What’s Wrong With The U.S. Presidential Debates?

Why are the U.S. presidential debates so tedious to watch when there is so much riding on the outcome?  Why are these debates so gosh darn uninspiring, so much so that most Americans do not watch when just the opposite should be the attained goal?  Why are these question and answer sessions called debates when in all actuality there is very little, if any debating going on?  The audiences are warned at the start of each debate that applause is completely prohibited.  The audiences are allowed to applaud only when both candidates enter the television studio and then at the conclusion of the debate.  There are no momentum swings, no home-party advantage, no heart nor any soul to these nearly scripted conversations.  Tonight’s debate will be a question and answer session with the audience.  However, both President Barack Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney will have rehearsed their canned answers to any possible question well in advance.  To call these political discussions debates is a little like calling fast food fine cuisine.

One of the greatest all-time memorable moments in presidential debate history occurred in 1988 when Senator Lloyd Bentsen of Texas remarked to Senator Dan Quayle of Indiana, “Senator, I served with Jack Kennedy.  I knew Jack Kennedy.  Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine.  Senator, you’re no Jack Kennedy.”  The crowd reaction was a combination shock, roar and rambunctious applause.  This is what is greatly lacking with the current setup.  Compared to round one of Barack Obama-Mitt Romney, the Joe Biden-Paul Ryan debate was a boisterous affair.  Martha Raddatz was a great moderator, intelligent and very well-informed.  Republican consultant and former McCain-Palin senior adviser Steve Schmidt, a Republican I greatly respect said it best just moments after the debate ended; “It was a fiery debate!”  What would have been a truly entertaining debate this election season would be Vice-President Biden going up against Mr. Romney.

I am not implying that we need some sort of Jerry Springer/Maury Povich style confrontation; however, these debates are truly absent of any signs of enthusiasm, compassion, heart and soul.  What these debates truly lack is any sign of humanity.

Steven H. Spring

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