GIONNETTE: Shallow waters

Andy Gionnette

There are certain times when I breathe a heavy sigh of relief and remember that I am not a registered Republican.

One of those moments was when I was watching the Republican debate in New Hampshire last week. This of course was the Fox News debate, so it probably could have been worse, like a debate where Wolf Blitzer would ask you to raise your hand if you agreed with his statement as he did with the Democrats earlier this year.

Now, normally, I don’t like watching debates. Not because I don’t care, but because in debates like this there are a couple things you can almost always count on.

The first is that those who are leading in the polls usually get the most face time. I sat in front of the television with an expectation of seeing every other question was directed to Rudy Giuliani or John McCain, an expectation which was satisfied.

Although Giuliani is probably the least awkward of the group, and McCain is the resident macho man, it would be nice to see some more of the Tom Tancredos or Duncan Hunters speak. Hunter even responded with a resounding “hallelujah” when he was asked a question by the moderator.

The second thing that occurs regularly at a debate is when two, three or sometimes even more of these presidential hopefuls leave the realm of debate and enter into a vicious attack mode.

This was best represented during the candidates’ endless bickering on what each of them would do in Iraq. Ron Paul, who had the audacity to stand up to the other hopefuls in opposition of the war, involved himself in a pointless, overemotional argument concerning his plan to pull out of the Middle East. And although I disagree with his position on the issue, I found myself even more disappointed with those attacking him. Besides McCain, who has buried himself in this issue since the get-go, it seemed as if these other hopefuls were only in it for the publicity.

Although they act as if they do, most presidential hopefuls don’t have a clue on military strategy, contrary to the stereotypical Republicans-kick-butt-on-foreign-policy front that they have somehow adopted. This was clearly shown by their generic “we need to stay in there” and “don’t cut and run” answers that they used in a lame attempt to shred Ron Paul to pieces.

The argument drew on for many minutes, and because it was easy to dissect their position purely from their opening remarks, the majority of the time was spent in a sadistic cycle of time-wasting arguments containing no fresh points or new ideas.

As I cringed at the state of the party that I will probably vote for next year, I fantasized about how much more beneficial this debate could have been if it were approached in a much more constructive way.

Rather than spending more time discussing more pertinent issues such as taxes and government-spending plans, they argued about gay marriage, abortion and who is a better overall human being. Not that gay marriage and abortion aren’t important, but it is vital that voters do not let emotional issues rule their decision-making process.

The best leaders will be the ones who can lead in all aspects of their position, not the ones that are pushing for a constitutional amendment that bans gay marriage. Debates right now bring out all the worst in politicians. This needs to change.

It is time that the moderators stop dwelling on emotional issues so I can hear how Ron Paul or Tom Tancredo plan on spending the money that I’ve been somewhat reluctantly giving to the government since I was 15. This country deserves better than to hear who is a better Christian or who is going to single-handedly rebuild a positive family structure from the Oval Office.

Make this happen, and the great American debate will once again be a beneficial tool in informing voters of who is the best person to run this country.

Andrew Gionnette is a senior in mechanical engineering from Chanhassen, Minn.