Friday, September 26, 2008

No Fan of Debates, Either


I was really kind of hoping this one would be cancelled. There are two reasons, primarily:

1. I still think the financial crisis is more critical. Yeah, we need to know what our potential leaders think, but this crisis is going to affect more people in this country for a longer time than a mere 4 or even 8 year administration ever will. We need to get this one right, even though I fear we will not.

2. Along the lines of knowing what our potential leaders think, debates in modern politics don't do that. Here's the rub: thanks to modern media, the internet, and a plethora of opinionated people (present company included), if we don't know the candidates by this time after more than a year of listening to their dribble, the debate ain't gonna fill that void. The one possible exception to this axiom is Sarah Palin. Still relatively unknown, even to those who are throwing their whole-hearted support her way (including your gracious Blog Host), the VP debate may yet reveal some qualities about Palin that have not yet been reported. This is especially true since the MSM weevils insist on reporting everything BUT where Palin stands on the issues. Her "interviews" with Gibson and Couric were both carefully transcripted so as to show her as not having ready answers to anything, and made her statement about getting back to Couric on one specific question seem weak. It was a perfectly reasonable response to a question designed as a media "gotcha."

Otherwise, debates in modern politics are the functional equivalent of beauty pageants. They are designed by the same geniuses that long ago decided to cater to America's incredible shrinking attention span by providing us everything we need to know in soundbites of 1 minute or less. May as well dress McCain and Obama in swimsuits, have them pivot a time or two, then answer "The Question" (answer: world peace!) for the benefit of our media judges, whose opinions of who won seem to be the only ones that matter.

Will I watch the debates? Maybe. I'm definitely more interested in the Vice Presidential debate than the Presidential ones, if more for the potential entertainment value than the political "capital" that will be claimed by both sides. Debates are fascinating things. They seem to mirror our predilection for so-called "reality TV." It's like watching a season of "Survivor: Washington, D. C." for two years. The debates are designed to show how the contestants can outmaneuver each other, stab each other in the back, make alliances they have no intention of ever keeping, and generally showing what schmucks they are. It's not politics at its finest.

So with morbid fascination, America will watch tonight's debate between McCain and Obama. My prediction: each side will claim victory on principle and no one's mind will be made up.


No comments: