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 Friday, Sept. 19, the 262nd day of 2014. There are 103 days left in the year.
1864 -- 150 years ago: Charles M. Osborn of this city, a lawyer of prominence, who voted for Lincoln in 1860 is now out strong for McClellan and will take the stump for him.
1889 -- 125 years ago: The George Fleming company had begun its dried fruit packing in a branch plant on 16th Street, Rock Island, employing nearly a hundred workers.
1914 -- 100 years ago: The cornerstone of the new Eagles home was laid. Building committee members were John Kobeman, Fred Ehmke and Frank Wich.
1939 -- 75 years ago: Former Kaiser Wilhelm, in exile, is sad as the Nazis march with communists.
1964 -- 50 years ago: Ninety-two members of the acappella choir at Davenport's West High School today accepted an invitation to perform at the New York World's Fair on June 13, 1965.
1989 -- 25 years ago: A Rock Island woman is one of 50 winners of $10,000 in cash in the Illinois State Lottery's "Celebration "89" instant ticket game. Dawn Loeffler was the third winner to be chosen through daily drawings that began Aug. 28 and will run 50 consecutive days.






(More History)