Who's the winner? Not us? - Greg Gelpi

Who won? Certainly, not me. Certainly, not you.

The debates over the presidential and vice presidential debates are almost as intriguing as the debates themselves.

Unlike track where the fastest athlete wins or football where the highest score denotes the clear winner, debates leave the floor open for both sides of the aisle to argue who won.

Amidst the murkiness of who won, the loser in the debates was quite clear.

You didn't attend 70 percent of the Judiciary Committee meetings and although I preside over Congress, I never met you until tonight, Vice President Dick Cheney threw at Democratic nominee for vice president John Edwards.

His reply?

You didn't vote to support the release of Nelson Mandela, didn't vote to support Meals on Wheels and didn't vote to ban plastic guns that could be slipped past metal detectors, Edwards countered.

Cheney's reply?

Edwards' record speaks for itself.

As cogs in the political machines, I would think they would obey the political adage of "deny, deny, deny."

Instead, they deflect, deflect, deflect, and they do that by using Teflon politics. As long as you rapidly fling more attacks at your opponent, then the few slung at you will slide off like Teflon.

The reality, though, is that neither Cheney nor Edwards, Bush nor Edwards comes out clean from these debates, none rise as leaders worthy of sitting at the helm of the most powerful nation.

The situation reminds me of the Richard Pryor movie "Brewster's Millions." The basic premise is that Montgomery Brewster, played by Pryor, must spend $30 million in 30 days and have no assets at the end of that time in order to collect a much larger inheritance.

After throwing lavish parties and giving obnoxious gifts such as a jewel-covered gold catcher's mask pendant, Brewster turns to politics.

Dumping his money into the campaign, the minor league baseball pitcher actually attracts a following.

Fearful of winning the campaign, and thus receiving money from the wages, he pleads for everyone to vote "none of the above."

Art, as it is said, imitates life. Bush and Kerry certainly have money and both have certainly pumped money into their campaigns through their respective political parties.

In recent memory, how many political newcomers have seized center stage or at least a share of it by buying it?

Whether they're brilliant political minds is arguable, but money certainly propelled Arnold Schwarzenegger, Ross Perot and others to the forefront of the political field. The same is true for the frontrunners in the presidential race.

And when all is said and done, after the vice presidential debate, the first presidential debate and I'm confident after the next two debates, we will be left with Brewster's line of "Vote none of the above."

Greg Gelpi covers education for the News Daily. He can be reached at ggelpi@news-daily.com or (770) 478-5753 Ext. 247.