Do the debates really matter?

I hope so. In the 1st debate, the voices in Bush’s ear were telling him to scowl. In the 2nd debate, his overcompensation for the previous piss-poor performance came off as desperate and manic, tempered only by his winking at nobody in particular. In the 3rd debate, he was somewhere in between the two, but still lying at will. (See the transcript from the press conference where he brags about not being concerned with Bin Laden.)

But isn’t it disappointing that immediately afterwards the right-wing pundits laud Bush as the “clear winner”? Why can’t people have a serious debate about the debates –– is it because we’re merely mimicking them?

2 thoughts on “Do the debates really matter?”

  1. In my crusade for equal time, I have to point out that the left-wing pundits do exactly the same thing, they declare Kerry the winner almost the second the moderator says “good night.” I sit down to a mailbox full of political spam telling me to contact the poll sites and my local papers to state my opinion the Kerry is the clear front runner in the just completed debate.

    I’ve been holed up in my house with the flu and the boxed set of Sports Night on DVD. Yesterday, I watched an episode where Casey gets Jeremy to write an application that will vote repeatededly for Casey over Dan in the “who’s cooler” web poll.

    This is exactly what the “who won the debate” polls look like to me. MoveOn has access to such a wired citizenry that they can push the web polls in Kerry’s favor just by hitting send. The conservatives have such a grip on broadcast media that they can push their candidate to the front on that night’s 11pm news. In the end, the declarations of who won mean nothing. The meaning is in whether or not a candidate has swayed an undecided voter, and we won’t know that until after the election.

  2. Very well put. I definitely agree that the spin doesn’t change course for either side. And I also noticed the flurry of emails from and before the debate to make sure to declare Kerry the winner online afterwards. I assumed the Republican groups were doing the same thing – though I would rather they resort to something as desperate as that than taking over mainstream media.

    What’s frustrating is the people out there curious enough to watch the debates with an open mind, as you said, the undecideds, probably also watch the post-debate pundits regurgitating the scripts. I just wonder how much that factors into their decision vis a vis the actual debate.

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