What We Learned From Four Debates.

1. Say what you believe.
2. Short is better than long.
3. Be specific…
4. But don’t get buried in detail.
5. What you do matters more than what you say.
6. Talking points and zingers are bullshit.
7. Don’t whine to the moderator.

So, from a communications coach who never took a debate class, here’s my view, presented at lower decibel levels than when I yelled at the TV screen over the past weeks.

1. Say what you believe. When Mitt Romney said in the last debate that Putin wouldn’t get more flexibility after the election, as President Obama had told him, “He’ll get more spine,” it was a solid hit. Romney believes that, it’s not just a message point, he believes he’s a tough negotiator. He said it with conviction and it rang true. Not true in an ultimate sense, but true in his voice, in his guts. And when Obama said several times in the second and third debates, “Governor, everything you said is just not true,” he had more color and variety and inflection in his voice than in his other points. “You’re the last person who’ll get tough on China,” Obama said, with a solid ring. Even though that was no doubt a practiced line, the president believes it, and you could tell it in the passion in his voice. The stuff he said before that was just blah-blah and he delivered it to the moderator — then he turned to Romney and said it to his face, “Governor, you’re the last…”

In my coaching, i have people start a talk or an interview with what they most believe. No warm-ups, no preliminaries, get what you care about out right away. It brings out the real person, not the practiced person or the image one has decided to project. Imagine — say what you believe. It comes out more concise, in more conversational language, and with more of the speaker’s personality and passion engaged and evident.

2. Shorter is better. Obama often went on too long. He’d make a strong point, but had to layer on more context, which obscured the original point. Romney’s “He’ll get more spine” was powerful because it was short. So was Biden’s “But I always say what I believe” when Paul Ryan said Biden knows about how words don’t always come out the way one wants them to. Romney looked the worst when he was challenged and would go into a filibuster, flooding the room with verbiage in a faster higher voice that made him sound like a kid trying to explain about the cookie jar.

Say what you have to say and shut up.

3. Be specific… Assertions with no examples or specifics to back them up are just marketing blather. I’ll cut the budget. HOW? WHAT? Obama said Romney’s foreign policy is the same as Bush’s. How much stronger to back up that assertion with “Seventeen of your twenty-four advisers on foreign policy served in the Bush administration that got us involved in a disastrous war on false pretenses. Why should we believe you’ll do any better with this crowd?”

4. But don’t get buried in detail. When Obama explained for the second and then the third time, in the first debate, how his health care board was constructed and what it would do, you knew he was toast. Too much ‘splainin’. The point is — “Would you rather have insurance companies deciding what gets covered and for how much, or representatives of patients and medical staff?”

5. What you do matters more than what you say. Obama lost the first debate before he had two sentences out of his mouth. As so many have observed, he looked down, he looked pissed, he looked like this whole thing was just too stupid for words. Watch Bill Clinton in his recent talks for Obama — the guy’s alive, having fun, smiling — you want to hear him. In the second debate, Romney walking up to the president and saying, over and over like a petulant kid, “Have you looked at your pension, have you looked at your pension…” looked like a jerk and gave the president an opening for a smartass cutting retort. Which brings us to…

6. Talking points and zingers are bullshit. Obama said “My pension isn’t as big as yours, Governor, it doesn’t take me that long to look at it.” Clever, made his supporters feel good, and probably doesn’t sway anyone. Same with “Horses and bayonets” and “The unraveling of the Obama foreign policy” and all the canned talking points and practiced zingers. They sound canned and practiced. Real people respond to people who sound like real people. Even better if they actually are real people who speak like people in my Point 1.

7. Don’t whine to the moderator. When Romney kept saying to the moderator that the president had the first answer so he should get the next one and that he should be able to finish — he looked like the dweeb running for student council vice president. And when Obama did the same, he sure as hell didn’t look like a man who could run a country or stand up to Putin or Boehner or anyone.

I’ve said many times I’d like to see debates with no moderator. The two candidates in a room, start the camera, see what happens, no rules. And in another debate have a town hall audience, they ask questions, but no moderator, see how these two people handle themselves as human beings.

I believe the more a person is himself or herself — not some practiced line-spewer — the more people respond.

But that’s just my opinion, and I could be wrong (thanks, Dennis Miller).

