By Christine Todd Whitman
September 24, 2012
While world leaders gathered yesterday for the opening of the United Nations General Assembly, President Obama left Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to represent the U.S., preferring to appear on daytime talk show “The View”. While Obama did appear at the UN this morning, his neglect of world leaders yesterday was both a poor prioritization of time and further evidence of just how superficial our campaigns have become.
While Obama defenders have noted that Mitt Romney has also done his share of late night and daytime talk shows, but let’s not forget that Romney is simply a candidate for public office, not America’s current leader. Obama is a candidate again, but his responsibilities as our president remain.
Unfortunately, both presidential candidates’ allocation of time and energy reflect the lack of serious debate in the campaign. The exponential increase in available information amid Twitter, YouTube and handheld Internet access has paradoxically served to water down the issues that are actually being addressed.
There’s plenty of blame to go around on that score, but ultimately the responsibility for fixing the problem lies with voters demanding more substantive content. Michael Lewis adeptly noted recently that the “controversy machine is bigger than the reality machine” – it’s up to us to reverse that ratio.
An opinion piece in today’s Washington Post was similarly bemoaning the banality of the presidential campaign. Viewing that article on the paper’s website, the page is framed by the “@mention machine”, denoting how many times Mitt Romney or Barack Obama had been mentioned on Twitter in the past week. Our choices influence what the candidates discuss and the media reports; we need to vote with our televisions and page views for more substantive content.