Ruppersberger v. Jacobs: The great debate?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Democrat Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger, running for his sixth term from Maryland’s Second Congressional District, and his Republican challenger, Maryland State Senator Nancy Jacobs, debated each other Monday night at a Baltimore County elementary school. What with all those titles, and everything that’s at stake, you’d think it would have been a bigger deal.

Later that same night, President Obama and Mitt Romney had their third debate and there was Monday Night Football and a Major League Baseball playoff game.

Needless to say, the 7 PM Ruppersberger-Jacobs event was not covered by the national media or any of the cable news networks. At least one of the local network stations based in Baltimore sent a reporter who described the event in a very brief and uninformative segment, and there were stories, also brief and uninteresting, in the local print and on-line media. According to the article at the Capital Gazette website, there was “a polarized crowd of about 100 that took turns cheering everything U.S. Rep. C.A. ‘Dutch’ Ruppersberger and State Sen. Nancy Jacobs said.”

One hundred people? Seriously? That many? Okay, I apologize for even minimum sarcasm, the political art and science of which has been recently perfected, and not in a nice way, by President Obama. It’s just that it’s so sad to see such an important office being ignored by the media and therefore by the electorate.

Notice the featured image. It’s horrible. To be blunt, it makes it look like State Senator Jacobs and Congressman Ruppersberger might be dating – an observation I would absolutely make if they were both males, so don’t comment me about it. (Comment me about something else.)

Congressman Ruppersberger knew exactly what he was doing when this picture was taken. (I don’t think Senator Jacobs did.) He was minimizing any differences between the two of them, a visual trick that favors the incumbent. President Obama and Mitt Romney shake hands. They don’t snuggle.

“Geez, look how friendly they are. You know, I wouldn’t be surprised if even she votes for him?” Congressman Ruppersberger did it, staged the shot that is, because he instinctively knew the picture would be more memorable, have a longer, more impressive shelf life than the debate itself that hardly anybody attended or would read or watch later.

“Com’on. It’s just a picture.” Sure. Just a picture, but one more reminder of how we re-elect incumbents, over better qualified challengers, to high office, to the very same Congress, public esteem for which is at record lows. And whose fault is it? The gobs of special interest money that incumbents can raise, but challengers can’t? A media that’s mesmerized by breaking news and other shiny objects? No. It’s our fault for putting up with it.

-Next Contestant

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