Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Presidential Debate Zingers

(Anyone expecting serious political analysis in what follows will find themselves disappointed at best.)  

Well we're only one day away from what the media has been hyping as the most momentous political event of this year's presidential election (at least so far).  It's not that I don't understand how the media has lost all sense, other than their own sense of self-importance, can believe that watching two politicians dodging direct answers to often set up questions in front of cameras is in any way unusual, let alone consequential (at least in a sarcastic way).  After all, there are going to be three more debates for presidential candidates, and one for their running mates.  Of course, such contestation will be on every regular and all the news networks, giving it some significance; but given that many will choose to ignore such posturing, they might also want to consider the importance of the day when the nation's electorate actually gets to cast ballots (unless of course, you think that some of them will be similarly be voting four times) as a day of equal or greater importance.

I've examined the records of these two debate participants (part of the job), noting in passing that this first face-off will be heard in the Rocky Mountain state, and have come to the conclusion that this one may well be shaping up to be as exciting as a singing contest between Coloradans John Denver vs Dan Fogelberg.  Both have delivered some outstanding efforts in the past (Denver and Fogelberg, not Obama and Romney), but neither seems likely to produce an outstanding performance this week, having achieved room temperature some years back (pick your pair here).

The incumbent President's talking heads are already saying that it's likely that Romney will likely win this first debate, citing his experience in recent full contact efforts in the Republican primaries.  This seems somewhat strange, considering in how little esteem they hold any Republicans.  When you add that these same people believe that their candidate is the smartest person on the planet and therefore one who finds such mundane duties as security briefings and meetings with foreign leaders as unnecessary, such pronouncements seem rather incongruous.  There's also something almost tawdry in setting the nation's expectations about your candidate's ability to lead so high, and his ability to defend the way he's done so the last four years so low.

On the other hand, Barack Obama's opponent has shown himself over the last two election cycles as a true 'plain Jane, white bread' Republican, often full of retread ideas; coming off as dull as only a politician can, and as compelling as an allergy commercial.  Being a mainstream Republican, one must also keep in mind his party's latent ability to as the WSJ's Stephen Moore has said, "never to pass up an opportunity to pass up an opportunity", refusing to recognize or take advantage when their opponents expose a policy weakness in a very public way.  

Failure to allow any other serious candidates into the debate since the Ross Perot debacle now means that there's something to be said for the idea that both the media and the two major political parties have turned presidential dialectics into a 'Last Comic Standing' event.  There's compelling evidence to make one think they've succeeded so well, that it's now little more than two clowns doing extended stand-up tours full of their best 'one liners'.  There are those who go even further to say that the tragic humor in this process is that there's far less difference between the party platforms (routines) than they'd like us to believe; much like there's far less difference in the speed at which they're driving the nation off of the 'Thelma and Louise' cliff approaching.

Unfortunately, it's the very media that has been hyping the upcoming contest as critical to deciding who the next leader of this nation is (close elections make good television), that will immediately be casting aside 90% of what's said after the debate is over.  They will instead make a big deal out of a couple of the 'Zingers' delivered by one candidate or another.   The President himself in a recent speech in Las Vegas reinforced this point, hinting that his opponent might even have a 'Zinger advantage'.  

(For those who may not know, a 'Zinger' is a term used to describe a witty remark.  Real Zingers however are cake treats with creme filling, shipped to stores under both the Hostess and Dolly Madison brands, though both are owned by the same Interstate Bakeries.  Neither of the tastier versions unfortunately, will be delivered by either candidate at the debate venue.)         

Based on the writing skills available to current politicians, it seems likely that a memorable line or two might come out of these debates.  Unfortunately, it's equally likely that little else will be remembered from each night's event.  Regardless of political persuasion, these lines will be played ad nauseum on the news, and used in paid political ads as well.  Most are occasionally clever, seldom truly memorable, and usually of far more concern to the media repeating them than to voters who they expect to judge candidates by them.

Without being able to predict the winner of the first debate, let alone the four that follow (including that of the VP's), and without being able to anticipate the eventual victor in election itself; there is one conclusion that I have already been able to come to regarding the entire debate process and its Zingers however:  

I always liked Twinkies better anyway.



Roland Hansen said...

If I zing a zong, does that make me a zinger.
How about zinging a zong about Doublement gum zo we get to double our pleasure and double our fun?
How about a double down on the two major party candidates? I mean, are Romney and Obama the same?

Timothy W Higgins said...

It's exactly that kind of confusion that keeps me firmly in the Twinkies camp. I have however, recently expanded my horizons and my menu to include deep fried Twinkies.