10/15/08 — Listen, really: Forget hype. Ignore pundits. Analyze on your own.

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Listen, really: Forget hype. Ignore pundits. Analyze on your own.

Let's face it. Most of us would rather have three teeth pulled than listen to yet another presidential debate, especially since there really hasn't been a debate yet -- just an assemblage of candidate statements woven around a moderator.

So, why watch tonight's debacle?

Is there any need to listen -- again?

You bet, and here's why: Sometimes the message gets muddied by the helpers and the presentation. So, tonight, you be the judge.

Grab a Coke and some popcorn and sit down to watch Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama one more time.

But instead of waiting for the pundits or the polls to tell you how to feel, make notes of your own.

What did each candidate say -- if anything? Do you have a clearcut picture of what kind of leader either would be and what he would accomplish if he is put in the White House? Did one of them look more like he could command a nation in case of crisis? Did you feel there was substance there and that the contender was relying as much on knowledge and conviction as he was on presentation and speech-making? Did you believe one more than the other?

All those are critical questions.

Look at all those factors and judge -- much like you would evaluate a performance or a movie.

Are there fundamental issues you are looking for? Make a note of them and then make a mark every time you hear one of the candidates say something that makes you think he will get that job done. The economy, for example, or protecting America are good talking point topics. At the end of the debate, give each candidate a grade.

Then, after all the talking is finished, take stock of your notes and pass judgment on the candidates. How did they do? Did they address the issues you care about? Did they give you a reason to vote for them?

Then declare the debate winner -- as it relates not to artificial judgments imposed by a nonpartisan -- or partisan -- panel, but as it relates to the issues that matter to you. You be the judge and jury.

After that, a presidential choice really is simple. Pay attention to positions and compare what each says. Listen for substance and decide whom you trust to get the job done.

And when all those factors are combined, you will know for whom you should cast your vote.

Don't get caught up in the hype or choose the candidate someone tells you to choose. Pick the man whom you would hire to run your business -- if your future health and happiness depended on that choice.

But, most importantly, remember that you are qualified to make the decision on your own.

Published in Editorials on October 15, 2008 11:08 AM