I trust that by now you have seen last night’s debate, or at least read a recap of the show. I managed to watch the entire affair with only one shout of derision and splutter of fine lager onto my poor laptop’s screen, something that I am quite proud of.
However, the show that I had expected to see, a real 120 minute argument, never materialized. In fact, the entire ordeal was far less a debate than it was a series of long-winded questions asked by people with too much hair followed by dull, clipped responses that were constantly nipped in the bud by the moderators.
Cross-examination was scant, if existent at all, as candidates barely managed to answer the questions that were put before them in their allotted time, leaving little space to attack or prod the other contenders on stage.
However, the lack of time did not seem to be the real problem with the debate; it was instead the generally toothlessness of its participants that left it dry and dull. Even when asked to do so, the candidates failed to whack their competition. When Pawlenty was tossed a softball and told to go after Romney, the man that he has to tear down if he is going to rise, he flopped magnificently, bumbling his answer in what appeared to be an attempt to appear non-confrontational.
But our good friend Pawlenty was hardly the only person who was emphatically flat, he simply mirrored the rest of the field. Each candidate seemed more interested in saying the right things to grow their mind share among viewers, and primary voters, as opposed to truly standing out as a candidate with a cause.
The root of this issue is that the Republican party has become so ideologically homogeneous that there is, in fact, little light between the candidates. Well, aside from Ron Paul, who shot the air full of his usual gold-Fed-states-god filler. It’s not that Paul was off topic, it’s that no one heard him; he spoke too quickly, and rarely managed to convincingly convey his views. It’s as if he wasn’t there.
And so we watched, for two full hours, a chattering, nattering mass of the same opinions and views, molded into different figures, each too afraid of stepping outside of the status quo to argue with one another.
What a let down.