Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Kucinich's Short-Lived Victory

As I write this, I'm watching tonight's Democratic debate to see whether NBC will address the lawsuit Dennis Kucinich's campaign filed after Kucinich was uninvited to said debate. So far, nothing.

For a brief refresher, Kucinich was told he qualified to participate in the debate and was formally invited to do so. Then, he was abruptly disinvited. His campaign filed the lawsuit, and on Monday (January 14) a state judge in Nevada, where the debate is being held, ruled that either Kucinich be allowed to participate or the judge would stop the event.

When I heard that, I was absolutely elated. Not because I'm a Kucinich supporter (am I? am I not? who knows?) but because I am a diehard supporter of open and fair debates. Alas, my elation, and Kucinich's victory, were both short-lived. Today, a  state supreme court judge overruled the district court judge, and Kucinich was left out in the desert. You can read about it here.

That brings me to the real issue: those elusive "open and fair" debates. Maybe I carry that concept to an extreme. See, I think an open and fair debate doesn't just depend on the inclusion of certain candidates. Yes, I want Kucinich and Mike Gravel and Ron Paul and  Duncan Hunter included in the debates because they succeed in bringing up important issues even when the moderator fails to ask about those issues.

But I want more when it comes to openness and fairness. I want the consultants and handlers and script writers to fade into the background, forcing the candidates to come out into the open to offer their unrehearsed, straight-from-the-gut responses to questions they didn't get to see in advance. I'd like the moderators to ask some real zingers and follow up when the candidate fails to clearly answer said zingers.

I think that would only be fair. And open.

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