Saturday, September 25, 2004

Why The Presidential Debates Suck

If you go to the PBS Now site, you can download the Memorandum of Understanding on the Debates between the two parties. Everything, right to the camera angles and the pens and paper the candidates will be using, has been agreed upon by the two parties.

The cameras are not allowed to show the audience members to the debate (mostly hand-picked by the two parties) except at the very beginning and very beginning of the debate.

The candidates (by agreement amongst themselves) aren't allowed to address eac other or ask each other questions. (If they do, the moderator is required to stop them.)

The moderator must brief the candidates in advance on the questions he will ask each of them, and apparently isn't allowed to ask follow-up questions or change the questions in response to what the candidates have said. Questions are strictly limited to narrow topics pre-agreed by the two candidates.

Since the cameras can't show any audience members (who must all agree to be completely quiet or be expelled without the cameras showing it), and are limited to pre-agreed angles of the two candidates and the moderator has to stick to questions prepared in advance, the most exciting thing that can happen is if the moderator makes a comical gesture.

Remember the first 2000 debate between Gore and Bush, in which the candidates seemed to do nothing but agree, and Bush called it "a great big love fest"?

Well, I think Jim Lehrer (who will be the moderator again for the first debate) was miniced on Saturday Night Live when Bush said something rediculous and he gave Bush a quizically look in return.

The ratings will stink, suffice it to say.

Will Global Warming and the resultinng Monster Storms be addressed in October 5th, which takes place in Miami, Florida? Nope. The candidates agreed the topic would be homeland security, and Jim Lehrer has agreed to immediately stop them if they even try to talk about other issues. The best one can hope is a tangential mention of Global Warming. Like, maybe, it's nice we're talking about Terrorism today, but Pentagon top planners have concluded that the geo-political instability resulting from the several Global climate change is actually a bigger threat, something we're witnessing in Florida right now as I write this.

The only debate I can recommend watching might be the October 8 debate, when the candidates will be asked questions from the audience members. Again, however, they won't be allowed to address each other or ask each other questions, so it will resemble a bi-partisan press conference more than a debate.

You'd think that, with the Republicans controlling all branches of the federal government, and the incompetent way they have been running the war (are they planning to bring back the draft so they can invade Iran? Sounds like it.) the huge budget deficits (the latter not a topic), the monster storms following the Republican's rejection of Kyoto, and everything else that's been going wrong, Kerry and the Democrats might be interested in shaking things up.

Apparently not so. Being a Democrat in Washington still can earn one a comfortable living, especially by providing those extremely lucrative lobbyist jobs for one's relatives. They're not too anxious to rock the boat.

We need to go back to the League of Women Voters debates. There's nothing like an uppidity suffragett to really shake things up. And in the past they did just that during the debates. Remember the debates before 1988, with the tough questions being asked by those bitchy women journalists? (Where's Babwah Walwahs when we need her?) And the wild far-right and far-left candidates they would invite to shake things up?

I'm so impressed, I think I'll become a card-carrying member of the League of Women Voters myself. That way, I'll be a League of Woman Voter, but just a voter rather than a woman voter. (I hear the Y chromosome is chronically underrepresented in their organization. At least I'll get lots of attention.... >:->).

Open Debates, which has a petition to sign if you're unhappy with the current, silly debate formats. The group has a long list of well-known supporting political groups on both sides of the political equation.