On Saturday, March 6, the ASU Undergraduate Student Government presented a debate between Howard Dean, the former governor of Vermont and chairman of the Democrat Party, and Karl Rove, formerly an aide to Dick Cheney and a confidant of George W. Bush.
The debate was part on an ongoing tour with Dean and Rove visiting college campuses to discuss political issues.
It was political theater at its purest - there were obviously pre-planned laugh lines (barbs about Dean possibly posing for Cosmo, a la Scott Brown, the newly-elected R Senator from Massachusetts), pre-planned applause lines (pretty much any reiteration of current partisan political dogma), the expected finger-pointing ("it's all Obama's/Bush's fault," etc.), and so on.
No one's mind was changed, nor was there any real attempt to change anyone's mind.
Still, it was a highly-entertaining evening for the hundreds in attendance.
And the various volunteers who spent a couple of hours at the entrance to the Gammage Auditorium registering voters and talking to attendees (not too surprising that the crowd for this event was mostly registered to vote already).
And the various candidates for statewide and local offices who worked the crowd right along with the volunteers.
In short, it was a night for political geeks (Hey - who else would be willing to spend their Saturday evening listening to two people who aren't in office or likely to be running for office any time soon, and be willing to *pay* for the privilege? LOL ).
There should be a full write-up of the event in ASU's State Press by Monday. It turns out that when covering events like this, one can focus on taking notes (and thereby miss much of the goings-on) or can instead focus on paying attention to the event (and thereby take lousy notes). Guess which I did? :)
The one downside to the event was the heckling from the crowd. Much of the time, I couldn't hear the two speakers, and I was seated in the center of the third row.
The rudeness wasn't from just one side of the political spectrum either - both Rove and Dean were each shouted down at various times.
If anyone reading this was one of the hecklers, I have this to say -
The event wasn't a political rally, a basketball game between ASU and UA, or a bunch of drunks in a bar pounding down pitchers of beer BS-ing about the issues of the day. Whether or not you agreed with either speaker, you should have shown them, and your neighbors in the audience, some basic courtesy.
Never mind the fact that you embarrassed Arizona in general and ASU in particular (obviously, you didn't care about that anyway), you undermined the credibility of your own positions with your shameless disregard for those around you.