Round One

Watched most of the first debate last night. I was hoping for a civil back-and-forth between moderators and candidates, but I guess that’s never going to be how it goes. There is a need to be heard.

The candidates are on guard against carefully worded questions even as they give equally carefully worded answers. There must be an inherent suspicion of the moderators, who, it might be assumed, are also trying to look tough and make a name for themselves.

On the other hand, the candidates change the subject, evade, talk over each other, interrupt each other and the moderators, go longer than their allotted time. There is such a need to be careful, so as not to say anything that damages their chances. And there is such a need to get noticed. The candidates have to be aggressive, toot their own horn, in a field of 20, in order to differentiate themselves and get a word in edgewise. It’s stressful to watch. I don’t enjoy it because of the noise, the lack of decorum and the ease with which the candidates promise the world.

The “day one” question is ridiculous. They all speak as if they walk into the job with carte blanche, with a Congress just aching to please. They tick off a list of things they not only hope to do but speak of as if it will all get done on their watch. They’re set up to have to make promises we pretty much know they’ll have trouble keeping. It’s a lot of show, fluff and bluster. It’s exhausting yet somehow revealing.

I wish just once a candidate would acknowledge the difficulty of the job. Which doesn’t mean they can’t tell us where they stand. It’s just hard to listen to one candidate after another tick off the lists of things they are going to accomplish, knowing full well it won’t be that easy.

And maybe the moderators can stop giving Mitch McConnell so much air time. He wasn’t even there.

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