— Bruce Benidt

(Photo from npr.org)

48 thoughts on “What We Learned From Four Debates.

  1. Bruce: I have a couple ideas for debate evolution, besides my stroke of genius thing about the five-minute delay and real time fact-checking.

    1. Expand the moderator pool to the cable news spectrum. Let FoxNews, MSNBC, CNN and hell, Al Jazeera and Comedy Central. Each nominates their guy. Put ’em in a hat. Pick two.

    2: Old Soviet Russia for chrissakes used to have a literal microphone on a street corner for citizens to fire question at top officials. Maybe not Gorbachev, but the mayor of Moscow etc. Try that and see what “real Americans” are thinking.

    3. Instead of another network reporter/geezer handling a foreign policy debate. Get three actual foreign policy experts — Harvard, Stanford … Liberty University eggheads who know their shit and let them cross-examine the candidates. Ditto on economics, and with respect to today’s Republicans, women’s reproductive health.

    4: Establish a new rule that says any time a candidate says something utterly superficial, like “I’ll restore America’s greatness”, the opposing candidate has ten minutes to cross-examine him for specifics.

    Finally, have you changed from summer whites to autumnal turquoise yet and started adding more bitters to the mojitos?

  2. Brian, 1 is brilliant — have Jon Stewart moderate! That would be amazing — he’s the best true interviewer we have. 2 is shocking — we probably know less about Romney than Russians did about Gorbachev. 3 is the best — that would immediately show who knows their shit and who is just posing and posturing. W would have wet his pants. 4 yes there should be way more direct challenging, with no rules. And 5 — I’m just starting to wear longer skirts.

    1. The president has always had a plan, Newt. It lies dead at the feet of the Republican congress. Their plan for America these past four years has been NO!
      The president’s plan was to improve the present and preserve the future, on health care, environment, energy, jobs and education. The Republican plan has been NO!
      From Obama’s first effort to put people to work repairing our worn and torn national parks, including the capital mall, the Republican plan for America has been NO!
      Saying Obama is only now coming up with a plan is like inviting me to hunt, shooting my dog when I show up, and telling me “You can’t hunt without a dog, stupid.”

  3. Newt says:

    Sorry Bruce but the fact is Obama’s plan hit the mailbox yesterday. And you apparently have no curiosity as to why.


    And one more fact that doesn’t support your contention that Republicans are to blame… Obama’s budget was rejected by the House 414-0 in March and 99-0 in the Senate in May.

    The man came into office totally unqualified. He doesn’t appear to have learned anything on the job in four years, and now he wants us to reward him with another term.

    Romney is a highly disciplined, methodical, and strategic achiever. Unlike Obama he has a track record of achievement (and I’m not talking about elective office as an achievement.)

    Our only prayer to avoid becoming another Greece is Romney.

    1. PM says:


      don’t be a turkey: the fact that the plan is being mailed out today doesn’t mean that it did not exist until today. Your logic is infantile and wrong.

    2. PM says:

      One of the really fun things are all of the disasterous predictions that the GOP made about what would go wrong as a result of the First Obama term as President.

      As we are treated by Newt and other GOP mouthpieces to more silly predictions (Our only prayer to avoid becoming another Greece is Romney), mybe it is time to look at the track record:


      Sorry, Newt, the credibility of such utterances is pretty poor….

  4. Mike Kennedy says:

    Bruce: Come on, really? The liberals had control of the executive and legislative branch for two years and you blame the GOP? Facts are facts. The fact that liberals ran the show and are held accountable for it may dismay you, but that’s not the GOPs fault……I’m thinking of going to a Saturday night Halloween party as the GOP boogeyman. Then everyone at the party can blame me for everything, from the dip that sucks to the beer bottles on the floor to the unflushed toilets….well, you get the idea.

    1. PM says:


      this is bullshit. And you should know better. read below and try to remember the facts:

      “Here’s what really happened: Yes, in the 2008 election, Democrats managed to widen their majorities in both houses of Congress. In the 110th Congress that served from January 2007 through January 2009, Democrats held a 35 seat majority in the House and a single seat advantage in the Senate, which included “independent” Senators Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, both of whom caucused with the Democrats. The 2008 election saw that majority swell to 78 seats in the House and nine seats in the Senate.

