Governor's debate here in Florida tonight between Charlie Crist and Rick Scott.

So before the debate begins, there's a bit of confusion going on, and then finally the debate moderators had to note conflict brewing backstage.

So what happens is that Crist has a floor fan he takes everywhere.  Every public speech or gathering he's got a a small floor fan that can fit under a podium or chair and uses it for cooling down.

This is old news.  It's been reported on as recently as this August.  There's a fake Twitter account for Charlie Crist's Fan that's been around since 2009.  (UPDATE: It turns out Crist had one as far back as 2006 when he campaigned for Governor then... the debate promoter ended up providing a fan to the opponent Tom Gallagher...) I'm willing to bet Crist had a fan like that at last week's Hispanic Debate.  Another thing to point out: This is Florida.  Nearly everybody in the state has a floor fan like that, or a ceiling fan, or an oscillating fan.  IT'S FLORIDA: IT GETS HOT DOWN HERE.  Even in October.

But somehow Scott and/or his campaign handlers didn't like Crist having that floor fan around and argued to have it against the rules at this debate for Crist to have it there.

So, the fan is there under Crist's podium and Scott decides to refuse to take the stage.  For seven minutes, Crist's pretty much the only one up there, cracking at least one awkward joke at Scott's expense before Scott finally came out to begin the debate proper.

Why Scott has to throw a hissy fit over a fan makes little or no sense.  It's not like the fan is a f-cking teleprompter or Blackberry giving Crist an edge.  See above: THIS IS FLORIDA.  There are fans everywhere.  As Crist says towards the end of the debate when the fan issue became the question, "What's wrong with being comfortable?"

As Michael Mayo at the Sun-Sentinel notes:
...that Crist, our former governor, looked bad for so desperately clinging to his trusty sweat protector. And Scott, our current governor, looked worse for almost scuttling the debate over something so silly.

It's already made the national media sites.  I won't doubt that the Republican partisan sites will talk up Crist's evilness in bringing an EVIL DEMONIC floor fan onto the stage like that.  But what does it say about Scott's demeanor that he threw the adult equivalent of a child's tantrum?

Look, like it or not that is a state-wide - and tonight of all nights a NATIONAL - stage upon which to present yourself as a cool, capable, level-headed politician.  There are several rules about debating (one them is literally "don't let them see you sweat!"), and one of the top rules is "Never act stupid or petty at the podium."

Look to Rick Perry back in 2011-12 for God's sake.  He came in late to the GOP primaries as a "white knight" figure - a Far Right governor of a Far Right state popular with the GOP wingnuts - only to blow it on the debate stage when he couldn't remember the three federal agencies he'd close down as President.  The stupidity was so painful that moment that his fellow debaters jumped in to remind him.

In terms of pettiness, bad debate performances turn on how one of the debaters would get stuck on some minor detail or annoyance and flare it up into a useless argument.  This is where Scott screwed up.  Where Crist came out to the stage to begin the debate, Scott refused.  A smart debater would have come out, pointed out the rule, asked Crist directly to work that debate without the fan, shift the burden completely onto Crist, and proceed with the event.  Instead, Scott came across acting like a spoiled child who wasn't getting his way and was going to take his toys and go home.

So who had the Oops Moment here?  Crist may have brought out a floor fan against Scott's wishes but he was the one who came out prepared to actually debate.  Scott was fighting an argument over a floor fan that Crist has used almost his entire political career with no scandal, and was "standing up" for his argument by throwing a tantrum.  Over a fan.  IN FLORIDA.

Our state's entire existence depended on air conditioning, and Scott is throwing a hissy fit over a fan.  How many Floridians are sitting at home watching this debate thinking "why the hell doesn't Scott have a floor fan?"

If our governor's election turns entirely on how the average Floridian thinks about the use of floor fans during a debate, AND STILL VOTES FOR RICK "NO COOL" SCOTT, we deserve to sink into the rising climate change waters.

Going to bed now.  When I wake up tomorrow morning I wanna see at least 60 percent of my fellow Floridians claiming they're fans of Charlie Crist.


Annoying Buzz said...

The issue that everyone seems to be missing is that the contract said that "electronic" devices were not allowed, and that makes sense. Enhanced communication would give a debater an unfair advantage.

But anyone who didn't sleep through 7th grade science should know that a fan is an "electrical" device, not electronic.

Paul W said...

I may update this post later on, but the fallout from the #Fantrum has been Scott's inability to admit he missed going on-stage when he should have. He's trying to spread the story that he was waiting on Crist to show, when Crist was clearly up there for 4-5 minutes waiting for Scott. It took a sizable amount of humiliation to drive Scott out to debate.