The Huntsville Item, Huntsville, TX


December 4, 2007

Candidates’ debatable debates

Even though I am quite interested in politics, I have not been watching the presidential debates. The process began far too early for my interest or even for my approval.

I am much more interested to hear debates about some things that must be acted upon next week or next month than I am to hear candidates explain what they think they will do a year and a half from now (as it was when all this started). I also consider that much of the questioning has been uneven, partisan, and silly. But we are now getting a bit closer to the primaries, and so I suppose my interest has picked up. Perhaps for that reason, I watched some of the debate this past week.

I’m afraid that my opinions about the questioning process did not change much. The ones I observed were selected from YouTube submissions. The mysterious “selection” process itself has since received much attention because by the wildest of coincidences, as it turns out, many of those questioners happen to be declared supporters of candidates from the other party and/or affiliated with organizations such as the Council for American-Islamic Relations. But what once would have seriously damaged any major network's hopes for credibility with the public will, I predict, simply be admitted with a shrug of the shoulders and a statement or two that it should have done better homework to prevent these unforeseen coincidences from occurring. That appears just to be the state of things today. Where is the League of Women Voters when we need it?

But more worrisome to me as I watched the debate, and did not have this post-debate information anyway, was the level of the questioning itself. One fellow, who, incidentally, probably was not a member of the other party, declared rather menacingly into his webcam that “I am Joseph. I am from Dallas, Texas, and how you answer this question will tell us everything we need to know about you.

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