      How is that possible, you ask? Everybody says that the Democrats had a full filibuster-proof majority? The math doesn’t add up, you say. If there are 100 seats in the Senate, and Republicans, as of January 2009 had only 40 of them (technically the Republicans had 41 of them initially, but we’ll get to that), doesn’t that mean that the Democrats had the remaining 60, giving them the supermajority in the Senate?

      No, not necessarily, because it was a very odd year in Congressional politics.

      Remember that Minnesota Senatorial election in 2008? The one that pitted former SNL writer/cast member and Air America Radio host Al Franken against Republican incumbent Norm Coleman? That race dragged on forever, resulting in several challenges and recounts until the Minnesota Supreme Court finally concluded on June 30th, 2009, that Franken was indeed the winner. Franken wasn’t sworn into office until July 7th, 2009, a full six months after the 111th Congress had taken charge.

      And it wasn’t even that easy. Even had Franken been seated at the beginning of the legislative session, the Democrats still would only have had a 59-41 seat edge. It wasn’t until late April of 2009 that Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter defected from the Republican Party to caucus with the Democrats. Without Franken, the Dems only had 58 votes.

      But even that’s not entirely accurate, and the Dems didn’t have a consistent, reliable 58 votes. Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy was terminally ill with a brain tumor, and could only muster up the energy to vote on selected legislation. His presence could not be counted on, and thus his vote in the Senate could not be counted on. During the first year of the Obama presidency, due to his illness Kennedy missed 261 out of a possible 270 votes in the Senate, denying the Democrats the 60th vote necessary to break a filibuster. In March of 2009, he stopped voting altogether. It wasn’t until Kennedy passed away in late August, 2009, and an interim successor was named on September 24th, 2009, that the Democrats actually had 60 votes.

      And even then the 60 vote supermajority was tenuous at best. At the time, then 91 year old Robert Byrd from West Virginia was in frail health. During the last 6 months of 2009, Byrd missed 128 of a possible 183 votes in the Senate. Byrd passed away on June 28, 2010 at the age of 92.

      In all, Democrats had a shaky 60 vote supermajority for all of four months and one week; from the time Kennedy’s interim successor Paul Kirk was sworn in on September 24th until the time Republican Scott Brown was sworn in as Kennedy’s “permanent” replacement after his special election victory over Democratic disappointment, Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley. In a state that is heavily Democratic, it seems that Coakley figured she didn’t have to actually campaign for the Senate seat; that Massachusetts voters would automatically elect the Democrat to replace the legendary Kennedy. No way Massachusetts would send a Republican to replace Ted Kennedy. Brown took the election seriously, Coakley did not, and Brown won (he will, however, lose this November to Elizabeth Warren, and all will be right with the world again).

      During those four months and one week, Congress was in session for a total of 72 days. So for 72 days the Democrats held a 60 seat, filibuster-proof supermajority in the United States Senate. But wait! There’s more! As Chicago Tribune columnist Eric Zorn points out, even that was unreliable. “Even in this window Obama’s ‘control’ of the Senate was incomplete and highly adulterated due to the balkiness of the so-called Blue Dog conservative and moderate Democratic Senators such as Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Evan Bayh of Indiana, and Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas.”


      I know that you like to lambaste Obama because you think that he is uppity, but at least get your facts straight.

      1. Bless you for mustering the facts and figures, PM. It’s so easy to glibly say Obama had control of congress — but facts and figures show otherwise. And no congress in history has used so many filibusters and threats of filibusters as Boehner/McConnell. The 60-vote rule is nonsense and the senate should change it — we should demand it.

        I”m okay with people arguing against something they disagree with on the merits — we shouldn’t have health care reform that tries to bring down the cost of end-of-life treatment, for example. Argue that case. But asserting things that aren’t true — death panels, Obama had a congress that would let him do anything he wanted for two years — is intellectually dishonest and creepy.

        Mike, you are so good at arguing from a factual basis — I seldom agree with you but I always pay attention to what you say — that I”m surprised when you rely on canard.

        And BTW, Republicans did filibuster the “Dip That Tastes Better” act.

      2. Erik says:

        Yea, except the budget and many fiscal matters aren’t subject to filibuster. In that two years the Democrats could have passed any tax and spending plan they desired with simple majorities.

        What did the Senate Republicans prevent us from getting with their filibuster during those years?

