Monday, October 13, 2008

Responding to the Presidential Debate Crisis, by Jason Del Gandio

Barack Obama is supposed to be a brilliant orator and John McCain a straight talking maverick. But if the 2008 presidential debates are any indication, then neither candidate meets the hype. Bright smiles, catchy one-liners, and pre- and post-debate spin rooms neither solve nor address economic crises, energy problems, climate change, foreign affairs, national defense, abortion, same-sex marriage, or supreme court nominations. This simple insight seems lost in our era of superficial political branding. Obama and McCain, as well as their running mates, Joe Biden and Sarah Palin, seem incapable-or really, unwilling-to actually debate one another. They avoid questions, regurgitate talking points, repeat campaign slogans, speak abstractly, and most of all, dodge details of their own policies. On occasion Obama has done slightly better than McCain by varying his responses and providing a few more policy details. And Biden definitely had more substance than Palin; he answered some of the questions. But the debates, as a whole, have been nothing more than run-of-the-mill infocommercials unhelpful for deciding the next president. We as citizens deserve more and the severity of today’s issues demands better. ... We, the American people, must also take some responsibility. This begins with establishing proper criteria for assessing the presidential debates. We all see past the glitz and glam of these Hollywood debates and most of us are tired of it. But what do we actually say when we wage our critiques? How do we actually evaluate and judge the candidates’ performances? What criteria do we use to declare a winner and a loser? Read the rest...

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