A Solution to the Problem of Roaring Mouths Saying Nothing
Leonard Pitts Jr
It was in 2008, the debate between vice-presidential candidates
In other words, she felt no particular obligation to answer the questions she was asked. Her obligation was to her talking points.
Not to pick on Palin. Truth is, there are few things more fully bipartisan than ducking a question. The art of making sound while saying nothing has become so ordinary and ubiquitous a part of politics as to defy notice, like wallpaper. The process takes on the flavor of twice-chewed gum, the players playing their prescribed roles in which interviewers pretend to believe they will get straight answers and politicians pretend to believe they have given them. And then TV and radio pundits spin the nothing that was said, tell us who to blame, who to scorn, who to fear, at decibel levels that would humble a jet engine.
"In other words," says Kilmer, "you have to show up with a solution and defend it. You're going to be asked follow-up questions. Your statements are going to be fact checked in real time and appear on the screen." The moderator will be empowered to enforce those rules.
There's just one problem with all that: Kilmer is not a TV producer. Never has been. Rather, he is a
All that to say his crusade is, in a word, quixotic.
But Kilmer is undaunted. Even though he's been pushing this for a few years without getting close to getting close to success. Kilmer is a man on a mission, driven by a simple, righteous conviction that when it comes to political discourse, the American people need -- and deserve -- better than they are getting.
"What I and people like me have in common -- and we're growing in number -- is, we've been involved with political parties and that's all well and good but at this point, we are so concerned about the level of debate in this country, the climate, that we don't necessarily care who wins the debate anymore as much as we care about the argument itself. The most popular shows out there often involve people behaving in a way that we would not tolerate from our 10-year-olds. And yet, they are the standards. They're number one."
"Partisanship and no-compromise politics and talking-points politics," says Kilmer, "are driving this country over a cliff."
Kilmer says he doesn't care about getting famous or rich. When his show was on the radio, he didn't even seek advertisers. No, he tilts at windmills because he can't not, because somebody's got to do something. Call it one citizen's rebuke of the failings of politics and media. And yes, Kilmer knows the odds are -- putting it mildly -- against him. Does that discourage him? He insists it does not.
"And I'll tell you why," he says. "Because I'm right about this."
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