I’ve got nothing of any use to say about the vice-presidential debate. I keep trying to generate a head of steam about it, but it’s a no go. Even the big post-debate talking point on the Kerry-Edwards side, in which Cheney’s snark comment about never having met Edwards before was countered with a picture of the two of them standing side by side, fills me with an overwhelming sense of not caring. These guys jab at each other for 90 minutes, and this is the big gaffe? Wake me when it’s November, people.

Don’t confuse my lack of excitement with apathy; you know I’m voting. And I cheerfully cede the point that some certain number of undecided voters may have gotten something out of the debates, and that the party faithful on both ends will use this as a fetish around which they will flagellate, as required by their faith. Good for them. But, being one of those super-committed but non-fanatical voters who needs no convincing at this point not to vote for Cheney’s boss, I approach all of these pre-vote preliminaries with a distinct lack of interest. Unless Dick and John pulled out knives and danced around slashing at each other just like those guys in the “Beat It” video, this show wasn’t meant for me.

I’ve also made the executive decision that I’m not going to bother viewing Presidential debates two and three. Living as we do in a media age, I fully expect that any particularly juicy slip, gaffe, zinger or (heaven forfend) substantive policy point will be exhaustively essayed, like highlights of a football game, and at the end I will have the transcripts, which I can read in a matter of ten minutes, thereby freeing up all that debate time to do something more useful with my life, like do math with Athena or taunt my cats with bacon. Mmmmm, bacon.

I really do wish I cared more about the debates; I feel like I should. But I gotta tell you, I’ve been racking my brain to imagine a scenario in which I don’t vote for Kerry, or even possibly where I might vote for Bush, and it’s just not happening. I have to get way out there — things like Kerry saying at the next debate that he plans to fill his administration’s highest positions with pederasts, koalas and Babylon 5 fans (or some unholy combination thereof) and then address the United Nations dressed only in yogurt and aluminum foil — before I begin to waver in my convictions. It’s just not likely.

That said, honestly, what do the debates hold for the likes of me? I’ve got science fiction movies to watch. I think on Thursday I’ll watch Invasion of the Body Snatchers. The 1956 version is 80 minutes long. Just long enough to avoid the debate. Coincidence? Yes. But a happy one. I’ll take it.

26 Comments on “Eh.”

  1. I’m actually glad for the debates for the reason you suggest at the end: it frees up some time in the middle of the new TV season for watching movies and whatnot. Given how limiting these debate forums are (“Answer in ninety seconds, we’ll buzz you if you go over, every audience member is wearing a ball gag, don’t address one another or the electrodes will zap you, all questions have been written by some member of our wonderful Gotcha! media….”), I’m pretty well convinced that I’m unlikely to miss anything. Since the post-debate blogging after last week focused on whether Bush received talking points through an earpiece or whether Kerry used an illegal crib sheet, I think I’ve made the right decision.

  2. This is still unreadable for me — black on right quarter of screen, comments line in exceedingly pale color that blends into background. Safari 1.2.3, Mac running latest everything.

    Fix it, John. I don’t want to have to give up the Whatever! :-(

  3. Mary Anne, I can’t do anything about that — I’m not serving up any dark pictures. It’s up to you to clear out your Web cache to get rid of earlier graphics your computer has stored.

  4. Frankly, I’d like to see the debates be actual debates. Last week’s presidential debate surely wasn’t a real debate and I’m sure the remaining two won’t be, either. And the participants should be required to actually answer the questions given. We kept getting annoyed with Edwards last night for saying, “Well, before I answer that, I want to go back to the last question.” That’s crap.

  5. I could hardly get thru that debate. Do you think Cheney’s strategy was to be soooo boring that everyone would turn it off? And I was amazed that part of his answer to the question about why he was qualified to be vice president, one heartbeat away from the presidency, was the fact that he had no ambition to be president!

  6. I’m with you on the total waste of time. What did I learn? Cheney is an ogre and Edwards is kind of a doof. (Enough of one, actually, that I’m somewhat embarrassed about voting for him in the primary.) It’s enough to make me wish Bush and Kerry long, healthy lives.

