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Wednesday, October 8, 2008

We Need Change, Change, CHANGE of this Crappy Debate Format

Posted By on Wed, Oct 8, 2008 at 1:23 AM

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Your powers are weak, old man...

S.F. crowd cheers and boos where you'd think they would -- but would be doing more of it if this were a freewheeling debate that rewarded mental agility.

By Joe Eskenazi

At some point during Tuesday night’s debate, I’m pretty sure that Sen. John McCain proposed making the founder of eBay his next Treasury Secretary. Maybe that would go well with his other proposal of the government buying up bad home loans. Why just buy them when we can...bid on them?

And, to be fair, I think Sen. Barack Obama proposed that the government needed to put people to work with “bridge projects.” Bridge projects? So long as the bridge is to somewhere, right?

I could nitpick – and, after McCain’s agonizing hair replacement joke/dig at Joe Biden, it’s tempting – but I’d rather look at the bigger picture. As in: The “town hall”-style debate format is complete shit.

The portions of this debate people are going to remember are when Obama and McCain got a bit surly, and fired contrasting viewpoints at one another – debating, you could call it. Of course, that didn’t fit into the format. There’s no follow-up allowed in this town –- which gives debaters the incentive to stretch the truth and repeat talking points because then your opponent will have to look like an asshole when he interjects to say “Wait, I’ve got to respond to this, wait!”

No, no, no! It’s far more important for a dazed “undecided voter” to read a question with diction befitting a porn actor and be subsequently patronized by the candidates before they go on and talk about whatever it is they wanted to talk about anyway.

A modest suggestion: Let’s actually have debates, resembling the give-and-take in the British House of Commons (minus the peculiar accents and incessant cries of “hear, hear!”). Let the candidates have at one another, call out obvious distortions and, for the love of God, debate. Keep the moderator’s role to a minimum; all he or she needs to do is prod the candidates along. If you’re not mentally limber enough to handle this format then you shouldn’t be president. And, frankly, even watching members of the House of Commons debate the shrubberies of Shewsbury is probably both more entertaining -- and more informative -- than Tuesday’s debate.

Anyway, in order to prove I did indeed watch this debate at Julie’s Supper Club with the Young Dems and not in Waziristan (which McCain calls a “rough country” – has he been to Wall Street lately? Former hedge fund managers are dropping from streetlights and drinking people’s blood straight from the veins).

*The crowd of more than 100 hissed when McCain said he “suspended his campaign.” Let’s just say that the senator’s suspension paled in comparison to Plaxico Burress'.

*People seemed a bit baffled when McCain said “We’re not rifle shots. We’re Americans.”

*Obama’s second-loudest cheer came when he calmly noted that President Bush asking us to fight terrorism via shopping sprees was “not the call to service I think America was looking for.” His no. 1 cheer came when he unequivocally said that health care is a right (note to Obama: Even your biggest supporters were squirming a bit when you dodged questions).

*McCain’s suggestion that he provides a “cool hand on the tiller” was laughable, so people laughed at it.

*And, finally, when McCain said that, as president, he’d probably have to deal with countries that one may have trouble locating on a map, dozens of people simultaneously shouted “SPAIN!”

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Bio:
Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.

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