As I turned on the television to tune into the first presidential debate of the 2012 election, I expected an impressive showdown between Romney Robo-Cop and the great American hope, President Obama himself.
What I expected and what was delivered were so drastically different, at times I had to pinch myself throughout the debate. I hoped I would wake up from some nightmare and be presented with a debate that contextualized the facts and allowed for an accurate portrayal of the two candidates, and maybe even resulted in a notable difference between them.
Alas, I was unable to escape the reality of a presidential debate that did everything but that.
Instead, I was introduced to Romney Robo-Cop 2.0, a presidential candidate who was willing to lie through his teeth to capture independent voters, and portray a spurious presidential platform all for the sake of winning the debate. My stomach turned as I heard the words “I will not raise taxes on the middle class” from Romney, and as he bizarrely tried to distinguish himself from the President as a leader who would be committed to bi-partisan solutions.
But the tragedy didn’t end there. As I eagerly waited for Governor Romney’s hideously untruthful performance to ignite President Obama into forging a stellar response, a President I’ve never seen before greeted me. This president sounded rattled, unprepared, and most disappointingly unmoved by the attacks being directed his way.
Instead of combating lies with the truth, Obama took a different approach: he refused to acknowledge them at all. He didn’t press Romney on his 47% remark (as noted by every political analyst in America), he didn’t adequately present the progressive policies to be expected in his second term, and he left members of his own party and undecided independent voters — perhaps for the first time in his presidency — without hope in his ability to rise above and distinguish himself as the president we once upon a time believed he could be.
So if they both performed poorly, who won? No one. In that debate, there was no clear-cut winner. Instead there was only an established loser: the American public. Both candidates’ performances were an outright insult.
As constituents, we deserve honest, real, and representative performances from the prospective president in these debates. If we allow the candidates to intrigue us with lackluster performances and egregious misrepresentations of their policy positions, we might as well forfeit any rights to be critical of the next elected president.
And if we allow ourselves to consistently be insulted and duped by the candidates of 2012, we will have only ourselves to blame with the results of the next four years in America. Think about that, as you watch the debate approaching this October 22.
*Written by Kad Smith, contributing writer to the Foghorn; Vicente Patino is the Opinion Editor.