Ezra Klein writes:I hate that debate rules are effectively set by the campaigns rather than by a body representing voters.
Okay, three things. First of all: the campaigns do represent the voters! Each candidate was duly selected by his political party; the parties are made up of….voters!
Second, and this doesn’t get to his complaint, but it’s worth pointing out that it’s basically a miracle that we have solidly institutionalized debates in the first place. As I’ve said, if you like the debates, thank Ronald Reagan (and, to a lesser extent, Bill Clinton). Reagan didn’t have to debate in 1984, and probably took on a fair amount of unnecessary risk by doing it. If he had chosen not to do it there’s every chance the tradition would have died right there. By 1996, the norm was far better established, but Clinton still could have made unreasonable demands and hope that negotiations broke down.
And the third point…look, I’ve criticized aspects of the debates, and I agree with a lot of the specific complaints about the questions that were asked (or not asked) in the first two rounds this year…but the truth is that the format used in the first two debates quite properly, in my view, gave the candidates plenty of opportunity to change the subject and switch to other topics they believed were important. Too many questions about the deficit? Then a candidate had a great opportunity to say that the deficit isn’t as important as…whatever is more important than the deficit.
the views expressed on this site are the author's and the author's alone. they do not reflect the views of her employer or any professional organization with which she is now or has been affiliated.
i'm the leftist liberal you've been warned about - the one who genuinely supports the expansion of the welfare state. i love politics and data and graffiti and street art and am far too lazy to use my shift key. if you need to reach me, you can email to abbyjean at the google email service.