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Debate Prep? Why?

Presidential Candidates prepare for final debate.
(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

I have a great respect for those with such passionate beliefs that they opt to serve in public office. From school boards to president we are thankful to this small but highly influential group of people who give up their time and energy to work for us.

It seems that the higher the office the more demanding the quest for electoral victory becomes. State legislators and those running for national office become the targets of special interest groups who spend major amounts of money to either smear their names and reputation or praise them to the heavens as the economic or environmental second coming for their respective party platforms.

Famous Debates

There have been many famous debates throughout our history. The Lincoln/Douglas senatorial debates in 1858 are often referred to as one of the most contentious debates ever. Slavery was the major topic of discussion at the time and both sides were very passionate on the topic. After seven debates, Lincoln was defeated but went on to become one of our most revered presidents two years later.

One hundred years later John Kennedy and Richard Nixon got together in the first ever televised debate. Those hearing it on radio thought Nixon won but the youth and charisma of Kennedy won over TV viewers and went on to secure the presidency that year.

In 1976, Gerald Ford literally handed the election to a then unknown Jimmy Carter when he told viewers there was no soviet domination in Europe. Audiences disagreed and showed it at the ballot box.

The closest we came to a third party candidate was in 1992 when Ross Perot joined Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush on stage for the first ever town hall style debate. Clinton was Clinton, Bush was Bush and Perot was Perot. Needless to say Clinton won in this setting and went on to win the election with less than 50% of the vote. Many feel that without Perot taking votes away from Bush, Bush would have probably been re-elected. Although the economy was slipping badly and Perot might not have made that much of a difference to those disappointed with Bush’s handling of things.

Questions About Recent Debates

There are three presidential debates between President Obama and Governor Romney and one between Vice President Joe Biden and Representative Paul Ryan. All four debates have been moderated by, in my humble opinion, two men and two women who have, over the years, demonstrated a bias to the liberal side of the political ideology. Some will call this nitpicky and I would probably have to agree if it were not for at least two instances where the moderators involved themselves in the answering of questions or quickly diverting to another topic when their favorite got in trouble.

My choice, for a fair and balanced debate, would be questions from a panel of two liberal journalists and two conservatives. Liberals would pose their questions to the Republican candidate, and conservatives to the liberal candidate. Then each can rebut as in a normal debate. That seems fair to me.

Why Debate Prep?

After four years in office for President Obama and 23 Republican debates plus two presidential debates for Romney — what do these guys have to prep for? Is there the remotest possibility they might hear a “new” question? I don’t think so. So what are they doing locked away with a counterpart playing their opponent? It’s real simple. They want to make sure they say things the way you want to hear them. So every answer is dissected then dissected again and practiced until the delivery sounds natural. In every since of the word these are today’s equivalent of the carnival barkers of old. “Step right up, one thin dime, one tenth of a dollar, gets you inside to see the greatest show on earth.” P.T. Barnum was right, “There’s a sucker born every minute.” And our job is to get him or her to the voting booth.

Some Final Thoughts

You don’t have to go any further than the news reports following each debate. Economy? Human Rights? Environment? Not even close. First debate, Obama was off his game, not aggressive enough. Romney’s major talking points — NPR and “Big Bird.”

Second Debate, Economy, Oil, National Debt? Sorry — Binders and the Rose Garden.

Vice Presidential Debate, Biden’s body language and Ryan’s drinking problem. Is it any wonder our allies shake their heads when they see this kind of discourse?

How bad is it really? Here’s a Jimmy Kimmel video asking people which candidate won the debate — the afternoon before the debate happened.

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