      3. Mike Kennedy says:

        Gotta go with Erik on this one…I know it is tempting to blame everything on George Bush and the Republicans. But didn’t Democrats also control Congress the last two years of the Bush presidency? So, technically, they controlled Congress for how long? Budget bills are not allowed to be fillibustered in the senate, and the tactic isn’t allowed at all in the House, no?

        Furthermore, didn’t Mr. Obama say he would set a new tone in Washington? Was it only the Republicans who acted partisan? I really think that rather than focus on the health care bill, the president could have compromised with Republican leaders.

        Seldom in politics, like a marriage, business partnerships or friendships, is there one party at fault for acrimony. Having watched Mr. Obama and his taunting, junior high behavior in public, one wonders what he is like behind closed doors with leaders of the opposition party.

        Remember the “I won” retort to his “new tone.”

        Nice try Bruce and PM, but Mr. Obama can’t continue blaming everyone else for his messes. Where does the buck stop? Only with the GOP?

      4. Erik says:

        To the extent there were filibusters, most were of nominations. Yes, that’s obstructionism of a sort, but it’s more about various factions asserting their various points and extracting concessions, payback, etc.

        The administration and the Democrat congress had a large window, and it was open for a long time. You’re trying to assert both Obama the Great and Obama the bedeviled at the same time. That’s yer BS right there.

      5. PM says:

        Sorry Erik and Mike, but you can filibuster a tax bill, and the GOP has done it recently. See this for an example:

        And, frankly, budget bills do not matter. i know that the GOP talking points like to make a big deal about budget bills (and the fact that they aren’t getting passed), but all budget bills are really guidelines. Usually they are ignored. Budget bills simply set spending goals for various Senate and House committees. the actual spending (with real dollars) come from Appropriations bills. and those are definitely subject to filibuster.

        So the tax and spending bills are subject to filibusters. Sorry to disappoint you guys…..but you are wrong.

      6. Erik says:

        I’m sure a Senator can go and talk and not cede the floor. Which is what your example is. But I think you’re conflating that with a cloture vote, which is not required for fiscal bills.

        You’re the staffer, and I’ll defer to your deeper experience, but I’m not speaking from a complete lack of knowledge here. I’d appreciate a real example.

        I still assert that these filibusters, such as they were, were mostly the blocking of Obama appointments.

      7. PM says:


        Cloture votes are required to end filibusters, and require a 3/5’s vote of the Senate (60 votes) to be successful. The only votes that are exempted from filibusters (and the 60 vote in order to invoke cloture, or the ending of debate) are budget related votes (not appropriation votes or tax votes or authorization votes or any other type of legislation).

        Budget votes are governed by the reconciliation rules. Reconciliation rules ensure that the Senate (with its different rules from the House) can participate and fulfill its obligations under the Budget process.

        Budget votes really do not deal with authorizations of funds or appropriations of funds, nor with taxes. Budget bills really only set broad categories of spending, and are resolutions of congress, and not actual laws that require the signature of the President.

        There have been a lot of controversies recently in the Senate about expanding the use of the reconciliation process–mostly by trying to apply it to things that are “budget related” in some fashion. I believe that requires a ruling by the Senate parliamentarian or by the rules Committee.

      8. Erik says:

        Alright. I take that as me being correct in my initial point. It’s immaterial how much of a “guideline” a budget bill actually is. Further, jut just about anything can be accomplished within a budget bill, right?

        What part of the Obama agenda have the Senate Republicans filibustered and thus prevented us getting? Secondarily, I still say the filibusters you assert were mostly nominations. Not innovative new public policy.

      9. PM says:

        Here you go, Erik:

        This is a review of a book that details the GOP Senate opposition to Obama’s agenda during the first 2 years of his administration. The goal of the Senate GOP was to prevent all of Obama’s agenda from coming to pass. Obviously, they were not completely successful (particularly wrt Obamacare).

        “The book paints Cantor and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) as two of the conservative leaders of a strategy to deny Obama bipartisan support for the stimulus. Cantor, Grunwald reports, relied on private polls to persuade rank-and-file GOP lawmakers that they were on safe political ground in opposing the agenda of the popular new president.

