The debate season is over, and all I can say is, Thank God. Now in order to be fair, I am going to admit that I am not a huge fan of debates even when they are at their best, but watching these made me sick to my stomach. While watching these debates, I found myself flipping channels to baseball games, reality shows, or whatever happened to be on at that moment.
Now that they are finally over, we can look back at the debates and ask the question, why were the debates so bad? Or at least, why were they worse than usual?
One reason for this is that the rules the debate committee instituted in the first debate got the whole season off to a bad start. Has anybody ever heard of a debate where there was no audience involvement, and the two debaters couldn’t address each other? I mean, that’s the whole point of a debate, isn’t it? To debate things with your opponent?
That debate felt more like two people giving their previously prepared and rehearsed speeches than it felt like an honest and spontaneous debate.
Another reason why the debate didn’t go well was because the two candidates, George Bush and John Kerry, have a genuine dislike and distrust for each other. Obviously, candidates always want to win, but they have a certain respect for each other or at least for the office of the president which keeps the insults and the bashing to a minimum. However, this year, every other word out of Bush and Kerry’s mouths was a reason why the other shouldn’t be president. Occasionally they could go for a half an hour without giving a reason why they should be president and completely relying on telling the audience why their opponent shouldn’t be president.
Finally, most of the blame on why the debates were terrible has to be on the debaters themselves. On one hand, you have Kerry, who would go on in a monotone voice about how he has a plan for the economy and Iraq. However, we never really heard anything else about this so-called plan, as he seemed content to just say, knowing what we know now, Iraq was a mistake, and the president was wrong. Well Mr. Kerry, that isn’t exactly news and it doesn’t do us any help now.
Then you have Bush, who wasn’t any better at all. His debate was filled with awkward pauses and stutters. He also kept talking about how Iraq wasn’t a mistake, and it was his last option. He can’t honestly believe that, because I know that nobody else does. And he always seemed to find a way to fit Kerry’s voting record into every single response. By the end, I really couldn’t stand another second of either one of them.
In conclusion, we have to try and look at who won. My initial response would be to say nobody won because each of them as horrible as the other. However, looking back more carefully, I would say that Kerry was the winner because the debates caused a lot of fence-sitters, most of whom were previously leaning the way of Bush, to dislike each candidate equally. This would explain how Kerry made up the slight difference in the polls in recent weeks.
In conclusion, the debates are over and the candidates are in equally good or bad shape. The winner will be the one who can find the most dirt on the other, and both campaigns are very good at doing that. So let the mud-slinging begin.