Highly Debatable!

Oct 17, 2012 | 5 comments

Last night I tried to watch the Presidential Debate. Again! But, as with previous attempts, I found that I could pay attention for only a few minutes. Then I felt an overwhelming desire to leave the room and fix dinner.

I know I should take full responsibility for this lack in myself. I should be able to focus on the discussion of these important issues for more than fifteen minutes. In attempting to analyze my repeated failure to do so, however, I keep coming back to the word “debate.” I’ve decided that underlying my lack of attention span is a total misunderstanding of what I’m watching.

At my father’s urging, I took Debate in high school and again in college. He had been on the Debate Team at the University of Redlands and had loved it. Me,.. not so much. I, perhaps, am way too literal. I could never understand why (or even how) I should be looking at the question of fair trade, for instance, versus competition in business. I could never see those questions as anything but non-issues. The world isn’t, hasn’t, won’t be one way or the othert so why waste time jawing about it.  Let’s talk about how to work within what we have…

But, I did appreciate the format of formal, parliamentary debate in which two teams with two debaters each talk about a defined subject within strict time limits. It was like a game and there were rules and points were given or taken away. That I could understand.

Nowadays, though, we have “Town Hall Presidential Debates” which are different from “Parliamentary Debates” and, although there seem to be rules, I can’t see that anyone follows them. In fact, I can’t really reiterate the topics. The moderator asks a question and then the candidate seems to respond with whatever occurs to him.

Never mind whether he is answering the question or even touching vaguely on the topic at hand. It seems to be an exercise in how many of the same-old campaign issues can be regurgitated before the other candidate interrupts or the moderator finally steps in because the time has long since gone by.

So, I find myself adding and subtracting imaginary points for facial expressions, politeness, firmness of manner. I don’t think these are good bases for choosing our next Commander-in-Chief.

I fixed chicken, sautéed onions and potatoes and steamed broccoli.



  1. Brigid

    Deserving of the New Yorker. Send it off, please!

  2. Jo

    I had the same problem…I ended up watching “Call the Midwife” on PBS. The debates just confused me.

  3. Jean

    I totally agree, if they would just tell us what they want to do and how they intend on doing it instead of bashing the other guy, it would be refreshing

  4. Stephanie Frieze

    No one ever actually answers the questions and I know for a fact that one of them lied like a rug. They pander to the “undecided” and I think if at this stage of the game you allegedly haven’t made up your mind, you are an idiot and ought not to vote at all. Since they weren’t talking to you Sydney, you were probably better off fixing a yummy dinner. That said, I’m off to work on someone’s campaign.

  5. Kathleen Shaw

    My sister did watch (I don’t have television) and her response was to quote the old Gary Larson cartoon–a two-parter, where the top half is labeled “What We Say to Dogs” and the bottom half is labeled “What Dogs Hear.” The bottom half’s thought bubble from the dog says “blah blah blah Ginger, blah blah blah Ginger!” ‘Nuff said.


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