        “We’re not here to cut deals and get crumbs and stay in the minority for another 40 years,” Cantor is quoted as saying. “We’re not rolling over … We’re going to fight these guys.””

        I would also recommend that you look at (or revisit) the Mann/ Orenstein book “Its even worse than it looks” that we discussed extensively here at SRC back in August for a detailed look (and enumeration of) the instances of GOP Senate blocking Obama initiatives thru filibusters.

      10. Erik says:

        The stimulus got passed, and it could have been any size the Pres, Reid, and Pelosi wanted it to be. Therefore, it was neither filibustered nor obstructed successfully by the GOP. Therefore, it’s a not an example that affirms your assertion.

        Give us a conforming example, not a non-sequitur link that doesn’t reflect what we’re talking about. What public policy / legislation have the Republicans successfully obstructed through Senate filibuster? You’re being fact checked.

        I’m familiar with this stuff. The premise is generally that all D legislation is good and righteous, and all GOP obstruction is “political”. I reject the premise. By all means, cite an example from the book though. If it has the aroma of truthiness, I’d be hard pressed to dismiss it.

      11. PM says:

        More on immigration reform (the DREAM Act):

        “In 2010, Senate Republicans blocked Obama’s attempt to pass the DREAM Act — which would allow certain undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children to stay. The DREAM Act passed the House. But as ABC News reported, the Republicans killed the DREAM Act in the Senate when it “failed to win the 60 votes needed to break a GOP filibuster.”


        OK, Erik, I have now proved my point, and shown yours to be false. Are you now going to insist that one example is not enough, and ask me for more? Sorry, but i am not here to do your homework for you.

      12. Erik says:

        Dream Act is an example of what I was saying, where the premise is there’s no valid critique of Democrat legislation and all Republican objection is assumed to be political obstruction. It’s not a valid premise, and further you’ve got a bad example here.

        7 years ago or so Pres. Bush was for immigration reform, and it was going to be brought for a vote. The conservative base went bananas, and the vote was a cancelled the day it was to occur. It was a cluster. Fairly embarrassing at the time. Which is just to say, the Republican caucus is captive to its base, and there’s your proof that Republican opposition to the Obama Dream Act wasn’t a manifestation of obstructionism.

        Your budget examples are better, insofar as the Republican party’s out-of-power self-righteousness is impossible to square with their in power behavior. But… they are captive to the Tea Party now, and we did in fact get a debt ceiling deal, so it really was all about gamesmanship and extracting concessions.

      13. Erik says:

        Are we sure every Democrat senator is for the Dream Act? Or could it be that Democrats patronize Latinos, but then don’t work as hard for reform as they say because they don’t want to put a bunch of seats in electoral play.

      14. Erik says:

        Ah – the Media Matters article makes reference to the Bush era Immigration reform. We’re to understand though that when it was killed in 2007, that wasn’t partisan obstructionism. But it was when it was killed in 2010.

        Very persuasive PM.

      15. PM says:

        Ummm….sorry, again, Erik. The DREAM Act has always been a part of the defense Authorizations Bill–it was back in 2007, when it was also opposed and filibustered by the GOP. That is because it is considered vital to military recruitment goals.

        And the stuff about not allowing GOP amendments–that was another tactic to defeat the bill, by loading it down with ridiculous amendments after it had already gone thru the committee process (where amendments are usually proposed, etc.). That is all done by the Senate Rules Committee.

        read this for more history of the DREAM act:

        And here is another example for you–in late 2009/early 2010, there was a bipartisan resolution (Judd Gregg and Kent Conrad) to create a bipartisan commission to address the debt and spending issues (including looking at entitlement spending). It was endorsed by both John McCain and Mitch McConnell, who spoke out frequently in favor of it. Just before it came to a vote, Obama endorsed the idea. And, on January 26th it came to a vote and died in the Senate because it was able to get only 53 votes–a victim of a GOP filibuster. not only did McCain and McConnell vote against it, so did every single GOP sponsor and co-sponsor of the resolution.

        An example of the GOP using the filibuster to torpedo their bipartisan plan for a debt commission…just because Obama signalled support for the effort.
        Read about it here:

        or in the first chapter of the book “It is even worse than it looks” by Mann and Orenstein

        More naked obstructionism–opposing your own bill! Just to prevent progress that might be seen as benefitting Obama!

