No Debate

So, the Presidential Debates are over.  And it’s time for me to make a confession of sorts … I didn’t watch.  Not the Vice-Presidential Debate either.  Oh, yeah, I took a few peeks and watched a few clips online but that was about as much as I could stand.   I’m not going to defend my choice … I’ve got too much water under the bridge to feel that need … but I am going to explain it.  I will say up front that I know who I am going to vote for but that was not the deciding factor.   Primarily, I didn’t watch because I find the whole process contrived and a scary indictment of how we choose our president.   When I watch, I end up disliking both candidates and even more cynical than usual.

For one, the debates are not debates.  The candidates may not agree on much but they do agree on a set of rules that assures they can duck any questions asked or stretch the truth without being taken to task.  And they do agree in advance to restrain the moderator  from forcing them to go deeper with follow-up questions.  I’m convinced that the candidate’s debate prep we hear so much about has more to do with what not to say than informing the public.  The debates are 90% about appearances which makes me crazy.  As Malcolm Gladwell said in his book, Blink, the quest for someone who looked presidential gave us our worst president ever, Warren G. Harding.   Really, can’t a likeable man be a horrible president and a snarky man be a good one?   Don’t passion and reason both have a place in leadership?  Just ask Captain Kirk.

Then, there’s the aftermath.  Within minutes of the closing handshake, news organizations with traditional biases roll out their focus groups of statistically insignificant numbers to tell us who won.   A reputable news source like the Wall Street Journal will offer crap like, Who Won the Presidential Debate? Notable People Weigh In On Twitter, offering Tweets by other politicians, comedians and (gasp) celebrities about the debate.  Don’t get me started on governance by Tweet.   Talking heads posing as journalists will spout their biased unbiased opinions, on TV and online from both sides of the aisle.  Political operatives will spin, spin, spin. I find it interesting that the best summary of the debates I can find is on the site of a fellow blogger, thesinglecell.  What’s that say about our national media?  Come morning, Rush Limbaugh will tell his listeners what really happened.  And the polls may or may not shift.  Over what?

I am not an uninformed voter.  I read a variety of sources on each candidate, considering their experience, their record, what they say they will do and their history on doing what they said they’d do in the past.   I tend to decide on broad strokes plus a few specific issues that I see as most important.  As a conservative on fiscal issues and defense with a more moderate view on social issues (and a libertarian streak thrown in for spice), I don’t expect to find a candidate I can agree with completely.  But when it comes to watching the Presidential Debate, in my mind, there’s No Debate.    I’ll paraphrase a quote attributed to Otto van Bismarck as, Two things you never want to watch are sausage being made and your legislature at work.  I would make that three things.

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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6 Comments on “No Debate”


  1. I did NOT watch he debates either. And then I had to avoid Facebook and Twitter during the aftermath too – people got really ugly this year – and it was too much NOISE for me to listen.

    I am informed, and I know who I will be voting for, and why I am voting for them.


  2. Yep. I feel awful for not writing up the last two debates now. I’ve fallen down on the job. Maybe I’ll synthesize them somehow. But a gander at my Political Snark category will be very informative for all, I hope. And Bud, thank you so much for finding my summaries so useful. I very much appreciate the feedback.

    As for your thoughts – I think you’re right about the debates. In fact, that’s exactly why I write the summaries – so that people who are turned off by the process can still get the information they need (with the occasional pinch of snark here and there). And I call them like I see them so we can all avoid the overprocessing of the post-debate spin and “fair time” caveats that sometimes distort reality by making everything equal when not everything is.

    Still, as you know I will say, I think it’s important to take in as much as we can during the electoral and campaign process. What we hear, what we don’t hear, what we see and what we don’t see in everything from policy to body language can affect our decision. I hope that people who don’t enjoy the process have a greater appreciation for those who do, and who therefore write so that things can be easier to digest.

  3. Cheryl P. Says:

    I don’t find any fault at all in you for not watching the debates. I watched all of them and found them irritating. I don’t feel like I gained any insight to either candidate’s positions that I wasn’t already aware of prior to the debates. After they were over, I found that many of the comments of the media were taken out of context and didn’t represent how I heard or understood certain comments during the actual debate. Plus I found some of the combativeness off-putting.

    I voted today during early voting so it’s a done deal as far as who got my vote.

    I agree with your comments concerning the process. It becomes increasingly a product of spin, spin., spin.. Celebrities, social media, mainstream media seem to be unabashedly promoting their “team”.


  4. Boy, I find it very comforting to hear you and other readers comment about the debates being a bunch of bunk! I didn’t watch Debate #1 but I did watch the V-P debate and had the tv tuned into Debate #2 and #3 -although I may have nodded off a few times amidst the turmoil of #2 and #3. Frankly, I thought debates were set up differently in terms of rules of order type stuff -particularly interruptions. Maybe I’m wrong there but I found the constant interruptions and stammering then of either side before finally saying why they had to interrupt the other to be very annoying. The whole process of blaming this or that person or party to me is totally ridiculous when the majority of the blame is just out and out lies much of the time. Frankly, I think women should be in charge of anything pertaining to budget -but only women who have had to actually LIVE within a very meager, tight, budget and who know how to pinch a penny. And I can’t think of a single politician who has had to deal with circumstances like that in many, many, many years and therefore has forgotten to bargain shop and how its done! Like you and your readers I regard the debates as a waste of time and money in that rarely does anything of substance and truth emerge from them. Which reminds me -who does pay for the expense of the debates anyway?


  5. Best Regards Veronica

  6. Derek Zenith Says:

    The debates were horrid. There was no debate, just interruptions, even (especially) on the part of the moderators. And our Vice President behaved like a five-year-old.


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