We didn't watch the debate. We would have watched the Angels' game, but instead we went to visit a friend whose husband died unexpectedly Monday; very sad.
But plenty of other people watched the debacle, and Walter Shapiro at Salon had a pretty depressing take:
Broadcast to a prime-time network audience on ABC and devoid of a single policy question during its opening 50 minutes, the debate easily could have convinced the uninitiated that American politics has all the substance of a Beavis and Butt-Head marathon. If the debate was a dress rehearsal for the Oval Office, then the job of a 21st-century president primarily consists of ducking gotcha questions. As Obama rightly complained, deflecting a fatuous question about his seeming reluctance to don an American-flag pin, "This is the kind of manufactured issue that our politics has become obsessed with and, once again, distracts us from ... figuring out how we get our troops out of Iraq and how we actually make our economy better for the American people."
First, this gotcha journalism is tawdry and teen-age, and any so-called journalist who thinks it's part of their job needs to go back to J-school. Is this all that's left of the legacy of Murrow and Cronkite, and other lions of our formerly great press?
Second, we, the politically active and aware public, need more from you. We're as smart as you, and we can analyze these stupid gotcha issues, and dispose of them quickly. We need questions that matter on more specific Iraq policy, economic plans, health care proposals. One of these people is likely going to be the next President of the U.S., not middle school student body president. Please treat them, and us, with respect.