The first of three presidential debates occurs on Wednesday at the University of Denver focusing on domestic policy. Jim Lehrer, the moderator for the first debate has announced the topics: the first three segments (of 15 minutes each) will focus on the economy and the last three segments will focus on health care, the role of government and governing. This will be the typical format where both candidates will stand at the podium and essentially deliver their stump speeches in 90 second bits.
So, this raises the question, why not have a real debate? Forget questions from the moderator with a two minute response and 90 second rebuttal. Why not a real debate where the candidates question each other on their proposals and are forced to directly answer?
Candidates are coached, and coached well, on how to pivot. They hear the question from the moderator and within five words of their answer, they’re on a completely different topic answering the question they want to answer, not the question asked. Henry Kissinger often asked, “Does anyone have questions for my answers?” Rarely does a moderator actually call a candidate out on such a move. Even worse, the average viewer won’t even notice.
So, I ask again, why not allow the candidates to call each other out on these moves and force them to answer?