Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The second presidential "debate: " Four items

1. McCain's tell: You know he's getting ready for his biggest lie when he begins an answer with "My friends . . . "

2. When McCain claimed, several times, that Obama had never disagreed with his party's leadership in the Senate while McCain had several times disagreed with his party, the correct answer from Obama was, "Well, Senator McCain, perhaps that's because my party wasn't wrong as often as your party was."

3. Let's face it: The "debate" format isn't really a debate. The "town hall" format isn't really a town hall--as soon as they asked their question, the questioner's mike was cut, making follow-ups impossible, and the cameramen were under instructions not to get reaction shots from the questioners. Both formats allow candidates to easily dodge hard questions and recite talking points which may or may not be relevant to the topic. If that's the way it works anyway, then I propose two additional formats:

The Jerry Springer format: Both candidates and their running mates sit on the stage, and at a critical moment Jerry will bring in McCain's first wife. People in the audience will shout "Oh no you didn't!" After the third or fourth time that McCain misrepresented Obama's record, Obama will be allowed to throw his chair at McCain. Black t-shirted security guys will break it up. Democrats who think Obama's been too nice will be thrilled. (Springer will end with a "Final Thought" about bipartisanship.)

The Roller Ball format: On a banked hardwood oval, McCain and Palin would square off against Obama and Biden--on roller skates. When one pair got a question, they would form a block while they answered, and the other running mates would link arms and try to jam it with their rebuttal. The audience will roar with approval when one of the candidates goes over the railing. Pundits who think Palin resembles Raquel Welch in the 1972 film "Kansas City Bomber" will be thrilled.

4. Here's the question I sent that I wish Brokaw had chosen (yeah, as if!):
Senator McCain, at a public rally yesterday, someone in your audience shouted "terrorist!" when you mentioned Senator Obama's name. You offered no response at the time. And the same day, at an invitation-only rally, Governor Palin claimed that Senator Obama was "palling around with terrorists," and after she made negative remarks about the media, some members of the crowd responded by hurling obscenities and racial epithets in at least one case, a racial epithet,* and spitting at a camera crew for the event, including a black sound man. My question to you, Senator McCain, is this: Do you renounce this behavior by some of your supporters, or do you think this is an acceptable part of an American presidential campaign?

*Sentence corrected; due respect to Somerby.

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