Published September 25, 2008
In Chocolate vs. Vanilla, Freedom always wins
As the debates both gubernatorial and presidential continue, I know of no better way to explain the difference between the way people think political communication works and the way it really works than this two-minute clip from Thank You for Smoking. Watch it. Seriously.There are two scenes, one in which the tobacco lobbyist explains to his son what he does, and a second in which he explains how he does it. It’s the second, vanilla-versus-chocolate coversation we’re most concerned with. (And since I met just today with a faithful reader who is also deaf, I've added a transcript you can click on.)Boom, baby. I've read a lot of fretting about the first Dino Rossi/Chris Gregoire Debate last week. (Watch it here.) Who won, who lost, who was truthful, which report was editorializing, and so on.Remember the movie clip and consider these opening lines on a few topics:On transportation projects:
Rossi: "Well, actually we have a transportation mess in this state. And it’s sheer incompetence as to how we got to this point."
Gregoire: "I know how frustrated we are when we go to the gas pump and see the price of gas."On the budget deficit and taxes:
Gregoire: "I know people are struggling. The fact of the matter is we go to the gas pump, and look how high it is."
Rossi: "Well now we’re having fun. Actually, back at the office we have a pool on how many times she’s going to mention George Bush, I picked six. You’ve got three more to go."On health care:
Rossi: "The incumbent has made health care less affordable in our state."
Gregoire: "I know how important health care is to people."I especially enjoyed the exchange on supporting mass transit, where Gregoire should by all accounts have the upper hand. She lines up well with this one but watch the follow through: "His plan: pave more roads. My plan: lets get done what we have to do, within the budget we have, but let’s offer alternatives to our consumers."Rossi rebutted with: "We clearly have two very different visions on transportation. My vision is rooted in freedom to choose the transportation you like."You get the idea. Lots of people believe Gregoire won that debate handily (including a conservativeSound Politics poster) by deploying her encyclopedic knowledge of the issues, mentioning the 250,000 jobs created during her tenure, that Forbes ranked Washington the No. 3 state to do business, and so on. I don't know who won more votes, but to me it's an open question. After all, John Kerry had some precise rejoinders in his 2004 debates with President Bush, and he’s still President Bush. If you watch Gregoire and Rossi tangle again (6 p.m. this Sunday on TVW), ask yourself, does it sound like chocolate versus vanilla, or chocolate versus freedom?