Editorial: Civility? Yes, and no


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Posted Online: Oct. 14, 2012, 5:00 am
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The Dispatch and The Rock Island Argus
The reviews continue to come in from Thursday's vice presidential debate and, surprisingly, many found the faceoff entertaining.

We found it nearly unwatchable. There was nothing solemn or dignified in the rolled eyes, smirks and derisive laughter that characterized this combative "conversation" between Barack Obama's Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney's GOP runningmate.

One of these guys is a heartbeat away from the presidency and the other one wants to be.

We couldn't help but wonder what high school debate coaches are telling their teams in the wake of an exchange that seemed more like a verbal playground brawl -- "So's your old man!" -- than a dignified discussion of the issues. Civility? Ha!

Fortunately for voters in the 17th Congressional District, that too-often-elusive commodity was on display Thursday when U.S. Rep. Bobby Schilling, R-Colona, and his Democrat opponent, Cheri Bustos, faced off in a substantive and civil debate on WQAD. The meeting, which we were proud to co-sponsor, highlighted the differences between the two candidates, both of whom conducted themselves with the dignity befitting a member of Congress.

Big deal, you say?

Apparently, as the veep debate showed, it is.

Chances are this vice presidential debate will end up with other such faceoffs -- consigned to the ashcan of history. Though past VP debates have ocassionally produced memorial lines -- "Senator, I served with Jack Kennedy. I knew Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy," Lloyd Bentsen to Dan Quayle -- they have had little impact on the outcome of presidential campaigns. For example, though that line lives on, the Dukakis-Bentsen ticket was destroyed in an electoral landslide.

Fortunately, the flurry of exchanges between Mr. Ryan and Mr. Biden seem unlikely to stand the test of time

But the real concern is the damage done to our ever-coarsening political debate.


















 



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  Today is Saturday, Aug. 23, the 235th day of 2014. There are 130 days left in the year.

1864 -- 150 years ago: Telegraph reports state that, about 6 o'clock on the evening of the 20th, Quantrill, with about 800 of his thieves and robbers, surrounded Lawrence, Kan., and burned it to the ground.
1889 -- 125 years ago: Newton Beer's production of "Lost in London," which had a successful run for three seasons, was presented at Harper's Theater.
1914 -- 100 years ago: The German army commanded by Fran Duke Albrecht of Wurtemburg defeated the French army at Neufchmtenu.
1939 -- 75 years ago: John Deere Harvester Works in East Moline is starting a four-story, $104,000 addition to the combine assembly building.
1964 -- 50 years ago: Short Hills Country Club held onto its lead yesterday despite a rally by host Davenport Country Club and claimed the team title in the Sunshine Cup golf series.
1989 -- 25 years ago: Quad-Citians can look forward to more excitement and fun at this year's Rock Island Labor Day parade at 9:30 a.m. Sept 4, say organizers. This years theme is "Celebrate Rock Island."






(More History)