The first presidential debate “has all the earmarks of a major game-changer,” said Alexandra Marks in The Christian Science Monitor. The race between John McCain and Barack Obama “remains tight,” with as much as 8 percent of voters still undecided and up for grabs. The debates of 2008 could be as memorable, and as crucial, as the first televised contest in 1960 between John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon.
Other than McCain’s threat to stay away until Washington settled on a financial bailout, said Marie Cocco in the Indianapolis Star, these debates won’t offer anything new. As usual, the candidate with the most “mordant sound bites” and the fewest gaffes will win. The question is: “Is this any way to pick a president?”
Sure, debates tend to be “formulaic, lacking in spontaneity, and full of familiar pablum,” said David Greenberg in Slate. But “that doesn’t mean you should tune out.” In an age “when too many citizens feel adrift and overburdened in trying to judge complex policy issues for themselves, the mere experience of watching debates” and discussing them the next day enriches American politics.
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- America created the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria? Meet the ISIS 'truthers'
- Russia's giant spy ship was a high-tech disaster waiting to happen
- How American businessmen are ruining American business — and the U.S. economy
- The Obama era is over. The presidency continues.
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- On ISIS, neocons and liberal hawks have a 'boy who cried wolf' problem
- How Harry Houdini escaped death
- Fall movie guide: All the films you should see in September
- The 10 best networking tips for people who hate networking
- 10 things you need to know today: September 2, 2014
Subscribe to the Week