Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Debates Are Pointless. Debates Are Not Even Debates.

I watched as much of the town-hall-y debate as I could stand, which involved a precise mathematical calculation of when I was going to pass out, minus an hour to watch House (yeah, it was a rerun. Who cares? I have ten of them saved, thanks to the USA channel's eternal House marathon). I got to see McCain call Obama "That one," and, really, that was enough for me.

Am I the only voter in the country who is tired of presidential candidates using these forums to score points off each other, rather than explain what they think needs to be done? I'm so tired of the "But he voted 120% of the time for blah blah blah," or "And my opponent failed to blah blah blah." Enough. He's a liar and a spinner and a hack. You, alone, stand between us and ruin. Point taken. Move on.

And am I really, truly meant to believe that these two gentlemen (who, by the way, keep telling us how often they work "across the aisle") cannot and do not agree on ANYTHING, EVER? It's absurd. I know they do. I curse the handlers on both sides for forcing their puppets to pretend that there is no common ground, no zone of agreement. How I would have loved either candidate to have said (perhaps on climate change), "We agree on this one, and we look forward to working together, regardless of what job either of us ends up having, come January."

Obama tried during his nomination speech. He said lovely things about how the issues that we obsess over in campaigns are, by and large, issues where common ground is available. We can find common ground on abortion, on gun control, on gay rights. Most of us actually live there, in a sensible middle-ground. But politics is not about coming together to solve problems. That's policy. And we don't do that anymore.

Also, I'd like to institute a police light and siren controlled by the moderator, for use whenever a candidate refuses to answer a question, like when neither Fine Gentleman was willing to say whether health care in this country should be treated as a commodity. Of course they didn't want to answer it--I get that. And I get why--because it would force them to talk about health insurance companies, and whether they should continue to play such an enormous role in raking in cash, raising costs, and screwing up our care. Do providers of health care deserve to make a living? Of course they do. Is it absolutely required that we have a middle-man sitting between them and us, as consumers? One would think that a National Health Care Debate would raise a question like that. But one would be wrong.

And, finally, how are events like this--tightly controlled, narrowly defined, and negotiated to the point of suffocation--supposed to give us insight into anything relevant? All we get are repetitions of what we already know, to reinforce our previously held opinions about everything. I watch that stupid approval meter on CNN, and when McCain speaks, Republicans are happy, and when Obama speaks, Democrats are happy, and so what? I know that, thanks to Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, we've come to believe that our presidents must be protected from spontaneous interactions with the public or the press, but come on. Must we coddle these candidates like infants?

You know what I want? I want the Thunderdome (two men enter, one man leaves. And Tina Turner as moderator). But since I can't have that, I'd settle (happily) for a non-mediated, non-negotiated free-for-all, with anyone able to ask anything, and no time limits, and genuine argument between the candidates to see what they say and how they react as real people put on the spot, and (please, God) plentiful boo-ing from the crowd. And perhaps a little dramatic waving of pitchforks, just to keep them honest.

Please? Once?

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