Me against Gray Davis

Well, this should be fun.

An amicable, edifying and ultimately futile debate (the sort The Hannibal Blog loves) in January, between, on one side:

  • Kevin Starr, the preeminent historian of California (and a preferred source of mine), and (see Update below).
  • Sharon Waxman, distinguished journalist and author,
  • Bobby Shriver, Renaissance man and Kennedy/Schwarzenegger clan member, and
  • me

and, on the other side,

  • Gray Davis, the former governor of California, and
  • Van Jones, Obama’s former “green czar”, and
  • Lawrence O’Donnell, cable-TV analyst and, more importantly, father of The West Wing, the most intelligent TV series ever.

My team will argue that, yes,

California is the first failed state.

The other guys will argue the opposite.

Then the audience will annoint the winners.

Feel free to suggest debate strategies/arguments (for either side!) in the comments.

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33 thoughts on “Me against Gray Davis

  1. Congratulations on being chosen to participate in this debate.

    But, is it not a paradox that Gray Davis, who, by the way he was removed from the governorship, is arguably the first “failed” governor, should be arguing that the state he was the “failed” governor of, is not the first “failed” state?

  2. First, I see a distinct advantage because you don’t have a name that looks like a noun or an adjective. I suggest you make fun of the names Gray and Van in some way. Name calling has stood the test of time. Be careful, Kevin Starr could be a liability for this reason.

    Second, if you get backed into a corner, misquote the U.S. constitution with great authority. If necessary, yell at your opponent using your best Austrian accent. This will keep them disoriented and nervous.

    Point out that neither the Angels nor the Dodgers (nor the Giants, nor the As, nor the Padres) made it to the World Series.

    Unfortunately, this won’t help you win. Is there a good example of a state or State that has failed without violence?

  3. I think the promoters are to be congratulated on securing you as a participant, Andreas.

    At risk of being off- topic, or perhaps slightly off- topic, which seems to be worse, let’s remember Churchill:

    “A thousand years scarce serve to form a state. An hour may lay it in the dust.”

    Doesn’t sovereignty, or the state, ultimately depend on violence, however we like to refine the concept, Mr Crotchety? Perhaps they are synonyms.

  4. I am a little late to the discussion tonight, but based on my knowledge of Gray Davis, I’d like to make a pari mutuel bet down at the track for Starr and Kluth. Gray Davis has NO idea who he is up against.

    My advice (from my personal experience in debate with my father): listen, listen, listen until the opposition makes a factual error. Then, pounce politely with some wit. They won’t know what hit em.

  5. There isn’t much market for the debate over here, Andreas. Will we here whisperings on the Hannibal side of Wall Street?

    • I missed that, Exuvia. Do I hear the shaking of continental cutlery? Let’s hope the debate is de-sanitized.

  6. Well, an interesting update, just one day after this went on the website.

    Kevin Starr has now pulled out, claiming that he never assented to arguing FOR the motion in the first place (although the organizers say that he did). So I will have a different team member. What a pity. He is a cavalier and a gentleman in heated debate.

  7. Who this team member is (predicate nominative, guys) will be critical for victory in this debate (and for my bet).

    Judge Blah would be an able partner; he too, is a gentleman in a heated debate (trust me, I know this from personal experience) but…..alas……he is a classic roundhead.

    How about Campbell? (Not that dimwit Campbell Brown on CNN,) but Tom Campbell. He would be smooth as silk.

    Signed,
    Your loyal Earth Pig

    • Campbell would be great, but as a candidate for governor he would not be able to touch the proposition in the affirmative with a barge pole. Ditto for Ronald George, the CA Supreme Court chief justice, with whom I’ve just had a great conversation, but who could never allow himself to speak his mind on certain issues publicly.

      Which reminds me how lucky I am to be able to offend freely and copiously.

  8. Would Kevin Starr be a brother or some such of Ken Starr? If so, you could ask Kevin to ask Ken to take his place. Ken would be good debater, being a lawyer and all.

    • No, they’re not related.

      By the way, guys, I’m not at all involved in choosing the debaters. I was chosen by Intelligence Squared. I will do nothing except wait whom they produce….

  9. You know that pile of paper? You can set fire to that for a start. Climate change – nothing come the Revolution!

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