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 Wednesday, April 16, the 106th day of 2014. There are 259 days left in the year.
1864 -- 150 years ago: Yesterday some bold thief stole a full bolt of calico from a box in front of Wadsworth's store, where it was on exhibition.
1889 -- 125 years ago: A team belonging to Peter Priese got away from its driver and made a mad run across the Rock Island Bridge. The driver was thrown from his seat but not hurt.
1914 -- 100 years ago: Carlton Taylor was appointed district deputy grand master for the 14th
Masonic District of Illinois.
1939 -- 75 years ago: Moline's million dollar municipal airport was dedicated to air transportation and the national defense by Lt. Gov. John Stelle.
1964 -- 50 years ago: THE ARGUS will be election headquarters for Rock Island County tomorrow night, and the public is invited to watch the operation. The closing of the polls at 6 p.m. will mark the start of open house in the newsroom. Visitors will see staff members receiving, tabulating and posting returns.
1989 -- 25 years ago: Few bricks actually tumbled, but no one seemed to mind as about 1,000 people gathered to celebrate the formal start of demolition at the site of a downtown civic center.




(More History)