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Next Debate, Bring The Defibrillator

It was bizarre but irresistible. CNN televised the great debate Friday night with a running graph along the bottom of the screen purporting to measure audience reaction. The red line for Republicans, blue for Democrats and green for indies.
Supposedly, when one faction or another scored debate points their corresponding line would spike like the Dow hasn’t done in weeks.
It said something about the tenor of the exchange that the graph flat-lined for most of the debate. If a hospital patient had been attached to that monitor, a team of doctors and nurses would have rushed into the auditorium armed with defibrillator paddles.
McCain jabbed but Obama for the most part refused to counter punch. I kept hoping, as McCain talked about his career-long crusade against graph and corruption, for Obama to dredge up the Keating Five S&L scandal, which has enough resemblance to the currently banking mess that it would even sound vaguely pertinent.
Obama wouldn’t. He took the punches with an incessant half-smile. It was maddening to watch. His rope-a-dope strategy probably was sensible politics, particularly for a fellow who wants to avoid looking like the so-called “angry black man,” but geez, it robbed the encounter of its entertainment potential.
Why not turn it into a mindless fight? It wasn’t as if either candidate had the courage to tell Americans that our economy is screwed nearly beyond repair and that no matter who wins, they won’t have any money to pursue their pet projects. Or that the Russia incursion in Georgia was not the simple, unprovoked display of totalitarian cold war aggression both candidates described. Or that to most of us, the difference between “preconditions” and “preparation” before meeting with the Iranian leadership sounds, well, not worth arguing about.
CNN needs to add another line, to measure those of us not particularly interested in watching a couple cordial fellows feigning substance – a purple line for bruises, kicks, ear biting points. You know, something for us empty headed Americans warming up for a big hard-hitting football weekend.


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