I missed the presidential debate in Detroit last night, and I don’t care

I heard there was a GOP presidential debate in Detroit last night.

You might think it appalling that I’m so out of touch I didn’t know until yesterday afternoon that one was even scheduled. And I’m in the news business. Shameful!

But really, what did I miss? As I have told several people recently, “The debates are one step above television commercials, or Honey Boo Boo.” I haven’t watched a single debate, and I don’t feel the slightest bit less enlightened because of it.

Debates are too staged and too devoid of substance to be useful. The standard defense for them is that they give voters a sense of candidates’ character. Because there’s nothing like a circus sideshow filled with artificial “zingers” to impress a person’s character on others. The stage’s floodlights shine right into a person’s soul, by God.

But, sure, you get to see how a person reacts under pressure, albeit in a setting whose closest cousin is a schoolyard at recess. We don’t get to throw these people onto a deserted island and see how long it takes before they start talking to soccer balls that drift ashore, so this will have to do.

But all this speaks to one reason why I’ve always enjoyed working in the business press. Business has a way of cutting through to the important parts, kind of like an Occam’s razor for media noise. Money has a low tolerance for uselessness. It’s one thing to watch a debate as preparation for water cooler talk. It’s another to then place bets based on what you see.

When the politicians stop zinging each other and actually do something significant, it’s bound to impact business. We cover it. A person shouldn’t only follow business news to stay informed, but if a person were forced to choose business news over the regular media, I’d wager that person would be better off in their life and career than if forced to do the inverse.

Of course, for all the coverage of every whisper and facial tic in the political horse race, you might get the opposite impression — that business pales to the great big theater of politics.

Well. I live in downtown Detroit, home to last night’s debate. It definitely wasn’t politics that brought us back.

March 4, 2016; Crain’s Detroit Business