Civil Discourse Now

Where the far left and far right overlap for fun and enlightenment

Indiana's 5th: a view of the Democratic Party primary, April 21, 2012.

   Today’s Show has the promise of being really good. Our topic will be Indiana’s 5th District Congressional race. Our guests include Tony Long, a candidate for the Democratic Party nomination for the general election in November. State Representative Scott Reske is Mr. Long’s opponent. Mr. Reske’s campaign manager, Lisa Carter, originally agreed to appear.

   One aspect of what I believe constitutes "civility" is to let guests know the topic for a program. The topic should be stated in such a manner that everyone sees where conversation and argument can go. Segues always occur, but people like to know what they are expected to know in a discussion.

   Another aspect of civility is to apprise guests as to whom the other guest or guests on a panel will be. On Thursday I had called Ms. Carter to let her know Tony Long, the candidate, had accepted our invitation and would be on today’s Show. Ms. Carter said that changed things and would call me back. She later left a voice mail and I called her. She said she could not be on The Show.

    My invitation was issued late. I contacted the campaigns on Monday, three weeks and one day before the primary. I understand the ways in which schedules are filled. To change the calendar of a candidate for United States Congress in the last three weeks of the primary campaign is no doubt possible, but also probably difficult.

   Ms. Carter explained she could not appear on The Show at the same time as Mr. Long because Mr. Long is an actual candidate and would have more latitude to answer questions Paul, Matt Stone, and I might have. I told her that was easily resolved. She could ask Mr. Reske to come on The Show. Okay, like I said, schedules are difficult to change. In this case the change would be to appear on a podcast with a couple of hundred viewers per week.

   I want to be fair in how we do The Show. Mr. Long faced a drive down U.S. 31 from Kokomo for the sole reason to appear on The Show. The easy thing for me would have been to do nothing, let him show up, and then tell him the news about his opponent’s cancellation. I did not believe that would be fair to Mr. Long. I called Mr. Long, informed him Ms. Carter would not be here and repeated to him the reason given.

   To Mr. Long’s credit, and to my relief, he said he will be here this morning to do The Show. My experience in political campaigns is not as extensive as Paul Ogden’s, but I have been around long enough to know candidates sometimes are prima donnas. Mr. Long could have said something to the effect of—"If they’re not going to be there, neither am I." Instead, he confirmed he will be here, and we discussed issues in the Fifth District race.

   Let me add—I am not saying Mr. Reske is a prima donna. I called him late. Also, if I were a candidate, I would not want my campaign manager to be on a show with my opponent. A candidate would have concerns, no matter how capable the campaign manager, that something could go wrong—because the campaign manager is not the candidate and so has less latitude to respond to the opponent’s statements.

   However, it also is my understanding that Mr. Reske has not appeared on the same stage or in the same forum as Mr. Long. I think that is unfortunate. Voters should have an opportunity to see the candidates together at least once before a vote. The environment we foster on "Civil Discourse Now" is one that has not been given to proceedings such as the Republican Party "debates" over the past few months. On our Show, a person with actual debate experience—me—shares the prerogatives of moderator (with Mr. Ogden) to advance relevant discussion and to intercede in the event things turn sour.

   So join us this morning at 11—we now stream "live"—as we discuss what could be one of the more interesting Congressional campaigns, in the State and possibly the country, this November. We shoot at Big Hat Books, 6510 Cornell Avenue in Broad Ripple.

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