A Guide to the US Presidential Debate, for non-US citizens

So, this was the first official debate between the two men vying for the US Presidency. After months of name-calling and out-of-context quoting of the other guy in ridiculous TV and Radio spots, weeks of mock-outrage and storms in teapots, we finally get to see them talk at length.

On a Friday night. In football season.

When millions of voters, country-wide, are standing on the edges of fields at their local high schools cheering on the team. Do you think people are going to rush home to watch the debate, or support the local football team? Hmm?

Those who were watching the debate were largely engaging in amusing drinking games. (“Every time McCain says ‘Miss Congeniality’ take a drink!”). This has become something of a tradition, and there are websites dedicated to rating the popularity of…the drinking games, never mind the candidates.

Immediately after the candidates have stopped talking (and on some channels, periodically WHILE they are talking) pundits (spit!) will turn to each other and say “So, Bob, Obama says that if you earn less that $250,000 you’ll be getting a tax cut. What do you think he means by that?”

Pundits will spend the next six days (until the next debate) slicing and dicing the candidates remarks, removing them from context and deciding who ‘won’ the debate, distorting people’s memories of what they actually said and skewing the emphasis so that all people remember are the moments when McCain stumbled over the Iranian president’s name, or when Obama laughed at McCain’s jokes. Serious stuff.

Me? I thought it was nice to see them talk. I enjoyed hearing them make their points in long, complete sentences. I enjoyed making up my own mind.

But then again, I’m not allowed to vote. I just pay taxes here.

Tell you what, though: if I were on the campaign staff, I’d demand a better background colour for the next debate. That electric blue background may have had a patriotic feel but it made Obama look green and McCain look like one of the house ghosts from Hogwarts.


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