The presidential debates are obviously a key piece of the campaign-spectacle. Also, the first debate seemed, at least, to have an effect on the polls, or maybe it is a case of post hoc ergo propter hoc to assume so. Maybe the president’s numbers were already headed for a 3% drop.
Like many people who have doubts about the material quality of the debates, as opposed to their infotainment value, I have some questions:
1. Many professionals and amateurs have urged President Obama to set out “a clear vision” in debate number two, but I find myself asking, If the difference in “visions” isn’t clear already, might Visine or Murine be required? Mitt Romney wants seriously to cut taxes for the wealthy and to erode Medicare and Social Security in their present form. He wants to increase the military budget. President Obama wants to raise taxes on people making 250K and over, cut the military budget modestly, and “bend the cost-curve” (as they say) of Medicare, as opposed to eroding entirely via the slow death of vouchers.
The vision “overseas”? President Obama seems more cautious than Mitt Romney. Both seem to want to preserve what is, indubitably, an empire (for better or worse).
Neither talks much about global warming, running out of food and water, fixing the power grid, ending the nightmare of school-testing, improving ravaged cities (or parts thereof), or addressing race and justice, just to name a few things. I’m sure you have your list of “things that go unaddressed.”
In other words, they (the candidates) are more or less he same, except Romney’s plan for the economy is nuts (in my opinion). Even if it isn’t nuts, it’s clear. My larger point being: do we need the debates to clarify anything?
2. Won’t the election come down to President Obama’s “ground game” versus Governor Romney’s ad-flood–more or less?
3. How many people who are actually going to vote remain truly undecided? If it’s a very small %, then to what extent do the debates matter?
4. Not that I think President Obama earned the privilege of being declared “the winner” of the first debate (he was uninspired, to say the least), but that Governor Romney was declared the winner because he lied frequently and energetically is a bit odd, no? I saunter to add that I don’t think the President is a crusader for truth, but still, the sheer volume of evasions and lies from MR was almost amazing. I guess my real question is … what are the criteria for “winning”?
5. To ride a hobby-horse and to suggest something that would make the ratings plummet, I’d make both candidates spend 20 minutes agreeing to certain facts: like where the money in the budget really goes, how much more powerful lobbyists are now than, say, 30 years ago, how close the two parties are on most issues, and so on. Without agreed upon fact, the debates are a mere carousel of talking points, or of locking joints, or something.
6. Should I watch the second debate? Answer: No.