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Bowdoin’s Potholm on Presidential Debate Fatigue (Reuters) Archives

Christian Potholm


Christian Potholm, Bowdoin’s DeAlva Stanwood Alexander Professor of Government, weighs in on the debate debate – the discussion over whether the cavalcade of presidential face-offs is actually benefitting any of the participants.

“There’ve been so many debates, so early that it’s taking the candidates’ eyes off of the primary states,” says Potholm in coverage picked up by Reuters. Read what else Potholm has to say about it in the full article.

One thought on “Bowdoin’s Potholm on Presidential Debate Fatigue (Reuters)

  1. Dale Tomlinson

    Professor Potholm has missed the point of the debates, as well as the benefits. Nationally televised, of course these “debates” are going to focus a wider audience on each of the candidates. That is good, because it specifically helps to counterbalance the extremism elicited by primaries, especially closed ones. I find the debates and their results quite illuminating, if anyone chooses to see the light.
    I would agree that we are not nominating a debate champion, but these are not debates; rather, they are question-and-answer sessions, and when a candidate cannot answer a simple question coherently — be it on his own proposed policies, his differences on foreign policy with the incumbent, or anything else — that candidate necessarily looks like a fool — and for good reason. (We should not be nominating a blowhard, either.) This outcome is not a fault of the “debates”, but the result of the lack of any intellectual heft behind the speaker. This is good for the public to see.
    Finally, the fact that the lead has changed so often is a reflection of the lack of intellectual curiosity of those polled — and the American voter, to the extent that those polled represent the electorate. They have not read about the candidates in depth or otherwise critically assessed their views, but simply have cheered on the horse race, based on each failure they see. This is the reason they elevate some of these players to “front runner status”, as well; they have no idea of the person’s ability or ideas but for a few scattered sound bites. The public looks fickle and silly, which, unfortunately, reflects the infantile state of our national psyche. This is confirmation of the dumbing down of the country, partly the result of blowhard politicians who mock anyone who speaks English coherently or actually justifies his positions with verifiable facts. More people than ever want a savior to make all our problems disappear, and it will not happen, but they grab onto the latest and greatest entrant in the race until they are — once again — disillusioned. I hope this race forces all of us to focus on that aspect of our politics. Maybe it is time we grow up.

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