Final Romney vs. Obama Debate: TV Review

Presidential Debate Rear Stage - H 2012
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Presidential Debate Rear Stage - H 2012

Between horses and bayonets and that sweaty upper lip, Tim Goodman says good riddance.

Four debates have been held -- three of them of the presidential variety and one for the regional managers or something -- and now all the talking and smirking and interrupting each other is over, and it only felt like 13 or 14 hours.

Let’s work backward really quickly and give you the reaction from both sides, culled from another 16 or 17 hours of postdebate analysis from across the aisles:

Democrats: We won.

Republicans: We won.

And there you have it -- time well spent, benefiting an open-minded country of people willing to listen to both sides.

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Now, let’s get back to this final debate. Clearly someone has fired the set director, right? And who forgot to put antiperspirant on Mitt Romney’s upper lip? That person’s gone, too, right?

Good, let’s move on. Have the interwebs created GIFs featuring horses and bayonets? Yes, almost instantaneously, as if by magic. Everybody loves a zinger. Or 30.

Has there been a poll about the winner? There have been -- hold please -- 435 so far. Consensus? If they hadn’t pulled President Obama off of Romney at the end of the bell, there’d be more than sweat on that lip.

Also, sales of those ubiquitous “Keep Calm and Carry On” posters have taken a hit by the new poster of the moment, Bob Schieffer’s mother’s advice: “Go Vote. It Makes You Feel Big and Strong.”

All right, let’s not kid ourselves here. As I’ve said many, many times before, these TV debates are not about substance. They’re about sound bites. And unless you like to hear Romney saying “I agree with the president” a lot, and his other favorite, “Iran, four years closer to a nuclear weapon,” then you’re probably going to concentrate more on Obama’s zingers. That only means he won if you wanted him to win. If you wanted Romney to win, you’ll stick to the talking points and say that it’s about the economy, not foreign policy, which was the topic of the debate.

I was hoping Romney would just finally throw up his hands in disgust and say, “All this talk about countries where no one in their right minds would travel -- what about America?”

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Look, the only debate left is whether these televised dog-and-pony shows are going to move the needle on who you’ll vote for, and chances are pretty outrageously in favor of “no.” But what about the undecided voters, you cry? Well, short of killing them dead, we’ll just have to put up with them for another couple of weeks and see them again in the midterm elections.

Schieffer probably will come under fire for appearing to be a very angry, watery-eyed Muppet -- but who did you want in that seat, Tosh.0?

Unless you were thrilled by lots of pauses, lip sweat and quips, this one was kind of a snoozer. In fact, I may have nodded off a couple of times.

Thankfully, the San Francisco Giants had the good sense to extend their baseball season into the seventh game to give everyone -- especially your debate-hating television critic -- a very timely distraction.

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That also happened to be pretty incredibly satisfying unless you were in St. Louis.

There was one point where the debate became incredibly annoying, and that’s where I was paying really close attention and taking notes and fighting off boredom like a hero when Schieffer forgot to interrupt the debate to say, “Gentleman, the Giants have just hung a five-spot on the Cardinals in the very early going.”

Keith Olbermann wouldn’t have made that blunder. Luckily, I tuned over in time to enjoy a few minutes of black-and-orange glory.

Did I miss anything? Of course not. All the important information will be online. And when I came back, both men were still talking about the same thing they were when the Cardinals still had a pulse. See? Debates are pointless. You know who you’re voting for. I know who I’m voting for. We know who’s in the World Series. No more television series will be pre-empted or time-shifted so we can listen to hucksters and poll results and spin-meisters.

Now, it’s all about comedy. And drama. And fast-forwarding political ads until after the election. The world will be put to right again.

Let’s go, America. Let’s go, Giants.