William Shira | Horrifyingly Hilarious
Everything in moderation
Published: Wednesday, October 24, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, October 24, 2012 08:10
Monday’s debate was President Obama’s icing on the cake. Unfortunately, the candidates were unable to circle each other like two roosters in a cockfight as they did in the town hall debate. Instead moderator Bob Schieffer had these two seated right next to each other — quite possibly the first and only time the candidates will sit at the same table. The topic drifted slightly from foreign policy to the economy about half of the time with the questionable logic that a weak economy doesn’t allow the U.S. to even have effective foreign policy, which made Clinton’s “It’s the economy, stupid!” tactic during his campaign for office in 1992 look like child’s play.
According to the media, Schieffer’s biggest gaffe was calling the president “Obama Bin Laden,” which really isn’t surprising when you consider how often our commander−in−chief has brought up the terrorist his administration killed. Except that isn’t even what Schieffer said. Listen closely and there is a definitive possessive at the end of the president’s name: “Obama’s Bin Laden.” Even if that did happen, it wasn’t his biggest error. His largest mistakes were having his spine snap after trying to keep Romney on track when the governor was discussing education, failing to bring up other countries like Mexico, and refusing to push candidates on Israel or Libya when they both began to dance around the subject. Those are real gaffes.
Some — mostly Fox pundits — thought that Martha Raddatz from the vice presidential debate and Candy Crowley from the second debate were terrible moderators. They had the audacity to speak, fact check and keep the candidates on track. Might this have something to do with Fox’s candidates losing each of these debates? Don’t be ridiculous. For Fox, the role of the moderator is simply to introduce the candidates as they enter and then fall into a coma for the duration of the debate. Schieffer and his low−energy style must have been a godsend. The only real criticism from Fox revolves around the nonexistent “Obama Bin Laden” gaffe. But now Fox has no rogue moderator to explain why new polls show Obama winning the debate or pulling ahead in swing states. Careful what you wish for. There will be no one to blame when it comes true.
Imagine a football game between two schools. These two teams are historic rivals. Each team enters. Cheerleaders bounce on the side with their pompoms held high. The referee calls the captains over for the coin toss, and then once the kickoff has been decided, he leaves. All of that hate would be released in a violent “Lord of the Flies” fashion that would probably leave a few players dead. Or picture a baseball game with no umpire to call foul balls, or safe at the plate. In both of these cases the competition devolves into an anarchic battlefield where there is no victor. A presidential debate with no moderator would lead to a “Gangs of New York” (2002) showdown, weapons drawn. Moderators are integral for a fair and meaningful competition. Without them, chaos rapidly ensues. They are the balance, the referee. A silent moderator is like a porn groove with no bass: useless.
The president pulled off his strategy flawlessly like Ali in Zaire. Monday’s pounding of Governor Romney brought another victory to his fold. The Rope−a−debate went off without a hitch, and no one seems to suspect that the President threw the first round. Now he comes out on top riding the wave of his debate victories into the seventh inning stretch of politics between now and Election Day.
William Shira is a senior majoring in peace and justice studies. He can be reached at William.Shira@tufts.edu