Friday, October 12, 2012

Presidential Debates, a Primer

“Tis the season for elections, fa-la-la-la-la-ugh.” This is the beginning line of the “Election Carol for Voters”. Written quite some time ago, this delightful song echoes the frustration of the average voter when it comes to the pre-electionbrouhaha.  This is the time of the year when otherwise well-adjusted adults of the human species unleash their innerchild. Remember the days when the teacher would ask the class of second graders a question and each child’s hand would shoot into the air and each child would gleefully squeal, “Ooh ooh, pick me, pick me.” Politicians do the same thing ate lection time, but instead of teachers, it is voters, but the chant is the same, “Ooh ooh, pick me, pick me.”

We have endured months of candidates stumping in the primaries and now for the general election. Stumping is the word that is used to describe the manner in which candidates travel throughout the country and give speeches outlining their stands on the issues and what they are going to do about whatever impending crisis the country faces, real or imagined. The politician claims to be on the average working American’s side, and then uses words like: obfuscation, misappropriation, cronyism, and pontificabsolutionism. This leaves the average American to run for a dictionary (or a nearby English teacher), in a haze of confusion. They are simply stumped.

Now that we are getting within a few weeks of the election, the candidates are debating. This is just like the Wild West shoot out, except without the guns. In a Wild West shoot out there are two enemies who are going to shoot each other dead. On one side of the street, there is a Dalton, on the other is a Clanton, and hiding somewhere, is a sheriff.

The opponents face each other, under the bright light of the noonday sun, and begin to verbally assault each other. They yell things like, “You are a no good, low down, varmint.” or “You’re a lying weasel.” The two opponents continue hurling insults at each other until they run out of insults and then they draw guns on each other and shoot. The loser dies.

In a presidential debate, the scenario is remarkably similar. The two opponents face each other, under the bright lights of TV coverage. They answer questions, asked by a moderator, who is hiding behind the TV cameras, and begin to verbally assault each other by saying things like, “My esteemed opponent doesn’t know his asset from his deficit.” or “The only thing my opponent knows about foreign policy is how to make french fries.”  This continues until the questions run out, the TV stations run out of commercials,or until the first pitch of the Yankees game. At this point the candidates, instead of shooting each other, shake hands like best of friends. This leaves the American voters stumped once again, wondering, “Who won?”

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