Salt Lake City Mayor and political activist Rocky Anderson and conservative
firebrand and Fox News pundit Sean Hannity met on stage in Utah late Friday
night to debate whether or not George Bush should be impeached and about the
merits (or lack thereof) of the Iraq War. The format of the speech offered each man 30 minutes to outline their positions on the issue.
Mayor Anderson was up first and spent 30 minutes outlining the common values
of all Americans and how the Bush Administration has systematically betrayed
each and every one of the ideals all Americans hold dear. In a thoughtful,
respectful and well-researched manner, Rocky offered written evidence, video
proof and historical quotes and context to speak to the fact that Bush lied
to get into the war, has mishandled the war, supports torture, lied about
wire-tapping and has ruined the reputation of America.
In defense of the President, Sean Hannity spent the first few minutes of his
speech making personal attacks against Rocky Anderson. The body of his
speech was spent picking on liberals, showing video of John Kerry, Hillary
Clinton and others "flip-flopping" on the war and he mounted no defense
whatsoever for President Bush. Most of the speech had the same talking
points as the talk he gave to Utah Valley State College (we've posted some
clips of it here on our blog.)
He then closed his speech with video of gassed Iraqi Kurds and calling for
Rocky Anderson's impeachment.
The entire evening was a microcosm for the level of discourse in
America right now.
People from all parties on the left are asking serious questions about why
we went to war, why the Bush administration lied about it, why they insist
on tools against terror that consist of terror and any of the hundreds of
other issues raised by this rogue administration. Instead of rebutting any
of the sound arguments brought forth, the conservatives (in this instance
represented by Sean Hannity) proceed to wrap themselves up in an American
flag, evoking images of 9/11 and widespread terror if we do anything other
than what the president says.
How can we as a people have a competent national discussion about how to
deal with these very serious issues if we can't get the other side to talk
about them in a straightforward and honest manner? What's the use of
raising questions to members of the Bush administration and their supporters
if they're going to ignore them completely?
What can we do to raise the level of discussion in our country?
I don't know the answer. I have a few suggestions, but I don't know the
1) Hold more public forums such as this. People need to see which
side addresses the issues and which side dances around them. Liberal or
conservative, people should see it.
2) Our congressional leaders need to subpoena officials in
the administration to answer questions. And they need to ask the questions
and dig deeper until they truly find the answers.
3) We need encourage people to start ignoring pundits (like
Sean Hannity) that lower the level of discourse in our great nation. If
they can't raise the bar on discourse in our country, we should cease paying
attention to them and quit putting them on television.
This debate was enlightening to me on a number of levels and made me think
deeply about the state of discourse in our country and forced me to
formulate the above suggestions. But more importantly, what are your
suggestions? I really want to know. Let's have a constructive conversation
about this right here in the comments section.