Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Psychic Bursts 

Just back from The Week lunch featuring a panel that included Dick Morris, Mario Cuomo, Frank Newport (who it turns out is not actually a cigarette baron but Editor-in-chief of the Gallup Poll), Joe Trippi and moderator by Harold Evans. There were also call-ins by Russell Simmons and Mike Dukakis.

Dukakis is still upset about his failure to deal with the 1988 GOP accusations that his record in Massachusetts consisted of flag burning, felon freeing and mental illness. (For the record, only the part about freeing felons was true.) Surprising he blamed Cuomo for telling him to ignore these accusations during the campaign.

All the hot action was between Cuomo and Morris. Cuomo holds to the belief that democracy is a deliberative form of government, in which candidates attempt to persuade the populace of the wisdom of their policies. This, of course, is exactly what many ancient Athenians considered the worst part of democracy because it easily leads to rule by verbally adept but thoroughly corrupt tyrants. Morris holds the Aristotelian point of view, according to which people believe what they believe, and the art of rhetoric is to appeal to their beliefs. This position was frightful to an entirely different set of Athenians for the simple reason that it meant leaders would always pander to vulgar masses.

After one particularly high-volume exchange, during which Morris claimed the Brooklyn Bridge would no longer be standing if not for George W. Bush and the Patriot Act, Cuomo gave what must be the most effective tearing down of a debating opponent I've ever heard. "If I took your passion as serious evidence of your sincerity I would be concerned for your sanity," Cuomo said. "But instead I'll take that as just some sort of temporary psychic burst."

Cut to moderator Harold Evans, trying to move the discussion along, "Governor Dukakis, you know something about psychic bursts."

Dukakis: "Arrrgghhh! I do not know anything about psychic fucking bursts you Britnitwit sonofabitch!"

Okay. He didn't really say "fucking" or "you Britnitwit sonofabitch" but you could totally tell he meant it.