Presidential Debates Should be Deemed Cruel and Unusual


Ethan Gach

I write about comics, video games and American politics. I fear death above all things. Just below that is waking up in the morning to go to work. You can follow me on Twitter at @ethangach or at my blog, And though my opinions aren’t for hire, my virtue is.

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18 Responses

  1. Avatar LauraNo says:

    “…the complete jingoistic idiocy of both candidates is forced to be made so abundantly explicit that the sophomoric nature of our democracy is left in plain view for all to see, like a beached whale grumbling lethargically in the morning sun while tourists gather round to take pictures and document this curiously engrossing tragedy.”

    You know the German term ‘shaden fruede’?. We need a term like that for rants like this. “Bunk” doesn’t do it justice.Report

  2. By the way, Wire-related quips aside, I thoroughly agree with this post.Report

  3. Avatar DensityDuck says:

    There’s a reason that candidates don’t bother to make strong, definitive statements anymore. Read my lips: There’s a reason.Report

  4. Avatar Jaybird says:

    Not having watched the debate, I have one main question.

    I’m a Libertarian and I’m pretty dad-gummed far out of the mainstream to the point where I say stuff like “I can’t tell the difference between these two when it comes to Foreign Policy”. My take is that we should go isolationist. (“Don’t you mean non-interventionist?” “Shut up.”) Now, I also know that this view is not held by the vast majority of the country. They like the idea of intervention “When Intervention Is Called For”, they’ll say, (circularly, in my view).

    As such, I know that I don’t have my thumb on the pulse of America.

    With that said, it seems to me that both of these guys are within acceptable tolerances for the public when it comes to When Intervention Is Called For and the drone army is only making When Intervention Is Called For cheaper when it comes to the lives of people we give a crap about (our own (those who aren’t on a list, anyway)).

    Is that accurate? Now, I’m not asking you to tell me how Romney is a war-monger who will drag us into conflict in Syria and Libya while Obama is the sober statesman who will, like Wilson, keep us out of war. I’m more interested in your take on the take of Hoi Polloi on these two guys with regards to Fo Po.Report

    • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Jaybird says:

      From my take on the debates, yes. America Fish Yeah sells, having some other poor bastard die for their country sells, having our poor bastards die for our country does *not* sell, and both candidates explicitly stated policies that covered each of these.Report

  5. Avatar Ethan Gach says:

    I think they are pretty well located in the dead center of public opinion regarding FP, if that’s what you’re asking.

    I also find that terrifying.Report

  6. Avatar Damon says:

    You know the old saw about lies, politicians, and speaking. Nuff said.

    I really don’t understand the dismay/histrionics here. This is new to you? This has been going on for a long time. The key to politics is to be everything to everyone, then reneg on any promises once elected.Report

  7. Avatar James K says:

    Perhaps instead of debates you should consider Alex Tabarrok suggestion of a custom-designed game show.Report

  8. Avatar Pub Editor says:

    it is looking more and more like we should do away with them entirely. No more debates. Just interviews … they should try to move us toward a simple Q & A.

    This may be ironic, but Ethan’s proposal made me think of Rick Warren’s back-to-back interviews of Obama and McCain in 2008.

    In any case the debates aren’t going anywhere. There’s a saying from xkcd that a tradition is anything that happened twice during a Baby Boomer’s childhood/youth. The “tradition” of having three debates between the Democratic nominee and the Republican nominee has solidified. Does anyone remember the flak that George W. Bush took when his campaign tried to decrease the number of debates in 2000?

    Further, in an age of so much media noise, the debates are discrete signals that people can latch onto–especially people who do not otherwise follow politics closely or enjoy following the play-by-play of campaigns. Sure, the debates are artificial kabuki, and not too deep on substance, but the debates are utilitarian microcosms of the campaigns for people who otherwise are not paying much attention but who still plan to vote and want to feel “informed.”Report

  9. Avatar James Hanley says:


    Those who do actual political theater are actually less theatrical and more substantive than the debates. 😉Report