Editorial: As president, Obama shouldn’t need debate practice

Editorial Board

Walk up to any business owner or manager and ask them the top five things wrong with their business and possible solutions to those problems, and it’s a sure thing that person can rattle them off in but a minute or two with no thought, and probably have a dozen more problems to give you. And it’s no feat for them to do so really; the business is their life.

Whether you like the idea or not, for competent, diligent, successful people, work does tend to become one’s life, and every little facet of one’s work is as known as the proverbial back of one’s hand. The same is certainly true, and hopefully even moreso given the stakes, for the president of the United States of America.

It was with the typical dismay of this election cycle that we found a story on CNN Tuesday afternoon about President Barack Obama taking a break from studying for the debates to speak with workers at the local campaign office. The president quipped that his staff was keeping him busy boning up on the campaign’s message, making him “do his homework.”

Of course, there’s nothing to be shocked by there; that a candidate would study for a debate is nothing new. No doubt Mitt Romney is off somewhere doing the same thing as you read this. However, that the president of this nation needs to cram to deliver information about the country and his proposals to move forward is just plain disheartening and revelatory of the modern so-called “politician’s” lack of actual political skill.

The presidency is Obama’s life and has been for the last four years. There are few people in the world as qualified to talk about government and matters of American domestic and foreign policy as he is. A truly talented politician president, one who possesses that indescribable spark of the truly political individual, would have no need to study for a debate at all. He could simply waltz on stage and tell it like it is.

And the people would love him for it.

Unless, of course, what’s being studied is a canned message developed by apolitical propagandists who are less interested in public interaction and more interested in scamming the most votes out of our broken electoral system. Furthermore, that candidates occupy themselves memorizing what amounts to a script reveals just how much of a media sideshow elections and politics have become.

Candidates are now asked meaningless questions like “Coke or Pepsi?” Candidates jumping through flaming hoops and balancing balls on their noses will likely be next in the circus the debates have become. Our candidates for public office have been reduced to mere stage actors giving a performance for a witless audience. And while TV networks rake in all the advertising dollars, American civic life dwindles further.

One day Americans will all wake up and ask, “Where are we going, and why are we in this handbasket?” On that day, it’ll be too late.