The Corner

Watch The Dogs That Don’t Bark Tonight

One of the interesting things to pay attention to, as we get through the debates, is what topics don’t get raised. Sometimes amazingly, in retrospect: the 2000 debates completely ignored the topic of terrorism: “in the three presidential debates and the vice presidential debate, terrorism was never discussed – the only times ‘terrorists’ or ‘terrorism’ appear in the transcripts are in brief laundry lists by Gore and Lieberman (once each) of Gore’s and the Clinton Administration’s accomplishments.” (The media also paid little attention to Bush and Gore mostly agreeing that the U.S. should try to overthrow Saddam Hussein, and disagreeing only around the margins of that goal).

In 2012, I went through the list of topics that never got raised:

1-The Federal Reserve/monetary policy/QE3/the next Fed chairman

2-The EU and the Eurozone crisis, other than the use of Greece as a cautionary tale. Indeed, Europe in general was largely ignored, in marked contrast to the Bush-Kerry debates in 2004.

3-The descent of Mexico into chaos, other than Romney’s brief discussion – cut off by Candy Crowley – of Operation Fast & Furious.

4-Same-sex marriage. The only reference to any gay-rights issue was a brief mention by Obama of repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.

5-Climate change/global warming/cap and trade

6-Racial preferences; Romney discussed affirmative action for women, but the subject didn’t otherwise come up.

7-Welfare reform and Obama’s waivers on the issue

8-The death penalty

9-Campaign finance reform

10-Guantanamo and detainee policy

11-Interrogation policy

12-Surveillance policy

13-The TSA/airport security

14-The War on Drugs

15-Sanctions on Cuba

16-U.S. relations with India

17-No Child Left Behind, although there was quite a lot of discussion of education.

18-Stem cell research

19-The growth of executive power, including Obama’s use of executive orders and “czars”

20-H-1B visas, guest worker programs and the border fence with Mexico.

21-Right-to-work and public employee collective bargaining.

22-The BP oil spill

23-Evolution (yes, I know, this is only asked during GOP debates)

Some of those omissions also seem notable, given the controversies of the past four years. I suspect there will be a longer list this year, given Trump’s presence and how he will draw the discussion towards his pet topics and away from areas where he has no interest or inclination to do battle with the Democrats.

Dan McLaughlin is an attorney practicing securities and commercial litigation in New York City, and a contributing columnist at National Review Online.

Most Popular

Politics & Policy

The Other Case against Reparations

Reparations are an ethical disaster. Proceeding from a doctrine of collective guilt, they are the penalty for slavery and Jim Crow, sins of which few living Americans stand accused. An offense against common sense as well as morality, reparations would take from Bubba and give to Barack, never mind if the former ... Read More
Politics & Policy

May I See Your ID?

Identity is big these days, and probably all days: racial identity, ethnic identity, political identity, etc. Tribalism. It seems to be baked into the human cake. Only the consciously, persistently religious, or spiritual, transcend it, I suppose. (“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor ... Read More

‘Silenced’

Someone tweeted this cartoon today, which apparently is intended to depict me. A few thoughts: I love the caricature. It’s really good. I may steal the second panel and use it for advertising. I hear this line of criticism fairly often from people who are not very bright or well-informed; in truth, I ... Read More