Last week’s U.S. presidential debate has been analyzed, dissected, and reviewed as if it was the aftermath of an NFL football game.
There was the same bluster from experts, just like a post-game show, only nowhere near as entertaining.
And perhaps therein lies the overall problem with the discourse on how Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney supposedly won the debate over President Barrack Obama.
Frankly I don’t care much for U.S. politics. It offers up more style than substance, more rhetoric than reality and more tales than truth. And sadly it’s becoming the modus operandi of the Conservative Party in Canada, which will only plunge our own political discourse further into the gutter.
However, what did amaze me in the aftermath of the U.S. debate was the talking heads’ perception of what happened.
Here we have a country of citizens that profess their disdain for political attack ads.
This is a nation of voters who constantly want the candidates to talk about the issues instead of the quick-clip rhetoric.
The U.S. news shows are always complaining that politicians are more interested in scoring political points rather than talking about the issues.
So from my point of view, the winner of the debate should have been the American public.
For once the issues were on the table. President Obama didn’t take shots at Romney for his “47 per cent,” comment caught on video. The president didn’t take the opportunity to attack Romney on his tax returns and he didn’t jump at the chance to rehash Romney’s days as the head of Bain Capital.
What the president did, instead, was talk about the issues, present his vision and extol the virtues of higher education as a means of getting the country back on course.
So what did he get for his efforts? Vilified.
He was chastised for not turning the debate into an attack on Romney’s past.
He was ridiculed for taking too much time to explain his vision on education.
Even his own supporters heckled him, for not “going in for the kill,” on Romney and highlighting the Republican’s dubious past.
He did everything Americans wish their politicians would do but don’t really want them to do it, especially when 50 million people tune in during prime time.
His debate performance, according to experts, was blamed on everything from altitude to indifference. Yet none of these experts noted how civil the debate was or how the president tried to present his vision.
I guess we have to remember this is a country that can raise millions of dollars for a college football program yet has a growing class of uneducated citizens.
Here’s a country that has a history of attacking first and then getting the facts later.
So it’s no surprise that even Democrats were disappointed in the president’s attempt to keep the debate civilized and geared towards the facts.
Sure, social media is getting mileage out of the Big Bird comment but that’s not what the NASCAR/MMA nation tunes in for.
They want to see the crashes, they want to see a knockout and they want to see a quarterback get pounded into the ground.
Anything less is considered a disappointment. And if you don’t throw a punch or land a body-crunching hit then you’re branded a loser.
There are still two more presidential debates on the horizon and a vice-president’s debate tonight. So there’s still time for the viewers to see blood in the water.
Remember this is a country that tuned in by the millions to watch O.J. Simpson’s slow motion police chase and turned the trial into a Ringling Brothers circus and proclaimed it “The Trial of the Century.”
This is an audience that has lifted voyeurism and reality shows into “must see TV,” consumed by millions.
There’s not much room for politeness and valid points against those types of expectations.
Guy Bertrand is the managing editor of the Trail Times