I’m listening to the second presidential debate right now, and Tom Brokaw is really starting to annoy me with his nagging reminders to Barack Obama and John McCain about giving answers that exceed the agreed-upon one-minute time limit. I understand the necessity of keeping either candidate from rambling on all night with non-answers. But you know, these are complex questions, and voters want to hear some complex answers. You can’t answer a question about “How will you deal with the looming underfunding crisis for Medicare and Social Security” in a one-minute sound bite and still make sense.
Plus this stupid “one minute per candidate per question” ground rule means that Brokaw can’t ask follow-up questions to force either candidate to actually answer the damn question that’s asked instead of spouting off half-truths and outright lies about the other guy.
There must be a debate format that would allow candidates to give thoughtful, complex answers to the questions that are actually being asked. I don’t know what that would be. But I know this isn’t it.
(Photo from Sept. 26, 2008 debate from The Associated Press)