Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Open Blog to COPD
To the Commission on Presidential Debates: Thank you for sponsoring these debates. Now ditch that lousy format you used on Tuesday night. It was awful. If you had never heard a word from Barack Obama or John McCain over the last six months, you loved this town hall format, because all you got was an extended version of their TV commercials and their stump speeches. Blah, blah, blah. If you have been up to speed on their rhetoric, some differences did emerge but they were few and far between and neither gentleman did much to advance their cause. McCain needed a game changer. If he had one, he left it in the locker room. If you were a journalist, you were pretty much bored to tears and frustrated at the same time. A format that allows common folks, God love 'em, to ask questions sounds very American. But the quality of the questions was weak at best and only allowed the candidates to segue into what they wanted to say. The most frustrated guy in the room was Tom Brokaw, the veteran NBC moderator. Reporters get paid to ask tough questions, to do follow up questions, and to hold candidates tootsies to the fire. He got to do none of that. He tried but the format rules tied his hands. He was reduced to a glorified timekeeper and he didn't do a bang up job on that either. Blame the two campaigns for this. They negotiated the rules and there is one objective in doing so: Reduce the chances of your guy making a mistake. The rules worked perfectly for Obama and McCain. Not so perfect for the ele ctorate which got warmed over sound bites for ninety minutes. For the final debate, it would be great if they took health care, taxes, Iraq, energy, and pork barrel spending off the agenda. Isn't there somebody out there who can come up with some other questions that might give us more insight into who these guys are and what kind of president they would make?