To be clear, I am not making reference to the Lincoln Douglas debates, as those were infamous historical political talks between two great speakers and political leaders. I am referring to former political leaders Blanche Lincoln and George Pataki, who are actually on the same side of the issue in question, both being co-chairs for Sheldon Adelson’s Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling. And they didn’t debate each other, but were guests within a week on various conservative talk programs – Lincoln with Mike Huckabee on Fox TV, and Pataki with Michael Medved on his syndicated radio program, to talk about RAWA (Restore America’s Wire Act) and “the evils of online gambling.”
The debate is in how the CSIG decided to deal with the aftermath of each event, as it is very different indeed.
Lincoln’s appearance on Huckabee last Sunday (11/23) is pretty much known to all who read this blog, as is the blowback from the Poker Advocacy community (here, here, and here). It was six minutes of drivel from a paid Adelson shill hosted by a guy who WANTS to be a paid Adelson shill. Fear-mongering? Lots. Fact free? You bet. And it remains prominent on CSIG’s Facebook page and YouTube catalog, though it’s not as prominent as it was on their website (ever since we started to make fun of it).
Pataki’s participation on Hour Two of Medved’s show on 11/14 is…pretty much nowhere. There was as much build up for it on CSIG’s Facebook page as with Lincoln’s TV appearance. During Medved’s radio show they invited folks to call in and ask questions. I mean CSIG did this via Facebook and Twitter, as this was the show’s format (we’re talking talk radio here folks). And after the show…CSIG posted the old video ad of Pataki blasting “legalized online gambling” (yeah, that’s what he called it). No mention of the radio appearance. No podcast on Medved’s website that I can find. Nada. Zilch.
Why the difference? Even though I didn’t hear Pataki, I can guess why.
His performance wasn’t the propaganda extravaganza that Lincoln/Huckabee was. For one thing, it was radio, and that’s not as flashy as TV. Second, it was a Q&A, and my guess is that there weren’t enough strong supporting statements to make into something they could re-bleat…I mean, repeat. Perhaps there were some listeners critical of Pataki’s anti-online-gambling stance (many Libertarians listen to Medved and many are appalled at the anti-states-rights position RAWA’s supporters take).
Hey, maybe they just erased all the tapes ala Rose Mary Woods.
On the other hand, Lincoln’s six minutes with Huckabee is EXACTLY what CSIG wants. It’s propaganda they way they like to do it. It had everything – children in peril, families hurt, organized crime and money laundering, and Lincoln mentioned “the economy” at least once each minute. It had a host who might have been even MORE adamant about people getting on board this issue (Huckabee said that anyone in Congress who wasn’t a supporter should be thrown out of office – nice). And there was no Q&A, or any challenge to any of the statements – just “rah rah rah” from Huckabee.
I watched Lincoln LIVE on the Huckabee program because I feared they’d do the same thing to her appearance as they did Pataki, and I wanted to see just what blather they were spreading (having been out of town when Pataki took to the airwaves). I did a quick review about five minutes after it aired, and considered drafting a letter to Lincoln asking her to substantiate all of the claims she made on the program, starting with the “How big is this Internet Gaming with kids? – IT’S HUGE” declaration. After all, if you know it’s huge, you should know what percentage of players online are minors, and how many families have had their credit cards stolen by their kids for this purpose, etc.
Unless you’re making it up, of course.
Once they posted the show clip on YouTube, I even started a transcription of the show so I could quote her, word for word, but stopped after a minute or so (I have it below so you can read just how bad it was). She really was breathlessly going on from topic to topic, trying to ensure that every potential bad evil horrible thing CSIG has ever considered got aired. It was nauseating to try to keep up with the babble.
That’s why I was so very glad to see Nolan Dalla make his Open Challenge to Blanche Lincoln and the CSIG to a “real public debate” of the issue. For starters, he’s got far more real poker chops than I (we’re both opinionated older guys, but that’s where the comparison ends, as people actually listen to him – and buy him drinks). For another, he knows far more about both poker AND the folks on both OUR side and the other side of the issue. If anyone could negotiate a real, fair debate on the issues of Internet Gaming, it’s Nolan. But, like Nolan, I fear it’ll never happen, and for the same reasons he mentioned. Sheldon and CSIG doesn’t want a debate. Hell, they really don’t want a discussion at all unless they’ve got control of it.
Think about what happened this past year at actual government hearings about online gambling. Anytime reps from Sheldon’s group made an appearance, it was embarrassing (for them) at best, with most of their comments frightfully unknowledgeable about the very issue they sought to ban. They don’t know how things really work, and don’t care. They’ve made up their minds, facts be damned.
And that’s why they had their ass handled to them in these discussions, and why they never wish to debate.
Bet on it.
BONUS: In case you missed it, Senator Lincoln was wearing the same outfit on the Huckabee program as she did in the CSIG ad she did a week before the show posted here. They don’t miss a trick, do they?
BONUS TWO: The transcript of the first minute or so of her spot on Huckabee:
HUCKABEE: How big is this Internet Gaming with kids?LINCOLN: It’s huge, and it’s bad for our kids, it’s bad for our families, and it’s bad for our economy. Because it’s the marginalized…it’s the kids who don’t know what they are doing. Y’know, kids have been playing video games forever. Y’know my boys, my husband Steve and I, we worked hard to follow the guidelines for age-appropriate games, but the fact is they’re used to doing this, and so when they get on they don’t realize it sometimes, um, then, all of the sudden they grab a parent’s phone, they get into it, the credit card. There was a kid that, uh, a single Mom, he stole two of her credit cards, y’know, in a nano-second. Twenty thousand dollars worth of debt on a credit card. I mean, that’s destroying our families, and opportunities that our kids might have, and we gotta do something about it.