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Debates are Overrated: Editorial

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

This is heresy for a journalist whose primary beat is politics: but debates are really a silly way to pick a President.  Has anybody ever applied for a job where the two finalists had to get on a stage and then debate each other on why they and not their opponent should be hired for a job?  Corporations don’t pick new CEOs with such a public spectacle.  If I need a plumber I want to see that they are licensed, bonded, have references and seem to know something about hot water heaters and pvc pipe.  I don’t care if they deliver witty zingers at their opposing plumber or not.  I want a plumber who can make the leak go away, I am not worried about his or her debating skills.  If I get cancer I want the best doctor, not the doctor who gives the best speech.

Millions of Americans however will sit in front of their TV sets Wednesday night watching to see Mitt Romney and Barack H. Obama grandstand, deliver one liners, and feign outrage at their opponent’s perceived unfitness for the job.  I have no idea what it is supposed to prove, but supposedly millions of people will make their voting decision based on their impressions of this made for TV event.  Seriously people, who cares who wins the debates?  Trial lawyer may be the only job in America where debating is even a necessary job skill.  We are electing the chief executive of the United States…..not solicitor general.  The President selects his own lawyer.  He doesn’t actually argue cases in courts.  He has professional speechwriters.    The chief diplomat of the United States is not going to balance the budget by debating the deficit away.

The President is a decision maker not a TV talking head. TV pundits give opinions, they don’t actually DO ANYthing.  After the debates pundits will interview experts in stage presence and body language.  We are hiring the most powerful person in the world not judging the Miss America contest.  Gaffes in the debates will be replayed over and over again on cable news.  Romney supporters will claim he won the debate decisively and Obama supporters will pronounce their guy the victor.  This is an election, NOT ‘American Idol.’  Stage presence is not a trait that should matter in selecting a dentist, much less in selecting a Commander n Chief of the American armed forces yet people are actually going to be swayed by such superficial nonsense?

Yes, I too will be watching the Presidential debates; but no matter what happens my vote is not going to change; because my vote is based on my beliefs and on the records of the candidates not based on 2 or 3 silly TV appearances.  Debates are a silly waste of time in a race that has been reported to death, both guys have been on TV every night for what seems like years, and in which both campaigns have written policy statements on their websites on everything from guns to gay marriage, from immigration policy to international affairs, from energy policy to entitlement reform.

Make your vote based on which guy is closest to you on the issues that matter to you not because somebody looked good on TV last night.

Brandon Moseley is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.

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