OKAY, so in the end I watched as much of the debate as I could stand, which was something over a minute. For one thing, my Poor Wife was tired, and went to bed around 8:30, and, as I may've mentioned before, is such a light sleeper that she's awakened by the barometer falling. So even downstairs I can't turn the sound up on the teevee enough to hear it, and I might've used headphones if I'd felt the thing was required viewing, except Slightly Evil Larry, the Cat Who Eats Plastic, chewed through the good ones, and headphones have that shielded core wire that has, like, milkweed strands running down the center and you can't reconnect it. At least I've never been able to. The backup pair were some lightweight Sennheisers which, once pressed back into service began disintegrating much like when the mutated Andromedia strain started eating rubber. Then there's the ultra-lightweights with the maddening short, and the last-resort noise-canceling earbuds. I'm not sure how they even got in the house; probably down the chimney like a squirrel. They were apparently designed for use by people who've had MP3 players surgically implanted in their chests. The on/off housing dealie weighs something like thirty times what the buds do, so it has a natural tendency to pull them out of your ears if you do anything rash, like moving or breathing, and this has the effect, oddly enough, of canceling the noise cancelation. Still they might be made to work, assuming you were to lie on the couch and keep telling yourself you had just had surgery on your cervical vertebrae, and the slightest movement could be fatal, except that getting far enough away from the television requires, in my case, the linking of two coiled lines which add, by my calculations, about a hundred pounds of torque on the buds. So one can basically just forget it. I'm not planning on buying new headphones anytime soon, unless President Obama makes mescaline legal.
(Drug legalization. It's the Dom Com Boom of the Late Naughts, and just when we need one. Just sayin', Barack.)
Debates are like eggnog. I suppose they have their attractions, and they're fine if you like that sort of thing, but there's no way in hell I'll ever trust the people who peddle the stuff. If you like eggnog, why aren't you drinking it in February? Why isn't it still in the stores? Don't say "because it's too rich to drink except as a holiday treat"; this was going on back when the standard breakfast was three eggs and a flitch of bacon. It's a goddam ritual is all, and its sole purpose, a vestigial organ surviving from the Nixon/Kennedy kickoff, is to engender gaffes. Consider that in all that time the one President who was said to have won the thing, rather than to have had his opponent lose it by glancing at his watch, forgetting where Poland was, or sporting a suit color some hack journalist said was gauche, was Ronald Fucking Reagan, and you don't have to share my opinion of what that got us to admit he's the only one we know of who swiped his opponent's briefs, before swiping the country's. For chrissakes, we wound up with George W. Bush, twice, after debate performances that resembled some high school thespian's assay of King Lear, and there was no shortage of pundits claiming he won, every time, including that first debate with Gore where he appeared to be drunk. If we want to reform the process, we...well, we could do anything; it can't get any worse, but if we really want to reform the process we can start with better coverage, and quit giving the upper hand to citizens who want to pay twenty-minutes attention to th' teevee before congratulating themselves for having penetrated to the heart of the process.
Look at how last night's exercise became a test of whether Sarah Palin could do better than abysmal. Who thinks this way in real life? No one who doesn't have money riding on the outcome, for starters. I saw somewhere in one of the endless breathless lead-ins to the thing where someone said the night would answer the question of whether Palin had the "capacity to grow". What? If you hired someone to deliver pizzas, and he has a minor fender-bender his first night, you might think, well, mistakes happen. If you hand him his first order and he sticks the ignition key up his ass, starts making "vrumm vrumm" noises, and then crashes through your picture window, you are not going to say, "Well, maybe next week he'll remember to wear pants."
Did you happen to catch Jon Stewart's interview with Peggy Noonan Wednesday (it's here ) ? Or maybe "interview", since he seemed to start talking to himself early on? He seemed to suggest that he feels personally betrayed by John McCain--or maybe he meant by Obama too--for the trivial tone of the campaign. Then he launched into a denunciation of political weasel words, singling out--this is to Noonan, remember--McCain's promise to the RNC that he'd "appoint strict constructivist judges" instead of saying he wouldn't let queers marry or women choose abortions. Noonan, when she replies at all, just blathers inanities, or, in other words, went into the default non-partisan mode she switches to when yet another of her political pronouncements loses a fight with reality. It was surreal; I couldn't believe he'd be saying this stuff to Noonan, whose entire career is based on weaseling, and whose party affiliation, if not her very political consciousness, is based on forty years of Roe v. Wade Kung-fu. This is why you trusted McCain even after he hugged George Bush, Jon. These people are liars. They wouldn't be Republicans otherwise. There's no sense in looking for common ground with Peggy Noonan when she's spent thirty years tilting or shifting the ground as required for the smallest temporal advantage. If you really think endless replays of "Nixon-McGovern" are the problem here (won't someone, please, swipe his bedside copy of Nixonland already?) then look at who perpetrates this stuff. I'm no fan of the Democratic party, but its sins are a handful of sand blown in your face by a stray breeze, where the GOP's is the Indiana Dunes dumped in your shorts. I may be old and feeble-minded, but if you want our politics to be about issues then for my money George McGovern was the last major party candidate who campaigned on them, and the "conservatives" who tagged him with "Acid, Amnesty, and Abortion" were the template for everything that's followed and which you're complaining about now. It's not this country's problem to bring Peggy Noonan closer to sanity; our problem is that Noonan and her ilk are out there screwing things up for everyone just so they can snatch a few purses in the confusion. Plow 'em under and sow the ground with salt, or get used to it. They refused to even acknowledge setbacks; they've learned nothing from abject disaster (see Palin, Sarah Louise, Wild Popularity of).