    Oh, and on your plans — enjoy your movie Thursday. But the debate’s on Friday.

  7. Steve Eley says:

    “Enjoy your movie Thursday. But the debate’s on Friday.”

    For Friday, I have Sleeper and The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai!

  8. John,

    I hope you change your mind about viewing debates 2 and 3. In this day and age, it is very important to see for yourself. Trust no one!

    I dislike the fact that the pre and post-debate spin is all over the place, and it is blatantly untrustworthy. You can find spin that will try to convince you that black is white. I am suspicious of spin I disagree with, of course, but I’m even suspicious of the spin I agree with.

    So even though I doubt the debates will change my vote, for my own integrity I am watching all the debates and using my own judgement.

    Future debates will require a three hour commitment from you, no commercials. I urge you (and everyone, whatever your politics) to make that commitment, for your own integrity.

  9. My response to listening to the debate last night for 30 minutes (my car ride home before I got bored) was to compare it to an Episode of Buffy.

    Not sure of the name, but it is the one that involves beer designed to make college kids stupid.

    The whole debate could be summed up by one of my favorite lines:

    “No, YOU stupid!” [said in a slurred voice with emphasis].

    The amount of back and forth about who had what numbers wrong was just annoying.

  10. One more comment – reading the transcripts is not good enough. You will miss much of the message, and will likely fill in the blanks with your own imagination.

    I don’t think I’m being partisan. We tell our media we want facts with no spin, and yet we ignore the facts when presented, and use our precious time watching the spin. We’ll skip the debate and then watch the post-debate arguments for hours. Something is wrong with that. Seriously. It is not enough to SAY things should be a certain way. We have to walk the walk as well as talk the talk.

    Damn it, it is your civic duty!

  11. My two cents: I like the bigger print but I hate the shaded background (I have to use a fairly dark glare screen and the shading makes the print kind of fade away).

    Working at a Journalism School, I know far more about the debates than I want to without ever having to watch one. But if Kerry dresses up in yogurt and aluminum foil, please let me know…

  12. Tripp says:

    “Future debates will require a three hour commitment from you, no commercials. I urge you (and everyone, whatever your politics) to make that commitment, for your own integrity.”

    Are you suggesting that people who *don’t* watch the debates have less integrity than those who do?

    I doubt I’ll change my mind on that matter. My vote is already *very* well-informed by the factual positions of the candidates plus knowledge of the real-world repercussions of their policies and actions; the debates themselves will add little to that than some dinner theater. And as I said, if there’s something particularly compelling that requires viewing, I can certainly do that; repeats of the debate video are available on almost every New Web site along with the transcripts.

    In my opinion *my* time is better spent doing other things. Other people’s time may be better spent watching the debate rather than doing something else.

  13. I agree with John. The spin about the debates is actually more interesting (and more influential) than the so-called debates themselves.

    I don’t see a necessary connection between watching the debates and becoming politically well-informed.

  14. There is no connection between the debates and being an informed voter. Unless you review Kerry’s voting record and research Bush’s decision yourself, all you are doing is absorbing a pre-chewed mass of opinions whether it is from a debate or a pundit.

    The most informed voters I know still are simple well informed on the facts highlighted by their favourite news source, not by personal research.

    Ultimately, selection of a President takes place at 30,000 feet above the actual events occuring in America. I still maintain that it is a huge time wasting distraction formulated to give you a warm fuzzy thinking that you are participating in a system that is really autonomous.

    Your time is really better spent becoming better informed about your state senators and local officials. At least they are working at the level where the rubber hits the road and not in the stratosphere of “strategery”

  15. man, im new to the Whatever but you are like a gift from god or something. i couldn’t have said it better myself

  16. Mike:

    If you are talking about my comment, then I thank you very much. If you are talking about the site, then I join you in your appreciation for John and his site. It’s a great place for friendly discussion and maybe a little enlightenment along the way.

  17. John, you have once again proven your coolness. “Adventures of Buckeroo Bonzai” is an excellent selection for a Friday evening.

