We love to compare debates to prize fights, especially in our industry. In the days leading up to the debate, in the days following it, and live during the actual event - those of us in cable news will be talking about who hit the hardest, which punches landed, which punches missed, who was able to slip jabs, who had the best strategy, and who executed. Then we'll raise the imaginary hand of the winner. Ding. Ding. Ding.
But here's the thing, most debates aren't boxing matches. Romney won last week, when President Obama failed to come out of his corner, uttering "No Mas" before the match even started... We didn't see haymakers and body shots, we saw feints and daydreaming. Now after Vice President Joe Biden, and Rep. Paul Ryan circled each other aggressively, I'm supposed to get pretend every debate is a forum for candidates to slug it out?
I'm not holding my breath.
Because usually, debates more-closely resemble middle school dances, than championship bouts. They exchange idle chatter, trying to avoid humiliating themselves. They stand across from each other, unsure of when it's OK make eye contact, and when it gets "weird." Awkward posture(ing) abounds. You can just tell everyone has too much cologne on. Phrases and slang get tossed around that even they don't fully understand. And God forbid a slow song comes on, and they have to go toe-to-toe for a few tense minutes (leaving room for Jesus, of course) - they spend that time worrying more about what their friends think, than they do about the person in arms' reach. And when it's over, each person will try to convince us they were totally killing it out there.
And honestly, that's what's we got last night A middle school dance. The music was nothing to write home about, and the handshakes were sweaty. Joe Biden played the hard-charging chaperone, frantically trying to protect his school's honor.
- "You can't stand that close!"
And Paul Ryan came out with his hair combed, looking like he was wearing one of his daddy's suits.
- "It's a little big in the shoulders, Dad..."
And every time they got close to each other, we - the tweeting peanut gallery - went bananas whispering sweet (snarky) nothings @ each other.
Man, they should have played more Coolio.