Purpose of the presidential debates

Rather Scary Dude
This expression will fail to win you the presidency.Rebecca L. Daily / Foter

Obama and Romney talked and talked, but said very little, and, as was inevitable, what they did utter was so debatable that it, of course, outstripped the deliberative capacity of the forum in which they pretended to argue policy so they could actually demonstrate a control of body language and command of wit, not present solutions or truthful positions. Or, as Gail Collins writes, “The next leader of the most powerful nation on earth needs to be the person with the best comebacks, but the fewest strange facial expressions.”

So, gosh, picking a winner from last night might be hard. Do you downvote Romney for the fake smile plastered to his face? Was he rude to demand, somewhat flustered, the last word since Obama got the first? But what about Obama’s perpetually downcast gaze, as if he couldn’t face the chiding from his opponent? His tight smile? Are these fellows presidential enough?

This is how you rule the free world. Confident arm-crossing, squinty-eyed clarity, relaxed yet authoritative.

While you think about that, think about these facts from Nicholas Kristoff about resource inequality in the good ol’ U.S.A.:

  1. The six heirs of Sam Walton, the founder of Walmart, own as much wealth as the bottom 100 million Americans.
  2. In 2010, 93 percent of the gain in national income went to the top 1 percent.
  3. America’s Gini coefficient, the classic measure of inequality, set a modern record last month — the highest since the Great Depression.

No doubt about who the winner is there. Now that’s entertainment.

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