Saturday, October 06, 2012

Debating the debate... in theory

I didn't watch the presidential debate last Wednesday night. I think watching the debates is akin to watching the Oscars; for those who are rooting for one to win they have a vested interest, but for the rest it's a long, mostly boring event where it's mostly worthwhile to have seen only to get the jokes people make on Twitter. The debates lack attractive celebrities in designer wardrobe, so it lacks that angle of appeal, even if one is indifferent about the outcome.

I already know who will get my vote next month, so it's not as though I need any convincing (and it's not like there's any question about which ticket will take the electoral college for the state where I live, even if I was undecided, but let's not digress to that), and I'm emotionally distanced from politics such that I don't need to see in its entirety how well or how poorly that person does; the reality is these days there's plenty of sources for getting the highlights and the gist in capsule form after the fact, without devoting 90 minutes to it.

Hold on. Why do I need to justify not watching the debate? People who did watch it should have to justify that.

The campaign is theater which, as we've seen over and over, has little to do with the day-to-day act of governing after one gets in office. The problem with that is not that it is theater, by the way; the problem is that it's boring theater. I'm not suggesting that running the country should be exciting—I'm quite certain it's not, despite how they made it out on The West Wing. I'm just saying it's separate from whatever a candidate says from behind a podium before the election (which may not really be worth 90 minutes of anyone's time).

As I'm clearly in no position to speak about how the debate went, from what little I heard about it or saw bits of it, the gist appears to be the president seemed less-than-interested to be on the stage. Obama almost came off as a bit annoyed in the scenes I caught, with an attitude that is perhaps justified: I've been working really hard to get health care and trying to get the economy going, and I have to put up with this?

I can speculate that if I were in the position of somehow I were the president and I put up with all the president has put up with over the past four years I'd be annoyed to have to put up with this nonsense. I do like to think I'd be able to put that aside and at least feign interest in participating, but that's only in this hypothetical scenario where I possibly could get elected; the real me would have no patience for all that bullshit in the first place, so this non-hypothetical me, up on that stage, would be nothing but perturbed pretty much the entire time*.

From the standpoint of what's probably best for the man who already has the job, getting out of the White House may not be so bad. It's a stressful, thankless job, and letting Romney bear that brunt for the next four years certainly could benefit his psyche.

I'm not suggesting I think a Romney administration would necessarily be best for the country I'd prefer we have, but I'm not thinking about me or the nation in general; this is merely a risibly glib reaction to a few minutes of hearing about something I didn't witness first-hand and speculating as to what might be going on in the mind of the man in the Oval Office, and empathizing with that hypothetical.

As I've said before, I think one has to be at least moderately nuts to want to run for office (or to aspire to be in charge of others period) so we've always been ruled by the insane; there's little chance anyone with proper mental faculties could deal with the constant criticism and want to seek re-election.

If Romney wins in November, perhaps it will be because he came closer to the electable brand of crazy, and Obama has started to come to his senses in this second campaign.


Bill O'Reilly, on The Daily Show Thursday night, speculated the President may have tanked intentionally, to make it interesting. He had too much of lead and was doing the equivalent of letting the other team sort of muster a comeback, only to make the victory slightly more satisfying.


Maybe Obama has reached the point where being a politician, replete with the necessary façade, is too annoying and he is doubling down on acting the way any sane person would in that scenario.


Others have speculated that Obama's secret agenda for the first debate was to freak out Democrats so they'd quit complacently thinking this election was in the bag and motivate them to actually work to get him elected.

Mission likely accomplished.

But is he really that adept at being such a master politician to so brilliantly seem so unlike a politician for possible political gain?


(* Again, it's best for everyone I'm not in charge of anything. I am fully aware of that.)

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