The Presidential Debates

My take on this year’s debates and other semi-related matters.

I don’t want to get too political in these blogs. After all, I know that some people have very strong feelings for or against a specific candidate and I don’t want to completely alienate myself from these people.

I’ve been watching bits and pieces of the debates. I say bits and pieces because, frankly, I don’t like debates in general and these debates are among the worst I’ve ever seen.

Here’s the way I see it. A debate should consist of two people with different opinions and views logically presenting their views in a way to convince the audience that their views are right. It should not consist of two people pointing out the shortcomings of each other, offering false evidence as support of claims, or defending themselves against the other’s comments.

From the bits and pieces I’ve seen, both candidates are spending the majority of their time accusing their opponents of various bad decisions and bad results or defending themselves against these claims. George W Bush is, by far, the worst of the bunch in this respect. Last night’s debate — of which I heard 30 minutes from another room and watched 15 minutes on television — showed him in defensive mode almost the entire time. For example, when John Kerry tried hard to present his plan for balancing the budget. Rather than present his plan, Bush blasted Kerry, saying that he wouldn’t keep his word. I still don’t know what Bush plans to do about the budget and how his plan might differ from Kerry’s. Bush came across as a crybaby and, at one point, I actually felt sorry for him.

I watched a tiny bit of the Cheney vs. Edwards debate the other night. I don’t like Cheney. I think he’s evil. The kind of guy James Bond might go after. But I was extremely impressed at the way Edwards held up against him. In fact, Edwards looked pretty good. And Cheney did make a huge blunder when he referred people to FactCheck.com rather than FactCheck.org. The folks at FactCheck.com, which was bombarded with hits that overwhelmed their server, set up a refresh to GeorgeSoros.com. George Soros is about as anti-Bush/Cheney as they get. So Cheney indirectly referred people to a site that blasted him. And, to make matters worse, FactCheck.org, the correct site, wrote an article saying that their site did not say what Cheney claimed it did. It then presented an objective review of the debate that didn’t make Mr. Cheney look very good at all.

Personally, I wish the debates had more substance. I wish the candidates would stick to the topics and not waste so much time blasting each other or defending themselves. This has got to be the dirtiest campaign I’ve ever witnessed. So much mud-slinging about things that aren’t important.

One more thing, although it really doesn’t have to do with the debates. I heard a story on NPR yesterday about how the Bush campaign is using the Secret Service and local police (which are both paid for with our tax dollars) to keep possible Kerry supporters out of Bush presidential campaign rallies. This is to ensure that when Bush speaks, everyone laughs at his jokes or chants “flip-flop” at the appropriate time or boos the competition when prompted.

I think this is wrong on many levels. First of all, America is supposed to be a free country and our Constitution gives us the right to attend public gatherings, including public appearances of the president. Second, why is the president so afraid of a few possible Kerry supporters in the audience? It is because he can’t handle the possibility of a little heckling? If so, how is he able to handle more difficult matters, including the War he’s dragged us into (under what are not proven to be false pretenses), the huge deficit, the sagging economy, and the health care crisis we face? (My health insurance premiums just went up $200 per quarter!) Third, why should the security services taxpayers fund — the Secret Service and local police — be used to keep taxpayers out of a public gathering when they pose no security threat?

John Kerry doesn’t do anything to keep out Bush supporters. John Kerry can handle the heckling he gets at rallys. Who looks like the better man now?

What do you think?