We saw plenty of debate smiles last week when President Obama and GOP challenger Mitt Romney squared off for the first of three presidential debates. While most pundits and citizens gave the performance nod to Romney, we were more taken with how unswank the whole process has become. Ever since the inaugural televised presidential showdown between John Kennedy and Richard Nixon in 1960, we’ve been subjected to a continuous erosion of quality which consists mostly of the candidates taking turns sticking their thumbs in their ears, waggling fingers, and blowing a big ol’ Bronx cheer in the opponent’s direction.
So if it’s substance you’re looking for, it’s substance they DON’T have. Change the channel to Two And A Half Men if you want meaning from your idiot box.
We at Swank Life think the presidential wannabes really should be gauged on is their “debate smile.” You know the kind we’re talking about. One guy stands behind his podium spouting the most unmitigated lies about online casino his opponent that anyone can imagine. He lambasts him up one side and down the other, accusing him of everything from directly conspiring with the anti-Christ to advocating abortions up to the age of twelve.
And, since we’re in the middle of an organized verbal warfare, there are rules to these things. No response or rebuttal allowed for anywhere from thirty seconds to two minutes. What do you do? Come bounding across the stage and see how many pearly whites you can knock down Mr. Windbag’s throat before security shows up? Of course not!
You’re going to stand there and take it with a smile on your face. To be sure, the smile appears to have been chiseled from granite, and the force with which the teeth are clenched could likely turn sand into diamonds, but it’s still a smile damn it.
We’re not sure where the debate smile came from. Probably some last vestige of civility admonishing us to keep our chins up and always maintain good humor, even when we’re being orally shellacked. If debate smiles could talk, what they say? We imagine it would be something like this: “Why, you little weasel-tongued pork belly. I might be standing here with a smile on my face but the millisecond Mr. Moderator turns me loose, so help me, I’m going to spew forth venom and personal attack like the world has never seen. Just you wait.”
If we learn nothing else from the presidential smiles, we now know that a good debate smile isn’t just essential – it’s swanky. (Top image: Flickr | mjtmail (tiggy))
The Jake Swank Team