The Rumble of O’Reilly and Stewart

I know it’s a couple of days late but I sat down and watched the rumble tonight.

Stewart and O’Reilly walked onto the stage and clearly set the tone that this was a discussion that had no electoral outcomes.  They both were light on the subjects and took everything with a grain of salt, and left nothing back in one liners against each other.

O’Reilly and Stewart immediately were first at odds over domestic issues. Specifically, they were talking about debt and government programs. O’Reilly started railing against  reasoning that most of the problems the country faces are due to the bush presidency. But Stewart countered by correctly asserting our debt and huge deficit is due to Bush and the recession, and that petty things like NPR or birth control coverage are trivial fiscal problems in the face of massive tax cuts and wars.

On foreign policy, O’Reilly repeated the ludicrous idea that Obama is making us weak by somehow giving the impression that we can be stepped on. He is the definition of neoconservative and was full on in promoting the war in Iraq, which made it very surprising to hear him say we should not have gone in. It’s sad to see such simple reversals of ideas that cost so many lives and resources.

A huge collision was on healthcare, where Stewart completely schooled O’Reilly. O’Reilly said the government is incapable of handling healthcare, then went on to explain a free market would have mandates from the government as guidelines, a true conservative thought. Stewart wondered why a nation that can manage a complex organization like the U.S. military, the most professional force in the world, is unable to provide a system in healthcare that has the same idea of service to ones country in the name of common good, which is what healthcare should be about as it is around the world, rather than a for profit industry that deprives many. O’Reilly’s counter was that the military is a “tradition” for the government, and therefore the same ethic and sense of public good cannot be applied. Lame.

The core difference between these two was about what government can and can’t do; what it should and shouldn’t do. I think Stewart had some more forceful arguments but O’Reilly held his own. I half expected O’Reilly to explode, and I’m surprised he tolerated Stewart’s intense satire.  Stewart had the better statements to make on society, like the healthcare comments, but also on government. He asserted that any argument about our government framed into capitalism vs. socialism or good vs. evil is bullshit. We are a social democratic society, and we all agree on a large number of issues since we are more or less different shades of the same thing, making it all the more ridiculous we are so gridlocked.

We need more of this debate from actual decision makers. It doesn’t have to have an election after it either. It can be some half joke platform like this! We need a discussion from all corners of office that is at least mostly attached to facts and not driven by pure political game or ideologues. There was a question from the audience on how it is that two people as opposite as these two could get together to debate, yet people in congress (Republicans) won’t even talk to the opposing side out of some misplaced principle. Maybe we can charge 5 dollars and give it to charity to watch an honest debate or two between the two parties.


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