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I had to laugh this afternoon after I received an e-mail from my mother, who occasionally posts here as Vayapaso, regarding my appearance at Macalester College for the forum on Iraq. She said, "You're walking into a den of lions tonight," and from the comments, she wasn't alone in that observation.
I'm glad to report back that no one got devoured tonight and that the evening went very well indeed. As most people guessed, the audience and the panel were (for the most part) highly opposed to my point of view. However, they all treated me rather graciously, even if they did not agree with me on almost anything I said -- save for my remarks about democracy, at least as it applied in the United States.
I won't get into the nitty-gritty of the debating positions. I don't think they would be surprising on either side to CQ readers, and I didn't hear anything tonight I hadn't read before in the Independent and Rolling Stone. (For that matter, they didn't hear anything from me that they hadn't read in the Weekly Standard -- which I hope they read, anyway.) I think all of us made an effort to keep the forum from descending into a tit-for-tat sniping session, and with one silly exception regarding my use of the phrase "one man, one vote", all succeeded.
Perhaps the person who did the best tonight was the moderator, David Perry, who tried to ensure that all of us got mike time. I know I felt a little off my game. I overshot my time limit on my opening remarks, so the last quarter of it went unheard. Fortunately, I posted them and several people promised to check the blog out tonight.
For my part, I focused on my own points and refrained from getting caught up in the answers of others. I tried to focus on the salutary effects of democracy, and stayed with that theme as much as possible. I didn't try to fake what I didn't know, and I admitted my unease with the present situation in Iraq. The most fun I had came when David posed a question from the audience to me about the "dark days" of Democratic control, if it comes to pass after the election. I replied that such control would give me plenty of material for the blog and wouldn't be all bad, which got a good laugh, but again I underscored my respect for the wisdom of democracies.
The response was pleasantly surprising. No one shouted anything out from the audience, and while I heard groans, they were ... polite groans. Afterwards, a number of people who I knew disagreed with almost everything I said came up to thank me for my participation and my gracious manner (their description, not mine). I told them honestly that I had enjoyed the evening more than I expected -- and it felt good to participate in a political debate where people didn't descend to personal attacks and gotcha wordsmithing, or not much in the case of the latter.
Most gratifying was how many of my friends and family turned up. I took the First Mate, but my radio partner Mitch showed up for a portion of the evening. My son and daughter-in-law brought the Little Admiral, who made her grandpa proud by listening carefully to every word I said. Our "in-laws" were there as well, Missy's parents and her aunt and uncle -- Sean from Everything I Know Is Wrong. A number of other friends from The Patriot and the blog came by as well: Jane, Chris, Dale, Katherine ... thanks for being there. I know I'm missing a couple, so please forgive me if I did.
In the end, I feel gratified with my part in the debate. I don't think anyone had their mind changed tonight on the topic. I hope that everyone had their mind opened about engaging with people on political differences, rather than retreating into the kind of political tribalism that we so often employ.Sphere It View blog reactions
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Captain Ed participated in a forum at Macalester College on the Iraq War last night. He posted his opening remarks on his blog, and I think it’s a great overall view of why the war was the right thing to do in general, even if, as happens in mos... [Read More]
Tracked on September 12, 2006 9:09 AM
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