We joined the Democrats Abroad group to watch the vice presidential debates last week and last night the second of the presidential debates. We missed the first debate when we were in Salzburg, but had heard it was so disappointing, I am glad it passed us by.
One thing that is apparent is that the moderator’s job is a tough task. Just by coincidence, I Googled it and this article appeared in the Washington Post Mission Impossible: Moderating a presidential debate. One would think that two grown men who have the world watching would show some respect not only for each other, but for the moderator. The rules are explicitly set forth ahead of time, they are reviewed in brief before they start, but still it turns into a pissing contest.
Admittedly, I lean Democrat, but only because there is no healthy alternative. That said I could not believe how downright rude Mitt Romney was in the debate. Candy Crowley needed to be an S and M Madame to whip him back into his place. He went overtime repeatedly, refused to pay attention to her continual requests to return to his seat, and continued answers to previous questions when asked to move on. Okay, Obama was not a saint and I am not excusing him either, but in comparison, he was more of a gentleman with leadership qualities.
I could not help but wonder how these debates could be monitored better as it is a continual issue with all debates, especially political. I arrived at two possible solutions, but as experience teaches us, start with the less threatening and work your way up from there.
Problem 1: We all were privy to the digital timer giving each speaker 2 minutes at which time it is green. When they get the 5 second warning, it turns red. Finally, it blackens out when the time is over and the candidate is expected to control themselves and shut the hell up. If they don’t, the moderator’s role is to try to get them to do so.
Solution 1: When the candidate’s time is over, turn off their microphone. It is simple and an excellent behavior modification tool.
Solution 2: This one is more drastic. Back in the early days of television, there was a show called the 64,000 Dollar Question. At a certain point, the contestant was placed in an isolation booth on stage to ponder the answer. During this time, the booth was blackened out and kept soundproof. This would be perfect for debates. Both sit in an individual booth. While one candidate is speaking, the other is sitting in the dark in their booth, listening, but not being able to use a microphone until their booth is lit up. When their time is over, the booth darkens yet again.
Hey, if they cannot act like sophisticated men, while not treat them with the tools necessary to control their behavior?