      16. Erik says:

        You’re still asserting on the Dream act. Whatever extraneous details you wish to highlight, fact is it failed under Bush, it failed under Obama. Partisan obstruction is ruled out.

        I think I acknowledge a certain amount of budgetary gamesmanship, but I still do not buy the broader premise that says there’s no valid critique of Democrat positions.

      17. PM says:


        not content with rewriting history, you are now trying to rewrite your original assertion?
        Do you remember writing this?
        “What did the Senate Republicans prevent us from getting with their filibuster during those years?”

        i answered with the DREAM Act. Clearly, Senate Republicans prevented us from getting immigration reform with their filibuster doing those years.

        So, you lose the point then try to redefine the question? Sounding more and more like Mittens and his po-mo approach to the truth!


      18. Erik says:

        I submit that its fair, as this conversation has gone along, to distinguish between ideological obstruction and naked partisan obstruction. One being fair, and the other being specious, to the extent it exists.

      19. PM says:

        I accept the distinction, but you also have to acknowledge that Obama, by proposing legislation substantially similar to that proposed by W., is again engaging in bipartisan policy making. He is pushing a GOP approach to immigration reform. And, again, this approach was rejected by the Senate GOP via a filibuster.

      20. PM says:

        Further, Erik, there is no way that opposing your own proposed legislation after it is endorsed by the President can possibly be anything but the most opportunistic, naked partisan obstructionism possible. The GOP Senate opposed this bill simply because of the President’s support for it. It was their bill, for Dog’s sake!

  5. Newt says:

    Today’s headline …

    ‘Obama lays out 2nd-term goals’
    ‘The president vows debt-cutting “grand bargain,” and immigration reform’

    What’s today’s date? … Oct. 24, 2012… And when is the election?!

    This idiot had no plan until Romney shamed him into creating one this week.

    Obama thought it would be like hit first term, where the force of his personality could carry millions of small furry voters over the cliff, a second time.

      1. PM says:

        Again, Newt, your “logic” is faulty. If he laid out his goals for a second term today that does not mean that this is the FIRST time that he has laid them out–he could have laid them out any number of times before.

        Seriously, what you think passes for proof of your silly assertions is almost beyond belief…or it would be, except for the low expectations that we all have for your thought processes.

      2. Newt says:

        PM – why don’t you produce a story showing when he laid out his 2nd term plan previous to yesterday? (The plan that hit mailboxes yesterday/)

        Tick, tock…

        And this passge doesn’t help your or Bruce’s case …

        “On a conference call with reporters Tuesday, top Obama adviser David Axelrod said the brochure is a version of the plan Obama has been ‘running on and talking about for months in written form.'”

        The Messianic One had not comitted anything to paper until this week. The “plan” was in his head, if we are to believe Axelrod. In other words, he had no plan.

        Give up. Your boy has been exposed.

      3. PM says:

        Getting a bit jittery/nervous about Athens? getting your airline tickets for….

        Where do conservatives go when they think the US is going to pot? I mean, the common assumption is that liberals will flock over the border for Canada, but they have a national health care program, so that won’t work for you, Newt. South Africa is out (at least since 1994). Chile is gone, Argentina gone,…what is left? China? nice and authoritarian, no national health care, low taxes as long as you know the right people…but you still can’t own your house of the land. I assume Russia is also out after Mittens identified them as the #1 geopolitical enemy. maybe some of the Eastern European countries?

        I know this is an urgent issue, because Athens is on its way!


  6. Joe Loveland says:

    Much more consequential than the Romney v. Obama debates is the never-ending Romney v. Romney debate.

    Whichever side you fall on these issues, how can anyone trust this guy and feel good about him representing America. Utterly soulless. Utterly shameless.

  7. Newt says:

    Wouldn’t it be nice of Obama cared enought about the poor (to the tune of $5 million) that he would take up Trump on his generosity and disclose his college entrance applications.

    But let me utter the word birther before you clowns do.

    The Kenyan is boxed in this time.

  8. Newt says:

    Dude, don’t make your links do the heavy lifting. Use words. I don’t have time to read all the shit you link to.

    P.S. Trump isn’t running for president.

  9. Bless you all for carrying this on so long and so lively. Clearly, this stuff matters to all of us, in differing ways. Long live the debate. No filibusters!

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