I sat down on my couch, having sufficiently prepared everything to ensure I wouldn’t have to leave my living room for the next two hours. I had a blanket handy, should I get cold; the TV remote within reach, should the volume become too low for me to hear, and a cup of Frosty Treats ice cream in my hand to stay any hunger I may have had. It was 8:55 p.m., and I was ready.
I’d been looking forward to a debate between the presidential candidates for some time, but I clearly built up a standard for last Friday’s 9 p.m. contest that could never have been achieved.
Neither candidate said anything particularly striking or even memorable, with the exception of Sen. John McCain’s statement that he would see nothing wrong with freezing federal spending on everything except for veterans’ and entitlement programs and defense, and that was only memorable because it was ridiculous.
This was supposedly McCain’s time to shine. Foreign policy was his forte, his hidden weapon, and this debate would clearly show that his knowledge was greater than that of Sen. Barack Obama’s. And to be honest, I was looking forward to seeing him step up as the better candidate, and I’m not a McCain supporter. But instead of seeing either candidate showcase himself as the obvious choice for president, what the American public got instead was simply more of the same.
What I wanted was something better. I was sitting on that couch, waiting for one of them to wow me, to make me want to vote for him, to be excited about voting for him and it never happened. Obama trotted out the same tired line that he was against the Iraq war from the start, while McCain brought up his time as a prisoner of war yet again. I’m tired of hearing about the same old, same old. I’m tired of these two candidates telling me exactly what they told me three months ago.
I want to watch a presidential debate that really merits watching. I want to hear a Kennedy-esque answer, something more powerful than “We need to stop the orgy of spending,” more powerful than the difference between a tactic and a strategy. I want to see a Ford-like blunder or a Reagan-style quip. I want something to remember 20 years from now. In an election that has been continuously called historic, it seems to me that it’s not the candidates’ words providing the history, but simply their situations.
Watching this debate, it looked as though the candidates were spewing out pre-approved lines that wouldn’t really get them into any trouble. I saw more fire between candidates during the primary debates. It is as if these two have given up trying, and are simply waiting for November to come so it can all be over. I can understand being tired. Running a presidential campaign is no easy task, but for only three nights in the days before the election, these candidates will have the chance to reach out to millions of Americans, and their first chance was clearly wasted.
The next presidential debate will be aired on Oct. 7, and I will definitely be watching, waiting for one candidate to rise to the occasion. But if neither one does, I won’t be surprised.