    Dawn B., that Buffy episode is titled “Beer Bad”. Are you saying that the debate had the Veep candidates drawing on walls and sniffing boys and pounding on TVs to bring back the tiny people playing music? ‘Cause that would be funny. (I’m such a geek, I know.)

    I haven’t watched the VP debate yet, since I wasn’t home, but I did tape it and am planning on watching it tonight. While I know it won’t change my mind and all post-debate analysis points to it being a draw and a bore-fest, I’m still curious to see it for myself.

  18. John,

    “Are you suggesting that people who *don’t* watch the debates have less integrity than those who do?”

    I made too general of a statement. What I meant was that people who make statements about a candidate’s personality or character based soley on secondhand information have less integrity than those people who see for themselves.

    I take the point that televised debates are scripted and rehearsed and hardly give a view into the candidate’s inner-most character, but I still think they are better than nothing.

    I also take the point that debates are usually less fun than hearing the post-debate arguments. Debates can even be a chore to watch, but I think it is work worth doing.

    As an analogy, would you review a movie by reading the script, reading what other people have said about it, researching the background, but not actually watching the movie?

    Personally, I have changed my opinion of someone after seeing him/her in a debate. Because there is so much spinning going on secondhand information about non-verifiable things is not to be trusted.

    Is Bush ‘presidential?’ Is Kerry ‘presidential?’ Maybe these are silly questions, but I don’t think so.

  19. Tripp asks:

    “As an analogy, would you review a movie by reading the script, reading what other people have said about it, researching the background, but not actually watching the movie?”

    No, but I’m not going to elect a movie as president, either. Unlike a movie, a president is about more than an evanescent image and two hours of popular entertainment. A politican’s performance in a debate is one of the *least* important things I can think of in determining his overall qualifications to be president.

  20. John,

    Having seen your latest entry about living in ‘the’ swing state, I can see that getting too little information is the last of your problems.

    I sympathize. Actually, I’m going to miss this Friday’s debate because I have other priorities, so I can’t sit too tall on my high horse, either.

  21. Carol, thanks for the episode title. I was intimating that the VP candidates were boys thumping chests and trying to make the other look bad for their potential mate, er… voter.

  22. “things like Kerry saying at the next debate that he plans to fill his administration’s highest positions with pederasts, koalas and Babylon 5 fans (or some unholy combination thereof)”

    The reasons for not appointing pederasts to a Kerry (or Bush!) administration are self-evident. A case for including koalas *can* be made: they are cute; they provide biodiversity to the Cabinet; and possess (at least, so I have been informed) two opposable thumbs on each hand, which is awesome. The negatives, which perhaps John alludes to here, are that for 95% of the time they are Bill O’Reilly’s idea of the average Daily Show viewer. They’re constantly bombed out of their minds on Yuke. The other 5% is spent engaging in or avoiding sexual contact as loudly and violently as possible. Surely a koala Cabinet member would not restore dignity or wisdom to the White House. However, one might make an excellent junior Supreme Court justice.

    But Babylon 5 fans? Some of you guys have written above that it’s not a bad thing to be a B5 fan, much less a B5 fan in the halls of government, and for the most part I would agree. On the other hand, there was this anecdote from a few years back: .
    (To bring the confused up to speed, Joe Straczynski created Babylon 5, Bruce Boxleitner is an actor who played one of the main characters on the show, and Karl Rove is what a Bond supervillain would be if they existed in real life.)

    So to sum up, regardless of who wins the remaining debates or the election, I will be extremely disappointed if a koala is not made Ambassador to one of our important allies.

  23. I learned Vice-Presidential debates were largely ineffectual when I watched Lloyd Bentsen completely and irrefutably trounce Dan Quayle during their debate, after Quayle compared himself to JFK. “I knew Jack Kennedy; Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. You, sir, are no Jack Kennedy.”

    Danny boy’s public rhetorical spanking did little else than make Bush voters say “Quayle’s an idiot, but what am I going to do, vote for Dukakis?”

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