If you had the misfortune of setting time aside to watch the three presidential debates and could actually pick out a policy or plan that either candidate supported, then I applaud you. The three debates were nothing more than chances for the two candidates to size one another up, all while hurling insults back and forth and stumbling over their proposed plans for America’s future. All the debates showed me was that both were fighting for the common man.
The first presidential debate was rather tame by this election’s standards. Sure, the mudslinging has been going on, and the smear campaigns were common knowledge, but the two candidates did their best to put on a real debate. Somewhat. After introductions and other formalities, the two got right to it, locking horns and crying shenanigans on the other’s political plans and policies. When the $700 billion bailout plan was discussed, Barack Obama blamed the Bush administration and all of the Republican Party for the failing economy. John McCain would have none of this and lashed out at what he said was Obama’s delightful $800 billion spending plan for the near future, while Obama countered with what his campaign says is McCain’s $300 billion in tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy. While the bickering over who had the bigger economic plan continued, the clock slowly ticked on, and my brain cells slowly committed seppuku to counter the apathy.
Next on the agenda came defense and because McCain served in combat once upon a time, by golly, he knows what he is talking about. After shouting down Obama for wanting to meet with leaders of nations on our black list, McCain proposed a league of democracies to keep bad guys in check. Imagine the Justice League with an unlimited budget and voracious spending ability. Obama, still in his child-like fantasy realm, declared only by peaceful negotiations can sanctions be imposed. It’s akin to politely asking a rabid dog to stop biting your face.
To end the debate, both candidates talked about the energy crisis we have here in the U.S. McCain proposes shifting our focus from foreign oil, digging up Alaska and the coast to plunder oil in our own territory, driving prices down. He also wants to focus more on nuclear energy, calling for more plants to be built. Obama agreed with McCain’s plan, but being the one-upper he is, decided to throw in solar and wind power for good measure. And this was only the first debate.
The next two debates followed similar styles: McCain and Obama shake hands, then walk to opposite sides of stage. McCain blasts Obama for having connections with terrorists. Obama rails Old Man for being old fashioned, belittles terrorist connections, then talks about his magical money fountain and how all of his expensive plans are attainable, and no one will be taxed any more than they are now. In the second debate, the same questions were asked, and the same answers given. The only difference appeared to be the debate location, and the new and exciting insults hurled at one another. If anyone still cared at this point, there was yet another debate.
The third and final debate ultimately declared a winner, and had one candidate pull so far ahead of his opponent that he dropped out of the race. Just kidding. The third debate had Old Man McCain blasting Obama’s 40-year-old connection to an aging hippie terrorist. Obama then declared that McCain was nothing more than George Bush the Third. After several brief mentions of their economic, social, political strategies (all taken from their last debates), McCain brought up the story of his good friend, Joe the Plumber, not to be confused with Mario. Apparently, Joe the Plumber had complained to Obama that under his new tax plan, Joe would be paying more taxes for his plumbing business. Attempting to recruit the common man back into this election, McCain told the story of poor Joe, lost and alone without a tax plan (except McCain’s) to take care of him. By the end of the debate, Joe the Plumber had become a celebrity, and once again, viewers were left with absolutely no understanding of their candidates’ policies or plans for the future.
The debates are supposed to be informative, and show us what our candidate believes in for America. Instead, we were forced to watch three sessions of professional name-calling, all the while trying not to flee for Canada where televisions are rumored not to exist. Would it be so hard for the candidates to simply talk about their plan, how they are going to do it and where they will get the resources? I believe we might as well have nominated two schoolyard brats and then had them face off for the election. Instead, we decided McCain and Obama were better at promising to pass things out and make life easier for everyone, we are going to send one of these fools to the White House. I think it is time for the debate to really rethink its existence.
Bruno Bruelhart is a junior writing and history major from Hobbs, N. M.