The defining moment

“Can I call you Joe?” – Sarah Palin during the 2008 vice presidential debate

The University of Denver’s auditorium was kept cold, and the candidates wanted it that way. A frosty indication of nervousness, two men marched to their respective podiums with friendly smiles, trying to warm the temperature. The annals of television debates demonstrate the power of broadcasts in deciding elections. In 1960 Senator J.F. Kennedy’s semblance on the first full-color television debate is widely known to have tipped the election in his favor. And so during Wednesday’s debate, Messrs. Obama and Romney wore the colors of their parties.

The president began with his classic hesitation—”uh…”— before wishing the First Lady a happy anniversary. Borrowing a page from the weekly rendition of Britain’s parliamentary debates, the candidates exchanged well wishes and mutual thanks to the hosting university. Spending twenty-five minutes on the first question, Jim Lehrer was marooned in his place, giving a stoic response to Mr. Romney’s claim that he would deprive PBS, Mr. Lehrer’s employer, of its seventy million dollars of funding: half the cost of an individual F-22 Raptor. Although both candidates agree that we must educate the next generation, shooting Big Bird is the governor’s pathway towards lowering the deficit.

The disobedient candidates paraded forward, ignoring the downward march of their moderator’s stopwatch. Mr. Lehrer, the lecturing schoolmaster of our nation’s future leaders, persistently interrupted for accuracy. President Obama returned to the idea he delivered in his 2004 convention speech, preaching against tax-cuts for companies that send jobs overseas.  The governor, neglecting his bank accounts in the Cayman Islands and Switzerland, feigned limited knowledge of the matter. Then, “PBS” and “Big Bird” began to trend on Twitter, with a combined total of twenty-seven thousand mentions each minute. Only half way into the debate, the remark about a childhood figure was on its way to Patent Office to be trademarked. The discourse continued.

Magellan for K. A.