The Myth of the Knockout
I didn’t watch the debate last night, because it was the last night of the Viable Paradise writing workshop and I wanted to hang out and say goodbye to the students we’d been with for the last week. But I did catch the highlight reel and all the color commentary, in which it seems that most real people scored it for Obama while the pundits figured it was a draw, because neither Obama or McCain managed a “knockout punch” on the other.
Well, in this case the real people got it right. A debate isn’t a prizefight, and the last thing we need at the moment is the artifical drama of a “knockout” — what we need are two presidential contenders thoughtfully offering up their policies and challenging each other on the issues: steak, not sizzle, and substance rather than excitement. At this point in time, I suspect the average American has all the “excitement” he or she can handle watching the banks collapse; watching the two candidates actually talk about things at length and engage with each other (with or without eye contact on the part of McCain) was probably a refreshing change.
So pundits, please restrain yourselves from viewing the currently political process entirely through the metaphor of violent sports activity. The rest of the United States seems to be managing not to do it, and with good reason; you could too, if you wanted.