Friday, October 09, 2020

Fraud


This is quite right, though a little misleading:

Early in Susan Page's introduction to Wednesday's debate, the host stated Pence-Harris was "sponsored by the nonpartisan commission on presidential debates." It might have been better described as bi-partisan because it effectively excludes third party candidates. However, we don't know even that for sure, given that the debates are funded by hosting institutions and private contributions from foundations and corporations, and the identity of those latter entities never are disclosed.

It isn't as if Susan Page didn't ask a few good questions, among them being

- (to Harris) "Would (a Biden Administration) impose new lockdowns for businesses and schools and hotspots, a federal mandate to wear masks?"

- (to Pence) "Why is the US death toll, as a percentage of our population, higher than that of almost every other wealthy country?"

- (to Pence) "Have you had a conversation or reached an agreement with President Trump about safeguards or procedures when it comes to the issue of presidential disability? And if not, do you think you should?"

- (to Harris) "Have you had a conversation or reached an agreement with Vice President Biden about safeguards or procedures when it comes to the issue of presidential disability? And if not, and if you win the election next month, do you think you should?"

- (to Harris) "Would raising taxes put the recovery at risk?

- (to Pence) "Do you believe as the scientific community has concluded, that man-made climate change has made wildfires bigger, hotter, and more deadly and have made hurricanes wetter, slower and more damaging?"

- (to Pence & Harris)  "How would you describe our fundamental relationship with China? Competitors? Adversaries? Enemies?"

- (to Pence) "If Roe V Wade is overturned, what would you want Indiana to do? Would you want your home state to ban all abortions?"

- ("to Harris) "If Roe V Wade is overturned, what would you want California to do? Would you want your home state to enact no restrictions on access to abortion?"

The other questions (except one) weren't bad, either. However, if, as was the case in this "debate," the candidate asked the question is given two minutes to respond, he or she will take at least two minutes commenting about whatever the candidate wants to at that time. If one candidate- in this case, Mike Pence- consistently goes over the allotted time and disregards the signal ("Thank you, Vice President Pence") to stop, the debate becomes even more of a sham.

The primary problem is the format, which is ultimately determined by the Commission on Presidential Debates, perhaps devised to prevent either candidate from embarrassing himself by saying something consequential. But the moderator must be permitted to be more than a stenographer or someone passing along questions to the candidates. She needs not only to interrupt the candidates but also to ask follow-up questions. Otherwise, she might as well ask whether they- oh, I don't know- appreciate the children of this country. 

Wait- Susan Page did ask Mike Pence and Kamala Harris roughly that same thing, with the 13-year-old girl who asked why we "can't get along" together. Or maybe a long-time, professional journalist turning a portion of a debate over to an eighth-grader may have been a fitting end to an encounter more clearly worthless than the one we had to sit through between Donald Trump and Joe Biden.




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