Thursday, August 23, 2007

Tired of the medicine show

In today's L.A. Times Newt Gingrich challenges presidential candidates of both major parties to new "Lincoln-Douglas" style debates -- nine 90-minute debates on Sunday nights in the nine weeks leading up to the 2008 election:
Our system to elect a president is not working for the American people. The big-city-machine bosses of the past have been replaced by professional political consultant bosses. Sadly, the role of the candidate -- the man or woman who would lead the most powerful nation on Earth -- largely has been reduced to raising the money to hire consultants and then reading what the consultants scrawl on 3-by-5 cards. It's a stunningly dangerous development for a democracy.

We don't really have presidential debates today; we have a kind of meaningless political performance art: a recitation of talking points choreographed to avoid any risk.
Agreed. Sounds good, Newt. But is the current, consultant-driven "debate" format the cause of political malaise, or merely a symptom? Will your proposed solution remedy "news media coverage that is narrow, negative and so short in its attention span that no serious idea gets full consideration." And by the time we get there, will anyone be left watching? Or will they instead go to bed on Sunday nights to prepare for their 50+ hr weeks at multiple jobs they hold to keep their financial lives afloat?

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