Monday, October 08, 2012

This Door Swings Only One Way

Paul Krugman, of course, was right Sunday when he told the audience of This Week

there's a contempt for the whole process. There's a contempt for us people, because he's thinking the news media will not cover me on this, as long as they say it forcefully they'll say I won, which is more of the ways...

And James Carville, of course, was wrong Sunday when he told the same audience

Look, they asked one time Lee Trevino, great golfer, who was having trouble with putting and they asked him if he thought he needed a new putter and he famously said, no, it's not the arrow it's the Indian. OK. It's not Jim Lehrer. President Obama was sitting right there. He would have confronted Governor Romney on any number of issues and drawn the distinction.

To the wealthy, perhaps, everything in life can be compared to the their favorite leisure time, athletic-free, activity.     Krugman, though, noted "But isn't our job, at least partly, to actually never mind that the quality of the theatrical performance but to ask about, were there untruths spoken in that debate and there were a lot."  Neither Krugman nor anyone has let Obama off the hook.

Not even Salon's Alex Pareene, who conceded he "had no issues" with the "anything goes" format but observed

Not counting follow-ups (SIMPSON-BOWLES, god help us), these were the questions: “How would you create jobs?” “How would you fix the deficit?” “Entitlements?” “Are there too many regulations or not enough regulations?” (The dumbest question of the night!) “Obamacare?” “Do you guys have a rhetorical disagreement about the impossibly amorphous concept of ‘the role of government’”?” And finally “how would you fix partisan gridlock?”  He laments "immigration, reproductive health, LGBT civil rights, the environment, campaign finance, the drug war, and voting rights: None of you matter as much as Simpson effing Bowles!"

Jim Lehrer's most famous encounter of all time was the hapless one with President Bill Clinton, fresh off revelation of his affair with intern Monica Lewinsky, who on three occasions asserted either "there is no sexual relationship" or "there is no improper sexual relationship."   Lehrer, apparently unaware that Clinton was replying only that there was nothing currently going on as was evident) let the Big Dog off easy, as he did Romney, whose lies had less to do with grammar than with substance.

No whining is necessary, however. Instead, moderating debates should follow the pattern of officiating in most sports.   In football, a faulty pass interference call against the defense on one play often is followed by a faulty pass interference a few plays later against the offense.  In that spirit, the questions in the second debate, as in the first debate, should be skewed, but in the opposite direction.   (This would be in a following debate, but is analogous; as in a football game, it is against the same opponent, with victory the goal.)

The second debate is scheduled to include both domestic and foreign policy issues.   Therefore, "How would you create jobs" might be replaced with "how would you bring jobs back from overseas";  "How would you fix the deficit" with "How would you stimulate the economy"; "Entitlements" with "Earned Benefits" (or at least "Social Security, Medicare, and Social Security"); "Are there too many regulations or not enough regulations" with "Does government do enough to protect consumers from predatory lenders, unsafe drugs, or rapacious defense contractors"; "the role of government" with "the role of the multinational corporation";  and "how would you fix partisan gridlock" with "how would you respond to a congressional party drawing up strategy on the day of your inauguration to obstruct your agenda."  And my favorite substitution: "Simpson-Bowles" with "Contraceptive Choice Project, on the impact of birth control on incidence of abortion."

It could happen! And it could snow in Miami tomorrow.

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