Left Turns, Fireballs and GOP Debates

By | November 20, 2011

Why do people watch races? Of course it’s to see their favorite driver take the checkered flag, but also.. the crashes. Is that also why we watch political debates?

In the early debates, we might have been watching traded-barb after traded barb to mentally score the good answers and the bad. Race fans watch the constant stream of left turns, on the same track, lap-after-lap judging passes and tactics in much the same way.

We get a feel for the strengths and weaknesses of drivers and politicians both as they work through the otherwise unexciting event. But what really impacts us as we watch these otherwise disconnected contests?

It’s the wrecks – the fireballs – the strewn wreckage after someone makes a mistake.

In the case of both the politician and the driver, everyone wants to see them walk away with no physical or permanent injury – but the actual event is what shows up in the highlight reals on ESPN or CNN depending upon the event.

Bachmann tried to push Perry into the wall with the Gaurdasil thing and lost control. Rick Santorum has been bumping into everyone and is ending the race with a very banged-up campaign. Cain shot to the front of the pack while everyone else was blowing tires and then forgot he was in the race – foreign policy is part of the event Mr. Cain. Perry has managed to hit the wall in almost all of the turns, but he’s explained to us that staying on the track really isn’t that important because President Obama can’t do it either.

Ron Paul and Jon Huntsman  have driven similarly. Neither has made a tremendous mistake, they’ve both been consistent, but in the end their race plans still has them .. at the end.

The ones still racing at the front of the pack are the ones who have developed a winning plan, executed that plan, and shown experienced steadiness in the face of car wrecks all about them. While I haven’t picked a candidate as of yet, I admire the deftness with which both Gingrich and Romney handle the terrible questions from biased moderators. Mitt finds a way to not answer their question without the moderator or panelist even realizing it. Newt lets them know their question is childish and stupid while answering whatever important point he does find in the question – or that he decides should have been in the question.

Front runners, also-rans, banged up cars and blown engines abound. Just like NASCAR and IndyCAR, we don’t really watch the debates to see the track – we watch to the see who’s got it and who does not – oh, and the epic, tire-screeching, fiberglass-spewing, spark-generating crashes.

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