Blue Vs. White: Presidential debate was nothing more than drivel
Published: Thursday, October 11, 2012
Updated: Thursday, October 11, 2012 23:10
Last week’s presidential debate was something that I was looking forward to. Back in 2008, I really could not grasp the debates. I really had not gained any insight into the art of debate or even an interest in politics. However, during the past four years I have gained experience in debate and become much more knowledgeable about issues in the political sphere. I was expecting fleshed-out arguments with details and questions between the candidates that poked holes in their opponent’s argument. I rarely got any of that. Instead I got 90 minutes of worthless rhetorical drivel.
The foreboding of the disappointment of the debate was evident even in the candidates’ preparations. Romney was reportedly working on zingers for the debate, which ironically ended up not sticking at all. However it does not change the fact that our sound bite media and culture take away things like Big Bird as more pertinent than each candidate’s stance on issues like healthcare.
Debates are also supposed to be two opposing arguments rooted in fact and logic. Although that seemed to be the case in the presidential debate, later analysis shows that that really was not so. Upon being fact checked, the majority of claims made by either candidate turned out to be false or a very large stretch of the truth. What good is a debate when both individuals cite studies that say they are right and their opponent is wrong? Despite there being no media bias filtered in, you also lose the fact-checking aspect that the media sometimes provides. Without this check of claims that candidates throw out, it create a setting that makes the debate worthless since candidates can essentially lie without repercussion.
Some people who watched the debate had it as their first time getting involved in the election. If they liked what they heard from a candidate they accepted it and did not bother with fact-checking. If the recent spike in polls for Romney and the overwhelming consensus that he won the debate are anything to go by, the debates have really become about how you speak rather than what you say. People who did not even watch the debate will likely just get the run down from pundits that Romney had simply won and Obama had lost, as opposed to what each individual’s argument was. With this debate setting, candidates are encouraged to say what helps their argument as long as it makes them look presidential.
Ignoring the lack of factual argument from either candidate, the debate still had other factors which made it useless. The moderator’s inability to control the candidates allowed them to stray from the topics and devolve into repetitive phrases. Think about how many times Romney referenced the $716 billion taken out of Medicare or Obama referred to Romney’s $5 trillion tax cut. As if the repetition was not bad enough, there were arguments and statements that simply were not rhetorically sound. For example, on the issue of health care Romney claimed that in his health care plan in Massachusetts they did not cut Medicare while at the same time mentioning that they did not have Medicare to start with. This is a true statement. However, following that same logic I can equally claim that Romney’s health care plan did not kill dinosaurs. Even though dinosaurs are not part of the Massachusetts health care system, they still were not killed. This is an example of statements that sound in support of policy, but really do not mean anything at all.
If you still need more convincing of how much of a joke the presidential debates are turning into, consider this. The biggest talking point from the debate is still Big Bird to the point where the Obama campaign has released an ad on the issue that looks like something straight from “Saturday Night Live” or “The Daily Show.” Let’s be honest, plenty of people in the country were going to vote for their respective candidates before the debate and who ‘won’ will not change their vote. Thus the debates just become a contest of who can best pander to the undecided voters and who can look like they know what they are talking about. Hopefully the next debate will be a little more useful. Although I’m not keeping my hopes up seeing as how thanks to a Pizza Hut promotion, one of the hard-hitting audience questions for the next President of the United States of America could actually be “pepperoni or mushroom?”