The great debate – the first of the never ending Presidential campaign season – came and went Thursday night in South Carolina and it was, for all practical purposes, a yawner.
So cautious, so careful, so calculated, so scripted were the eight Democratic candidates that journalists could have written the debate story from the talking points put out by each campaign long before the 90-minute snoozer broadcast on MSNBC.
Not that many noticed: Overnight ratings from major television markets show the talkfest – that began at 7 p.m. EDT – lagged far behind syndicated entertainment gossip shows along with Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune for the first hour and CBS’s Survivor for the last 30 minutes.
And why not? Even the latest tawdry news about Britney, Kevin, Alec and Anna Nicole’s love child provided far more fodder for coffee shop gossip this morning than anything spewing out of the mouths of the candidates for public office.
I’ll take boredom for $500 Alex.
In a pre-packaged, consultant-driven, focus-group shaped political world campaign debates are anything but. Every word spoken by each of the candidates had been rehearsed so many times and uttered so often before that the audience could have finished it off in a responsive reading. Heck, even Dennis Kucinich, the madman of Ohio, seemed subdued.
Instead of a substantive discussion of the issues we got an hour-and-a-half of pabulum delivered by handler-controlled mannequins straight out of central casting. Not one of these uber-cautious Presidential wannabes showed an ounce of courage, a drab of leadership or a nanosecond of independent thought.
At the debate’s end, the lemmings who masquerade today as working journalists marched in formation to each candidate’s spokesmen so they could spoon-feed the pre-prepared spin that claims each of their candidates won.
Like so much of the glitz of modern politics, the debate resulted in much ado about nothing. I saw nothing on that stage Thursday night that would make me want to vote for a single one of the candidates for office.
This wasn’t a debate. It was just another episode of the long-running political soap opera that should be called As the Stomach Churns.
It left me wishing that federal election ballots included “none of the above” as an option.
It would win in a landslide.