In humble attempt at casting this in the tradition of Socrates, a (slightly altered) quote:

"The unexamined vote is not worth casting."

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Will They Debate Without the Media?

The below article talks about the idea that McCain suggested of doing 10 "town-hall" like debates over 10 weeks this summer; it would be without any media folk in between them--an appealing thought, it seems, if done well (or at least in a way similar to what they propose). Here's the first part of the article:

"It's pretty obvious what was the most overhyped political story of the past week. The honors clearly go to the Hillary Clinton drama: Will she stand down? Will she endorse? Will she deign to accept the vice presidency? Will she join a monastic order and move to a commune? What a lot of nonsense.

It was always a certainty that this accomplished Democratic pol would do what was in her own and her party's interests, namely, by behaving like the pro she is and thereby preserving her career options. There was never a chance she would go to Denver to launch a futile challenge; nor would she sulk and let herself be the scapegoat if Barack Obama loses.

Because the Clinton speculation consumed so much of the oxygen, a genuinely important development drew much less sustained attention than it deserves. I am referring to the challenge from John McCain to Barack Obama to hold a series of 10 joint town meetings starting this month and continuing perhaps until Election Day.

Bypassing the TV networks, the presidential debate commission and all the other muckety-mucks who have seized control of the campaign dialogue, McCain simply dropped the newly nominated Obama a note saying, in effect, let's get it on.

The Obama camp said it found the notion "appealing," and with that, what may be the largest step toward improving the content of the presidential election became a genuine possibility..."

Read the rest of the (short) article here (it's by David Broder from Sunday's Washington Post and has some interesting points about how significant a change it could be for the format of debates--I know I've seen some where I wish the candidates could just turn and address one another, though I'm not sure if they would need SOME sort of moderator/referee to break things up at times...).

Update: Apparently Obama suggested they do less debates and fewer in the format McCain wanted--good? I don't know. Obama offered to have five total debates, which is apparently more than have ever been had between general election candidates, so that is certainly something. I think that should give a good picture of the two candidates, though I think that at least a few more "town hall" style debates, such as McCain suggested, may have been good.

Update 2: This is a tough call for me the more I have thought about it, because Obama is heading up a huge push to redraw states into the race in a way that I completely support. Virginia, Georgia, and a number of other states are now competitive because he decided to expand the map and thereby bring more people into the process--Dems would barely even campaign in these states in the past, removing the ability of citizens in those states from even voicing their opinion on the race for the highest office in the land (removing their voice, that is, because in the presidential elections it's a winner-take-all system, and not proportional; therefore, if 49% of Virginians voted for McCain, and 51% for Obama, VA would go to Obama, and the 49% of the voters who voted for McCain would not be added into the overall total McCain votes throughout the country--it's tough to know exactly what to think of the system, but it's in place right now, so we should at least bring as many people into the process as possible!). And as a last thought in terms of the debates, I think the voters will have PLENTY of information to decide on, what with the internet, two "forums" with the candidates in Aug. and Sept., two information-packed conventions, and three debates. It's more than fair, in my view, for Obama to focus on getting before the people with his own message, opposed to ceding airtime and time in general to McCain and the un-unique message that he's touting (similar as it indeed is to Bush's policies).

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