I've been mostly off the internet for the last few days, but having dipped my toe in just now, I gather that the politics geeks are in a near sexual frenzy over tonight's - ahem - debate. Herewith is your extremely short guide on how to watch the big show intelligently:
DO - Watch all 90 minutes of it. It'll be fun. It's a genuine national moment. And it's a good excuse to drink on a weekday.
DON'T - Watch any of the pre or post debate "analysis" on any of the following: ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC, FOX, or CNN. Pay no attention to what anyone who lives or works in D.C. or NYC says on Twitter.
That's it. The debate itself will be watched by huge numbers of Americans, including millions who are either undecided or who are thinking about voting for a third party. Historically, basically all of those people will end up voting for one of the two major candidates. This kind of event will help some of them make up their mind. But those few persuadable voters 1) overwhelmingly do not watch political talking heads and "analysts", and 2) don't care about what those people say or think anyway. As the national media focuses on one or two moments its collective stupidity deems important, those people will be thinking about something else.
If you really feel the need to have someone else tell you what other Americans are thinking, try clicking over to something like the Toledo Blade or the Tampa Bay Times. Their reaction - closer to the few movable voters in states that will matter - count for far more than all the yammering from wannabe celebrities on cable and national news shows.
1 - Watch the debate
2 - Do not watch any "analysis"
2a - If you must find some analysis, try a few local sources in swing states instead of the overpaid, blow-dried entertainers on the national broadcasts