The CNN presidential “debates,’ so-called, were depressing and unproductive spectacles.

We didn’t object to the candidates being asked to compare and contrast their views with one another. That, after all, is what a true debate is intended to do, having candidates explain and defend their positions on issues of the day and illustrate where they differ.

But abrupt cutoffs and 60-second limits are hardly a forum for thoughtful outlining of positions.

Instead, voters who bothered watching these three-ring circuses got to see candidates doing their best to make pre-arranged sound bites (if they could remember them) fit into whatever question or other candidate’s comment was at hand.

The shouting from the audience at the Wednesday night show seemed a good fit, too. It was impossible to hear what the protesters were saying. It was impossible to understand what the candidates were trying to say.