Political Animal


September 13, 2012 11:15 AM Won’t Debate You Unless You Apologize For Your Socialism

By Ed Kilgore

Dumb as presidential elections can get, I am sure readers know it can get a whole lot dumber in House contests, where there are few true “local issues” to liven things up and candidates are mostly running cookie-cutter partisan ads without the inconvenience of much media strutiny (not because reporters aren’t trying, but more because there just ain’t that many of them left outside the very biggest cities).

A good example is one of the most competitive House races in the country, in the 12th district of Georgia, where ever-embattled John Barrow, the last white Democrat in his state’s delegation, is being challenged by Republican state legislator Lee Anderson.

Now I think even Anderson’s closest friends would admit he’s not rhetorically gifted. Complete sentences, particularly those that involve facts and figures, sometimes seem beyond his ken. Indeed, the likelihood that he would get slaughtered in a debate with the incumbent was one of his Republican runoff opponent’s major talking points.

So instead of the usual challenger’s posture of eagerness to debate, Anderson has met Barrrow’s requests with “preconditions,” of the kind Republicans think you need to set when negotiating with the North Koreans or something. Larry Peterson of the Savannah Morning News has the hilarious details:

In politics, it’s usually the challenger who accuses the incumbent of ducking debates.
But in the 12th Congressional District, Democratic Rep. John Barrow says challenger Lee Anderson is shunning them.
Anderson, a Republican state representative from Grovetown, hasn’t refused outright, but wants Barrow to jump through two hoops.
He’ll “consider” a debate if Barrow first discusses on TV his recent tepid endorsement of President Barack Obama.

And, if spokesman Ryan Mahoney adds, Barrow says on camera who he supports for Speaker of the House.

“Barrow,” Mahoney said, “… is incapable of telling the truth to voters … and doesn’t deserve a platform to further promote his empty campaign promises and tired political rhetoric.”

Although saying he’ll answer questions about Obama and his choice for speaker during a debate, Barrow rejects Anderson’s demands.

And now Anderson’s campaign spokesman has issued this non-sequitur:

“Rather than apologize to seniors … for gutting Medicare, entrenched politician John Barrow issued a debate challenge.”

Wonder what’s next? Jim Galloway of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution suggests:

There is talk that Anderson is ready to heap on more requirements intended to even the debating field: Barrow would be required to shave his eyebrows, wear a clown suit with large red pom-pom buttons, and issue all his responses through a nose whistle.
But we have not been able to confirm this.

Sounds about right.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • c u n d gulag on September 13, 2012 11:25 AM:

    Maybe he'll agree to debate if he's allowed to show-up as a Ronald Reagan hologram, and he can then he can sit at home and read answers, provided to him by staffers, into a mic, which will then appear to come out of St. Ronnie's mouth?

    Yeah, yeah - THAT'LL WORK!

  • Th on September 13, 2012 11:38 AM:

    As a Georgian not in Barrow's district, I have repeatedly said he needs to loudly say over and over that he will never vote to cut SS or Medicare benefits and dare Anderson to take the same pledge. He should also pledge to never vote to block-grant Medicaid because Georgia Republicans will use the new freedom to stop covering nursing home care.

    You know his district, Ed. Old people are going to decide this election.

  • Josef K on September 13, 2012 11:55 AM:

    Wonder how many "pre-conditions" Romney will try placing on President Obama before agreeing to a debate.

  • Peter C on September 13, 2012 11:56 AM:

    I guess I'm just old, but I swear I remember a time when hyperbole was rightly seen as a sure sign of a terminally weak argument. John Barrow's voting record seems to me to be closest to that of Olympia Snowe. The idea that he's a 'socialist' is just plain silly.

  • Fugitive P on September 13, 2012 12:41 PM:

    Well, Barrow could agree to Anderson's conditions if Anderson would agree to stop fucking pigs (hat tip to LBJ for that one).

  • jjm on September 13, 2012 12:44 PM:

    Romney won't be able to hack it. Rob Portman as "Obama"???!!!

    I think he'll try that 'condition setting' tactic for the presidential debates and then walk out in a huff when no one agrees.

  • Doug on September 13, 2012 2:38 PM:

    Obviously Anderson wants Barrow to tie himself to Madame Kommisar Pelosi.
    Barrow's response SHOULD be that whomever he ends up supporting will be a better Speaker than someone like Boehner, who doesn't even represent his own party, let alone the House.
    Or is that too mean for Georgia politics?

  • TCinLA on September 13, 2012 5:11 PM:

    Who cares what some tenth-inbred-generation Jawja hillbilly says about anything? It's too bad my ancestors didn't level that place the way Rome did Carthage when they went marching to the sea 150 years ago.

    Crapcha: "system doneusa" - sounds about right to me.

  • Michael Barber on September 13, 2012 6:02 PM:

    WTF is wrong with the media and the constituency in GA? Gives 0 fucks I suppose.

  • yellowdog on September 14, 2012 12:01 AM:

    John Barrow got a brutal redistricting from the Georgia GOP--who made this a tough seat for him to hold.

    Barrow benefits, though, from a less-than-stellar opponent in Anderson. Barrow also has a lot of money--and he picked up the endorsement of the typically GOP Chamber of Commerce.

    Barrow sits on the House Energy and Commerce and Veterans Committees--meaning he is well-positioned to protect the district's nuclear energy and port-based businesses and VA medical complexes. Anderson is trying to tie Barrow to Obama at every opportunity and run the false Mediscare argument. However, Obama's pro-nuclear energy policies actually benefit the district--and Romney and Ryan have big problems the more people know about their plans for Medicare.

    Still, it is now a red district--and Barrow has a lot of work to do if we wants to keep it.

  • Samantha Prabhu on January 18, 2013 5:05 AM:

    And Post looked so dumb to me at the beginning but as i the lines passed it made me to realize how dumb i am to read these dumb post !