ROLAND S. MARTIN: Enough With The Superficial Presidential Debate Talk

By Roland S. Martin

It says a lot about our ridiculous state of politics when we say that voters desire an American president who isn’t exceptional, elite, smart, extraordinary and the best of the best.

Instead, we get these silly narratives that say we desire a president who is regular, ordinary and a person we want to hang out with and have a beer.

Sorry, that’s dumb.

We have low expectations for a lot of people, and that is the last thing we should want from the leader of the free world. So why all of the talk about playing down expectations for President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney in Wednesday’s first presidential debate?

Excuse me, campaign workers, surrogates and silly media folks. When those two hit the stage, I expect the same quality as if I was watching a professional football game or had paid top dollar for a concert ticket, they better bring it.

This routine game of playing down expectations is utterly silly. Even asking the question, as far as I’m concerned, is dumb. President Obama and Romney should be prepared to deliver a superb performance and show a mastery of policy, proving they can handle the difficult job of being president.

Their suit, tie and hairstyle are of no consequence. I know it’s a movie, but President Shepherd had it right in “The American President:” “This is a country made up of people with hard jobs that they’re terrified of losing. The roots of freedom are of little or no interest to them at the moment. We are a nation afraid to go out at night. We’re a society that has assigned low priority to education and has looked the other way while our public schools have been decimated.

We have serious problems to solve, and we need serious men to solve them.”

Frankly, the last things we need are two candidates whining about how they are “ok” and not up to snuff when debating.

Between Obama and Romney, they have run for state Senate, U.S. congress, governor, U.S. Senate and the Democratic and Republican presidential nominations. They’ve had too many debates to count, so please, cut the crap. Both have won and lost elections and none solely have been based on a debate.

This is one of those instances where the news media plays a willing foil to the shenanigans of both political camps. At some point we have to call BS exactly that.

When the debate is all over, let’s hope we don’t see commentators on cable and broadcast networks run with the silly “who looked more presidential” talk. The moment you begin to hear fluff over substance, turn the channel.

What matters most is what Obama and Romney say and whether they have a vision for America. Their passion, compassion, knowledge and ideas are the most critically important things to see and hear.

My wife and I are raising two of my nieces, and we don’t want them to simply pass their classes; we want them to excel. We don?t need a presidential candidate to just “get through” these debates. We want them to show us that they have the right stuff to occupy 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

Roland S. Martin is an award-winning CNN analyst and author of the book “The First: President Barack Obama’s Road to the White House as Originally Reported by Roland S. Martin.” Please visit his website at To find out more about Roland S. Martin and read his past columns, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at


  • Karyn Frost

    Agree 100%. Roland, this acceptance of mediocrity is starting to hatch as early as Kindergarten. Children aren’t rewarded for excellence. Just participation. Furthermore, I don’t want my President to be just like me. I expect him to be better. Otherwise, I should just run myself.