I suppose these somewhat minor observations were worth three, possibly four, debates. In essence, the system is in need of serious rethinking.
This is especially true for the general election. I have a recommendation — shamelessly stolen from Newt Gingrich.
Let’s put an end to the interlocutors. We don’t need media filters — left, right or center. I am not interested in Jane Pauley. I am not interested in Chris Wallace. I get to see plenty of them. I am not interested either in supposedly random questions chosen (by whom?) from Facebook or Twitter.
I am interested in the candidates and what they have to say to each other — mano-a-mano — in the style of Lincoln and Douglas.
They should be given a topic for the debate (entitlements, Iran, whatever) and be set free to examine it. Those issues can be discussed at length and in more depth without the interference of media personalities who, besides being biased one way or the other, are often more interested in the promotion of themselves or their companies.
The debaters further would not be able to hide behind their media allies, overt or covert. If the president or his Republican adversary attempts to monopolize the conversation, blows up emotionally, resorts to nasty ad hominems or simply engages in absurd argumentation, it would be exposed for all to see. Ideas and the ability to express them would be on display.
Some say the debating skills of a president are not important. While I agree they may be overemphasized, they are still significant. You have to communicate well to achieve your goals. Whatever you may think of their polices, it’s no accident two of the most successful presidents of the Twentieth Century were exceptional communicators — Ronald Reagan and FDR.
In the Lincoln-Douglas approach, their debating and thinking skills would be tested, not to mention their ideologies. And it would be great theater — far more interesting than the pabulum we have been recently served.
I doubt Barack Obama will have the guts to do it. He is an utterly conventional man who has done nothing remotely imaginative while in office that I can think of. Also, his chief strategy seems to be to demonize the Republicans, a more daunting task if you deal with one face to face
But if it does happen, I am relatively certain of one thing. There is one topic that if either party brings it up, he will be deemed a fool: contraceptives.
ADDENDUM: Another amusing view here.