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Debate Night(s)

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June 30, 2019 6:00am by Bob Lefsetz The First Night Debate Answer the damn question! I support Elizabeth Warren, but when asked about guns, she veered into gibberish and never tacked back. Why couldn’t she just speak English? Guns are a big problem in society but they’re here forever, we’re never gonna take guns away from licensed owners, but our goal is to increase public safety. BINGO! I’ve got a friend who agrees with a lot Warren has to say, but is literally afraid she’s gonna take his gun away, therefore he won’t vote for her. I tried to convince him his gun is going nowhere, but he doesn’t believe it. Living in the mountain west he believes firearms are necessary for protection out in the wild and he’s been

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The First Night Debate

Answer the damn question!

I support Elizabeth Warren, but when asked about guns, she veered into gibberish and never tacked back. Why couldn’t she just speak English? Guns are a big problem in society but they’re here forever, we’re never gonna take guns away from licensed owners, but our goal is to increase public safety. BINGO!

I’ve got a friend who agrees with a lot Warren has to say, but is literally afraid she’s gonna take his gun away, therefore he won’t vote for her. I tried to convince him his gun is going nowhere, but he doesn’t believe it. Living in the mountain west he believes firearms are necessary for protection out in the wild and he’s been convinced by right wing rhetoric that Warren is gonna round up the guns. That would be fine with me, but that ain’t America, in the land of little pink houses guns are part of the fabric, seen as freedom, as for the Second Amendment and rising militias, that’s just hogwash, people just love their guns, end of story.

Politicians. I know it’s a long road to the nomination, never mind the election. But when you waffle, when you won’t own an idea, people lose faith in you, and what we need now more than ever is faith, belief.

Sitting on a sofa on a Sunday afternoon
Going to the candidates’ debate
Laugh about it, shout about it
When you’ve got to choose
Every way you look at this you lose

That’s the song that’s been going through my head this week, “Mrs. Robinson,” by Simon & Garfunkel. Released back in ’68, that was when rock stars were bigger than politicians, speaking their truth to the younger generation, and after its inclusion in “The Graduate,” the older generation too. Come on, it’s decades later, and when someone graduates from college you immediately say PLASTICS! And if they don’t know what you’re referencing you tell them to watch the movie.
 

 
And the movie is all about rebellion. Moving away from what’s expected of you. That was the sixties, when it was truly about personal freedom, trying to find yourself. Today there’s no time to find yourself, you go straight from college to plastics, or Wall Street or Facebook or Google, sit on the sidelines and your career, your income, might be hampered forever!

But there was a rebellion back in ’68. Against the war, against business as usual. The government was the enemy, not because it was bloated, but because it wasn’t seen as being on the individual’s side. We wanted to wipe the slate clean, inject some modernist thinking, instead all we were getting was Nixon and Checkers, from fifteen years before, it was like the sixties never existed.

And it’s like they never existed today. Hell, the right wants to wipe the decade from history.

If you were alive back then it’s amazing to see the transition from questioning authority to believing in authority, from individualism to groupthink, from advancement of the rights of minorities to denials thereof.

We had a bit of hope back then, with Eugene McCarthy and Bobby Kennedy, but one lost traction and the other got shot and we ended up with Nixon, who ultimately blew himself up, but not before wreaking havoc overseas. Then again, it was Milhous who opened China.

The public wants to feel empowered, optimistic.

And we haven’t had that spirit here since…1969!

But at least give Trump credit for energizing those left behind, the angry, the racist, the…

Trump won because he had charisma. Among other qualities. Nobody on the dais last night evidenced any charisma.

Bill de Blasio was the biggest surprise. Possibly the most hated man in New York demonstrated that he’d grown through power and had a grasp on the issues and could articulate his positions with passion.

As for everybody else…

Beto was like a high school kid who’d failed to memorize the poem, he wanted credit for speaking Spanish, but everybody with a brain was wincing.

Tulsi Gabbard is too young to have watched the Nixon/Kennedy debates, wherein it was proven that makeup was everything. Couldn’t she have gotten a better job?

Booker kept telling us he lived in the hood. You almost expected him to rap. Somehow, he comes across as inauthentic, as if he gets off stage and tells his buddies it was all an act.

Klobuchar didn’t appeal to anybody. She’s the girl who got straight A’s looking for attention not knowing it’s her personality that alienates people.

As for everybody else… They looked like they were not seasoned, did not have enough practice, were out of their league. At least Warren and de Blasio looked comfortable.

And it’s less about substance than image at this stage anyway. You’ve got to be believable, when the wankers with no chance talk about when they become President, you wonder if they’re on drugs, they’re so delusional.

Trump threw out the rulebook. He had no problem going on record. He was playing to those at home, not the hosts or those on stage. He threw a spanner into the works. No Democrat did that last night.

Actually, it’s Bernie Sanders who is famous for that. He’s impassioned, you can tell he believes what he says. There’s no doubt he’s fighting for the little guy, the same way Trump fought for the disenchanted on the right.

That’s right, we’re selling emotions.

If an act goes on stage and plays the material by rote, it does not resonate. You want a unique experience, not a canned one. You want this night to be special. And mistakes only make the performers more human. And sure, politicians don’t want to make mistakes, but they do need to be seen as human.

As for pundits boosting Julian Castro… That’s like someone from an indie label telling you their record will go to number one, even though you’ve never heard of the act and when you listen you can see glimmers of hope, but are instantly aware the track is lacking the whole package.

Let your freak flag fly.

Be honest.

You’re convincing the public, not the press. And the internet era allows you to do this, go directly to voters.

Right now it’s looking like Trump will win.

