Opinion | From Substance to Shouting: The Demise of Political Debate in America


“Between bad behavior and illegal behavior, Chris.” “By the way, by the way.” “The thing is, before they voted and —” “Listen, can we have a focus on the issues that matter?” “We’re about to take a commercial break.” [MUSIC PLAYING] “Hey, a gas tax increase. And then you want the —” “I think Mr. Nixon is an effective leader of his party. The question before us is, which point of view and which party do we want to lead the United States?” “Our disagreement is not about the goals for America, but only about the means to reach those goals.” And having examined both your opponent’s record and the man himself, tell us his greatest weakness. “Barbara, reluctant as I am to say anything critical about Governor Reagan, I’ll try to answer your question.” “I would rather not critique the two candidates.” “I think we ought to attack our country’s problems, not attack each other.” “I’m not going to talk about a difference of character.” “I don’t like to get into personal matters. As far as I’m concerned this is a campaign about issues.” “I agree with Senator Kennedy.” “I find myself in so much agreement with Mr. Mondale.” “I agree with Mr. Bush.” “We certainly agree on it.” “I’m going to give the president some credit.” “First, I want to compliment the governor.” “Let me pay a compliment to the president, if I may.” “And have between a 20 and 30 percent increase in the number of employees —” “Sorry to interrupt, Mr. Carter.” “In California. Thank you, sir.” “The economy is starting downhill with housing failure.” Thank you, Mr. Mondale. “Go ahead.” You’re both very obedient. I have to give you credit for that. “And there is a different principle here on the —” Got it, sorry, sorry, Mr. Vice President. “It’s only on yellow here. Wait a minute.” “And you got an, and I —” Mr. President, I’m getting time cues, and with all due respect. “Excuse me, I don’t want to — I don’t want to —” I’m sorry. “Extend for a minute.” “Let me just one point. I got to answer this.” “Exactly, and with reservists being —” “10 days ago John said that the fundamentals of the economy are sound.” “Say it directly to him.” “I do not think they’re there.” Say it directly to him. “Well, John, 10 days ago you said that the fundamentals of the economy are sound. And —” “Are you afraid I couldn’t hear him?” “No, I’m just determined to get you all to talk to each other.” “A whole bunch of oil companies —” “No, I had a question. And the question was, how much did you cut them by?” “Do you want me to answer a question?” “How much did you cut them by?” “In his solar company.” “I’m happy to respond.” “If you’re investing government money it’s someone else’s.” “Tell the floor for a while.” “Absolutely not. That’s the wrong way to go. I’m still speaking.” “Got a governor? The fact of the matter is —” “So I want to make sure that we make America more competitive.” “Yeah.” “Don’t worry about it, Little Marco, I will.” “All right, well, let’s hear Big, Big Don. You’re Donald.” “Don’t worry about it, little — don’t worry about it, Little Marco.” “Gentlemen, gentlemen.” “You ought to chill up.” “You’ve got to do better than that.” “First of all, this guy’s a choke artist, and this guy’s a liar.” “This is a tough business, to run for president.” “No, you’re a tough guy, Jeb.” “It is. And we need to have a leader that is for principle. You’re never going to be president of United States by insulting your way to the presidency.” “You’re real tough. Well, let’s see. I’m at 42 and you’re at 3.” “Doesn’t matter.” “So, so far I’m doing better.” “I never attacked him on his look, and believe me, there’s plenty of subject matter right there.” “It’s pretty clear —” “You’re the puppet.” “It’s pretty clear you won’t admit —” “No, you’re the puppet.” “That the Russians —” “If she doesn’t have the look. She doesn’t have the stamina.” “There is —” “You’re wrong, you’re wrong, wrong.” “That is absolutely proved. Have a good time, folks.” “Absolutely me too.” “Do you have any idea what this clown is doing.” “Socialized, they call it —” “You have, they do.” “The radical left —” “Will you shut up, man.” “Listen, who is on your list, Joe?” “Bad behavior, and illegal behavior, Chris.” “By the way, by the way.” “Before they voted and —” “Can we have a focus on the issues that matter.” “We’re about to take a commercial break.” [MUSIC PLAYING]