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Are presidential debates necessary?


Last night Grey Goose Entertainment and Sundance Channel hosted their Iconoclasts party, celebrating the new season with episodes featuring Cameron Diaz and architect Cameron Sinclair, Bill Maher and Clive Davis, and Stella McCartney and artist Edward Ruscha. Wyclef Jean, who also stars in an episode with Venus Williams, gave a private performance at a club in the Meatpacking district. He announced on stage that he was TiVo-ing the debate. You know who else decided to TiVo the debate? Penn Badgley (who hopped in to a cab when he heard Wyclef was performing), Richard Branson (who did not look like he took the red eye), Cee-Lo of Gnarls Barkley (who looks just as beautiful and mysterious in real life as you would imagine), and skater Tony Hawk (who was out with his wife, her first night out in three months since giving birth). Guess who doesn't have TiVo? Yours truly. So like any patriotic American doing my duty to learn the issues, I left the party and rushed home. What a mistake.

I left a party where Wyclef sang, "Barack Obama for President. Wyclef for Vice President." He played the guitar with his teeth. He went from the red carpet to my walk-and-talk interview, straight to the stage to perform. That was a hot party. You know what wasn't a hot party? The presidential debate.

Other than Tom Brokaw's attempts to rope in the candidates and poke a few jokes, I felt like I was watching a repeat of the first presidential debate. The best part of the night was easily when Brokaw asked John McCain to move over so he could read his teleprompter. A metaphor for the evening? I think so. Why was I focused on such inconsequential details the entire hour-and-a-half? Like why was McCain's tie so darn long? That thing hit his knees. At least he wore his party colors. Why was Cindy wearing blue and Michelle red? Did they color-coordinate to wear opposing colors? And what were those large magnificent things on Michelle's dress? Want to go brooch shopping sometime Michelle?

Here's why. McCain, I know all about your spending freeze and desire to reign in the government. Obama, I know your healthcare plan. McCain, I know your tax plan. Obama, I know your views on Pakistan. McCain, I know that you can spell KGB. Here's what I don't know. McCain, why on earth would you use a metaphor like "nail jello to the wall"? That sounded like early signs of dementia. Are you going to fire that speech writer? And how about the guy who wrote your hair plugs joke that no one laughed at? Obama, are you going to promote whoever wrote, "lost a wheel on the straight talk express"?

Here's what I don't know. If you're already a decided voter, is it important to watch the presidential debate? The Palin/Biden debate beat the hell out of you in ratings. And the reason is because it was a spectacle. People were expecting to see Saturday Night Live (which has boosted its ratings solely from Tina Fey's opening impressions). They wanted to see Sarah fall on her face. What is going to tune me in to Debate #3, gentlemen? You have less than a month left and all we're getting is the SAMO story. Next time I just may stay in the meatpacking district.

Ariston Anderson