To the editor: Debates rarely show us anything other than rehearsed talking points

Presidential debates should either be banished or held in an abattoir. They seldom reflect more than the candidates' already-established prejudices and pie-in-the-sky exhortations of great accomplishments that only he or she can perform if elected.

In the course of selling themselves to their listening and watching audience, they attempt to degrade their opponent's political qualifications and cast doubt upon their every claim to competency and dedication to the needs of the people.

While this is pretty routine stuff for these occasions, it is also disappointing at a time when the nation cries out for great leadership and vision. Some of the issues at stake are so daunting as to strike fear in our hearts that they will fail to be resolved or dealt with in a way that serves our best interest.

There are never any guarantees that one candidate or the other is going to be our knight in shining armor to slay all the dragons that confront us, but that hope is ever there. No rational person expects one man or woman to be gifted with the super powers needed to singularly eradicate every dangerous pitfall that lies in wait, but we must insist that he or she have the wisdom to use and bring to bear every available source of knowledge, regardless of party affiliation.

Both of the current candidates for the presidency have repeatedly touted the idea of "national unity" over party unity. It is my fervent hope that they weren't "just whistling Dixie" when then they said it. As John McCain said in his debate with Sen. Obama, "It's time for all hands on deck."