I normally refrain from watching the presidential “debates” since they aren’t really debates at all.  Instead, they’re more like “soap boxes to repeat your attacks and soundbites in a televised medium.”  But that clearly isn’t a very catchy title.

But, having seen highlights of the last debate where President Obama looked less than impressive, I was curious to see how his expert advisers had coached him and what changes they would make, so I tuned in a bit after 9 pm.  I was greeted with a belligerent Romney telling the President to “sit down” because he wasn’t finished and he had not directed a question at the incumbent.  Then, when it was finally Obama’s turn to talk, Romney kept pestering and interrupting him with the refrain “have you looked at your pension Mr. President?”  It reminded me of my 3 year old daughter saying “daddy, daddy, daddy, daddy, daddy, daddy.”  Only 10 fold more disrespectful.

It was at this point I turned the debates off.  I quickly came to the conclusion that watching them would tempt the Loki of the bodhisattva pantheon to disrupt my inner Zen which I normally have rocking. (Note to wife: stop snickering).

A while later (about 45 minutes, coincidentally the length of an episode of Castle), I turned back to the debates to see how things were shaping up.  I was greeted with Romney bullying the moderator, ignoring her directions, and smirking his smarmy smile.  Feeling a resurgent ulcer creeping up, I turned it off again for the final time.

Now, from the reports I’ve read and highlight reels I’ve seen, I know there was some aggressiveness on both their parts, and, as usual, fact distortion from both sides (plenty of sources confirm this).  My two happenstance viewings were probably just some skewing of random chance that zeroed in on Romney’s moments.  But I can’t help but think that my views of these “debates” have been reinforced.  They entrench our candidate preferences, and if you’re undecided, they might not do much to sway you if both participants spew half-truths, ignore the rules and some modicum of civility, or dance around the questions asked.

Especially this guy.

Oh, and when entertainment celebrities weigh in, I still don’t care what they think.

I do find it sad that our political discourse has devolved into name calling, alpha-male posturing, pandering, and a confusion about what is true.  I’m glad President Obama stepped up and called Romney out, and I think it is appropriate for Romney to challenge the President on policies where he has been weak.  But the polemic style of our polarized politics needs to change, and the people need to demand it.  Until we do, Washington (all the branches) will continue to deliver the same lackluster performance it has for many years.

P.S. I owe a big thank you to Mr. Romney and President Obama for providing me with enough angst to get out of my recent hiatus from my more meaty blogging.

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