Debatable

September 30, 2008

The Louisville Courier-Journal’s Lesley Stedman Weidenbener has some useful advice for political-debate watchers: Don’t believe everything you hear:

It was near the beginning of last Tuesday’s gubernatorial debate when Gov. Mitch Daniels started defending the cigarette tax increase he pushed through the General Assembly.

“Every penny went straight to insure uninsured Hoosiers in desperate need of health care and protection,” he said.

The problem is that Daniels was exaggerating a bit.

[. . .]

That’s not to say the governor is the only one making mistakes.

In last week’s debate, Democrat Jill Long Thompson mischaracterized a key recommendation from the Commission on Local Government Reform that Daniels appointed.

She said the commission recommended consolidating schools with fewer than 2,000 students, and that.schools should be left in smaller communities, not consolidated.

Actually, the commission recommended that districts — not individual schools — have no fewer than 2,000 students. In fact, the final report said Indiana did not have too many schools and it did not propose moving them from small towns.

I dunno. I’ve watched the two gubernatorial debates and the first presidential one, and I’ll probably catch Biden-Palen later this week. But I have to say the debates aren’t doing much for me. The candidates don’t really debate each other; they just stick to their talking points. And we know so much about the candidates from so many sources that the chance we will hear something new is negligible. The debates are for people who don’t already know much, but if they don’t know much by the time of the debates, it’s probably because they’re not interested, so why would they watch the debates?

I suppose there’s some value in seeing how the candidates perform under pressure, but “didn’t make any major gaffes” is a pretty weak reason to vote for someone. As far as I can see, about the only reason to watch them is to have the firsthand knowledge to be able to survive all the spin each camp will put on its candidate’s performance.

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