Tag Archives: presidential debates

Mini Rumination: Presidential Debates

With the Republican presidential debate season (mercifully) over, now is an appropriate time to reflect on this traveling circus and the foolishness it represents.

There’s a technical term for people who decide on their choice for president, or presidential nominee, based on debates.


Seriously, there must be better ways to pick your favorites.  Debates are tests of, well, what exactly are they a test of?  Debating skill?  Ability to think on your feet?  Articulateness?  None of these qualities suggest that someone would make a good president and none of them are necessary to be a good president.  (True, ability to think on your feet is good, but how often are presidents compelled to make quick, seat-of-the-pants decisions about the affairs of state?)

As much as he disliked the idea of yet another slow-witted Texas governor becoming president, The Curmudgeon admits to feeling bad for Rick Perry.  There were so many excellent reasons to dismiss a Perry candidacy, but poor debating skills shouldn’t have been one of them.

Debates also can be deceiving.  It’s pretty widely accepted that when John Kennedy and Richard Nixon debated in 1960, the question of who won was in many cases based on perception and not performance.  People who watched on television saw a tanned and smiling JFK and a sweating Nixon with a five o’clock shadow and poorly fitted clothing and thought Kennedy won the debate.  Many people who listened to the debate on the radio, though – yes, people once did things like listen to presidential debates on the radio – thought Nixon won.

There are a lot of ways to figure out which candidate works best for the individual.  Unfortunately, presidential debates is not one of them.