Thoughts on the 1984 Presidential Debates

Last night I had the great fortune of watching one of the 1984 presidential debates between Vice President Walter Mondale and President Ronald Reagan.

If you’ve ever watched ESPN you’ve been privy to the time old “who’s best” debate. Basically, a couple of sports analysts get together and try to determine what team or individual athlete, regardless of era, stands atop their sport. Most of these debates end with one analyst reminding the viewers that the sport is so much faster today than it was ten or twenty years ago, that athletes from years past wouldn’t be able to compete. I think the same argument applies in our political landscape today.

Both Mondale and Reagan seemed unpolished and unprepared and I couldn’t help but think that either Barack Obama or Mitt Romney (!) would more than handle their own against these guys. The amount of time today’s candidates spend researching their opponents, practicing responses, and testing out snippy replies means that today’s debates are faster, more scripted and more brutal. And even though in the sports world, this usually means a more exciting product, I’m not so sure it works the same way in politics.

In either case, too quote my good friend Slim Charles, “the game’s the same, it just got more fierce.”

You can watch the whole debate below.


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