Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Mark Daniels on the Debates

It's been a week since the infamous ABC debate that seemed to wake the nation out of its network-debate-induced slumber. Frankly, I gave up on the debates months ago*, around the time that Mike Gravel and Dennis Kucinich and everyone whose name was not Clinton, Edwards, Huckabee, McCain, Obama, or Romney were disinvited to participate. I do wish the League of Women Voters would take back control of the debates from the networks, but that's not likely to happen.

Maybe, in light of last week's debacle, the parties will pay attention to Mark Daniels' Modest Proposal for Presidential Debates, which he posted on the always insightful Moderate Voice:

First, get rid of anchors, moderators, or interlocutors of any kind.

Second, allow Candidate A to begin with a five-minute opening, followed by an opening of equal length by Candidate B.

Then, allow the candidates to alternate for five minutes apiece for the balance of an hour-and-a-half.

This format would afford the candidates the chance, for better or worse, to address the public directly. Longer form statements would reduce or mitigate the effect of those absurd sound bite moments...

I guarantee that we would learn a lot more about the candidates’ priorities and their ability to deal with the unexpected if debates were conducted in this way.

One other suggestion: No debates until at least January 1 of the presidential election year.

Of course, this would only work with two or three candidates. But I'm sure we can change things around a bit to accommodate all those lesser candidates who don't have any chance of winning but who bring up vital issues that the major candidates (read that "major-party candidates") ignore.

* I TiVo the debates and watch them only when I have to, and only for you.

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