by Patricia Salber

Pat Salber, birding in Ein Gedi

My family and friends know that I am not much of a sports fan.  I never watch football or basketball on TV and only rarely attend a Giants”s game.  I am  simply not interested in who is playing or who is winning.

When I was still working shifts in the ER this worked to my advantage.  I could always trade a night away if I volunteered to work the Super Bowl.  I loved working Super Bowl Sunday as there was no more reliably slow shift.  No one, and I mean no one, would show up while the game was on.

This is all a way to introduce you to my “sport” – American politics. I follow all the polls (thanks to Real Clear Politics) and I try to watch all the debates – even those of candidates in other states (did you catch Warren vs Brown?).  But of course, the highlight of the political playoffs is the Presidential campaign.  Like the Olympics for sports fans,  our squadnillion dollar quadriennial spectacle rivets my attention.

This year, I only missed one of the Republican primary debates.  And what a treat they were.  Remember Cain’s 9-9-9 plan?  Or the delightful Perry OOOPS?  How about Bachman reminding us in every debate that she is a tax attorney (really?) or Gingrich re-enacting his history professor role?  Fun, fun, fun.

So when October rolled around and I figured out  I was going to be in Israel birding (my other sport), it was pretty upsetting.  The time zone difference meant the debates would be on Israeli TV at 3 in the morning.  I caught the first one at home in California – sipping Chardonney and yelling at Obama to “wake up, please.”  But I was flying on the date of the next Presidential debate and I slept through Vice Presidential debate because I was in Tel Aviv.

So last night, October 23rd, was the final debate of the season.  My husband and I had a full day in Southern Israel – starting with a float in the Dead Sea and ending  with scoping out the shorebirds on the Red Sea.  We were pretty tired when we fell into bed in our hotel in Eilat – the Las Vegas-like resort town at the southern tip of Israel that is squeezed in between Jordan and Egypt.  As much as I wanted to see the debate, I just couldn’t bring myself to set the alarm for 3 am.

So, when I awoke on my own at 2:30 am, I couldn’t resist turning on the TV despite my husband’s protests.  By 3 am we were both wide awake watching Bob Schieffer moderate the last face-to-face encounter of Obama and Romney before the election.  By and large, it was an excellent debate with substantive questions and, surprisingly substantive answers.

The highlight of the debate for me was Obama professorially lecturing Romney on modern warfare, saying we don’t need to worry about having fewer naval ships than in the past.  Naval ships, he implied were going the way of  horses and bayonets.  “We now have ships that planes can land on,” he said, “they are called aircraft carriers.  And, we have ships that go under the water, they are called submarines.”  Thank you Barak.  That was worth staying up for.

I made it through about an hour of the post debate pontification.  Not surprisingly, the left-leaning pundits thought Obama nailed it and the right-leaning thought Romney displayed Commander-in-Chiefness. But the best comment of them all was Van Jones, a former Obama adviser, commenting on how often Romney said he agreed with Obama’s policies. “If the debate lasted another 30 minutes,” he said, “Romney would have ended up endorsing Obama.”  Come on guys, isn’t that a whole lot more fun than football?

Sleepless in Eilat and loving it.

View of the Red Sea from our room at the Dan Hotel, Eilat, Israel