Let’s see if some stones are turned over tonight.

~~~

Debate Night 2

What a difference a day makes! It was like last night was the kiddie table, and tonight was the adults, playing for real.

Marianne Williamson had it right. It’s not about specifics, policies, it’s about playing Donald Trump’s game and beating him. The news says it’s about the weeds, when clearly it’s about the forest.

Now it’s a conundrum. Where a couple of candidates are ahead of the public, most specifically Bernie Sanders tonight. People attacked him for his radical ideas, but his message, that the hoi polloi have gotten screwed for forty years and radical change is necessary resonated. Incremental change is a thing of the past. That’s one thing Trump realized and Bernie has too. You’re playing the long game. It’s not about individual debates, you stick to your message and pray that it resonates.

That’s what screwed up Joe Biden. He’s playing old style politics. Look at what I’ve done in the past and give me the reins. Isn’t this exactly what snuffed-out Hillary Clinton’s campaign? Turns out people don’t want safe, they want change. Trump couldn’t fulfill all of his promises and Sanders or Warren won’t be able to either, D.C. doesn’t work that way. But the little things do count, like the appointment of Supreme Court Justices. Of course that’s a big thing, maybe the biggest thing, but it doesn’t resonate with voters. They’re interested in the veneer, not what’s inside. Blame it on the educational system, blame it on a lack of time or interest, but just like people don’t want to know what goes into a hot dog, they just eat ’em, people want to turn over their problems to one person, they don’t want to dedicate their lives to politics.

But politics has become the story of the day. That’s what’s interesting about the music business, all anybody wants to talk is politics. Because there’s so much at stake. It’s not as simple as defeating Trump, it’s about having vision, fixing the wrongs of the era of greed, turning the ship around. And people know this. The Trumpers want to go back to the past. Sanders and Warren want to go headlong into the future. And normally the future scares people, but when you’re alone on a desert island you’re willing to take any chance to make it to safety. This is what the Democrats still don’t realize. The rank and file, the blue collar workers, have been waving their arms for years, calling attention to their plight, but no one seems to be paying attention, so they threw in with Trump, at least there was a chance it would no longer be business as usual. And it hasn’t been.

And then we’ve got the pundits and the polls. It’s way too early and these are the same people who got it wrong in 2016. When you’re part of the establishment your vision is clouded, you can’t see the whole picture, you want to hold on to the power you’ve got. Unlike Karl Rove, who in today’s “Wall Street Journal” called attention to how the Democrats are far ahead in small online donations. And Rove lamented that the new Republican competitor would fail because it’s for-profit, instead of non-profit, like the Democrats’.

Even better was Bernie Sanders’ piece in the same paper, albeit two pages later. That’s right, Bernie’s screed was entitled “Trump Is The Worst Kind of Socialist.” If you read it, you’ll be sold. Unlike Biden, Bernie is not just saying Trump must go, he’s both eviscerating the right’s main attack upon him and doubling-down by delineating his position. And sure, this is substance, but it’s the way it’s delivered that’s so important.

But you can’t read either of these pieces, by Rove or Sanders, because they’re behind a paywall. Which represents the haves and the have-nots. The rich have their clubs. The rich have the “Wall Street Journal.” The poor have got the nightly network news, which is all surface all the time.

The reason Bernie succeeds is he delivers his position with passion. Listening to him speak tonight you had no doubt that he believed everything he was saying. This was not Hillary taking a poll and being hamstrung as a result. Bernie’s willing to drop the bombs and deal with the fallout.

As for the vaunted performance of Kamala Harris… She too evidenced passion. And she showed her prosecutorial skills to the nation at large. But I’m not sure that’s what’s gonna close people. It’s about the vision thing. It’s not about grinding it out yard by yard, but throwing the long ball, getting so far ahead of the populace that people have no choice but to pay attention to you, to see whether you succeed or fail if nothing else.

Hell, it’s like Evel Knievel. No one liked the man, but everybody tuned in to see whether he could pull off his daredevil feats. He was a showman. Trump is a showman. You’ve got to understand it’s entertainment or you can’t win.

Hell, it’s hard to square Bernie, with going to Russia, being a New York Jew who moved to Vermont, of all places, when you couldn’t get lox, never mind a real bagel, who has no problem labeling himself a democratic socialist. It’s like someone who walks into a bad neighborhood oblivious, believing their belief in themselves will always carry them through.

So unlike last night, the secondary candidates were not complete losers. But some didn’t realize it was about a performance primarily, and others did, but then you wondered…who is this person again?

And the competitors are all thumping their chests, telling us what they did. We don’t care what you did, we only care about what you’re going to do! So, once again, Bernie shined tonight.

The crowd will thin, or be separated into winners and losers, those with a chance and those without one. Biden can only go downhill from here. By staying above the fray he’s gotten rusty. We saw tonight that Harris would have no trouble standing up to Trump. But this election is not about criticizing him, but getting in front of the man who has no vision of the future and doesn’t even know the past that well. Bernie brushed Trump aside. That’s how you win, you don’t let the losers bring you down, you play your own game.

As for Warren…she hasn’t hit the big leagues in the debates yet. Let’s see how she plays when she does. She’s certainly got the vision thing down, but tonight it seemed Kamala had more fight, she could definitely pull a knife on Trump.

Unfortunately, we’re gonna have to hear the same messages for eighteen months, we’re going to be bored to death, the election process is way too long.

But there’s so much at stake.

~~~

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Debate Night(s)

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Bob Lefsetz
Bob Lefsetz is the author of “The Lefsetz Letter.” Famous for being beholden to no one and speaking the truth, Lefsetz addresses the issues that are at the core of the music business: downloading, copy protection, pricing and the music itself.

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