Politically Savvy: A Debate Gone Bad

One of the most exciting things about politics, to me, is the game. The ups, the down, the fierce competitions over delegates and votes, the debates, the ads, the news coverage, the daily ups and downs and twists and turns on the campaign trail. Stories are made one week and quickly forgotten the next.

This week, it's all anyone can do to keep from talking about last Wednesday's Democratic debate, which turned into a fierce showdown between Clinton and Obama where even the moderators, ABC's Charles Gibson and George Stephanopolous, were getting booed at by the audience. The Philadelphia Daily News called it a "televised train wreck," and the Washington Post called it shoddy and despiccable.

So what exactly happened? The debate moderators, instead of asking questions about key election issues such as education, the economy, global warming, Iraq, the war in Afghanistan, taxes, social security, the Supreme Court, or many of the other issues on the minds of American voters, the moderators focused on questions about recent campaign happenings, gossip, and speculation–things that should be trivial and have no place in a debate which is supposed to reveal the candidates' different positions on the issues.

However, in this year's campaign it seems that more and more the campaign is boiling down to just that, turning into a game and a sport. The Washington Post reports that Obama claimed the campaign has been "bogged down in media-driven inanities and obsessiveness over any misstatement a candidate might make along the way, whether in a speech or while being eavesdropped upon by the opposition"–and it seems to be true. Has this campaign season been dragged out so long that the issues have been sidelined in favor of pure politics at its worst form?

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