Monday, January 09, 2012

Reading debates.

NOW, LISTEN HERE. I'm one of those old geezers who lacks a fascination with the television as a medium for everything. Weather channel this and shopping channel that. I also feel the television is not a great place to experience a Presidential debate, which plays out like (American) football, punctuated by endless and irrelevant advertisements, more filling than crust in my opinion.

Which is why I like to snuggle up in an old office chair, a cup of heated chocolate drink in one hand and a debate transcript glaring loudly on the monitor, appropriately playing Last of the Country Gentlemen as the backdrop to this cabal of Southern-wannabes, and a great country album altogether if any one person were to be so inclined. Although I might not have the good chocolate or a particularly comfortable chair, I can get through what is sure to be an uncomfortable experience faster than fiddling with the remote control. ABC, which co-sponsored the debate I'm reading in conjunction with Yahoo, makes it quite simple: like all the cool kids, their website offers a pre-formatted PDF option for particularizing people like me.


Not that much was picked off of this debate besides that comically out-of-touch bet from Mitt-Mitt. These 'debates' rehash so much territory they are akin to the Christmas specials of election cycles; they only produce new ones because candidates die or drop out. However, I'm not here, today, standing here today to whine about implausible candidates, nonviable promises or impossibly perfect coifs that supposedly don't need pomade. It is the state of the debate as a whole, this time around, that worries me now, if you can call these sordid hours of television a debate. The candidates get a lot of practice in folksy stuttering, the fine art of circle jerking, and ignoring Ron Paul; they can dodge questions like the Matrix and massage their singular life accomplishments into their very existence and being. (If I experience any more Republican debates I might start to believe that Romney is the Tenth Amendment, and the Tenth Amendment is Romney, and on the sixth day he created healthcare, and he saw that healthcare was good, but only for Massachusetts, because each state should decide what's good for itself, except of course for Texas.) Spoken like true career politicians, but haven't you heard, you can be run for office three times, spend three decades in Congress and three terms as governor and still not be a career politician.

The last presidential debate I've seen was three or four years ago, but I distinctly remember a certain rigidity, a certain programmatic element and mechanical progression, even if that was Obama vs McCain and this here's a field of lightweights. The moderators stuck to the script, asked questions and made sure the candidates did too (no, Mr. Gingrich, you do not get four portions of time even if you were attacked on four different points) instead of turning an inquiry about how they'll fix the dismal economy into a parade of the children you've sired by your wives. Although it's possible any one of the other four and twenty debates are more substantial than the 18,000 and counting words I've just read, ephemeral like the foam of the sea, and I just happened to pick on the runt of the litter, it's possible, yes.