The formats have been governed in detail by secret memoranda of understanding (MOU) between the two major candidates; an MOU for 2004 was also negotiated, but unlike the earlier agreements it was jointly released by the two candidates. The candidates get to choose what content can be asked, you would think that would help them be more prepared. Not being able to come up with an playable response to a question in one of these debates, it’s like a contestant on American Idol forgetting the words to a song. So as the contestant dream of being Americas idol fades away, so would the bid for president for the candidate, you would think. Maybe not, this is politics, and with all the glitz and glamour of Hollywood, who knows. Wag the Dog comes to mind.
A candidate answering predetermined questions is just lip service. Political debates should be about the candidates is going to do for the country, which can not be answered or with a sound bite. The debates need to have a structure like the Lincoln – Douglas debate.
The famed series of seven debates in 1858 between Abraham Lincoln and Senator Stephen A. Douglas for U.S. Senate were true, face-to-face debates, with no moderator; the candidates took it in turns to open each debate with a one-hour speech, then the other candidate had an hour and a half to rebut, and finally the first candidate closed the debate with a half-hour response.
Today’s debates are nothing more the a platform for who will have the best sound bite on the morning news, and not the worst gaffe. Who can forget Al Gore’s lock box babble. Debates need depth, less deceitfulness and more clarity.
We don’t need a lot of hypocrisy from someone who wants to be a leader, we need conviction from someone who is a leader.