Monday, June 16, 2008

Town Meeting Anyone?

By now everyone has heard about John McCain's offer to have ten townhall-style meetings with Barack Obama between now and the scheduled debates of the fall. The debates wouldn't be carrie4d on any national media outlet, rather they would stream on the internet. The idea is certainly intriguing. The Obama campaign recently offered two townhalls in addition to the 3 debates. As the campaigns continue to wrangle over how many and the logistics of time, place and format, I have to wonder in the era of the moderated debate is over.

Its not for lack of desire to have moderated debates, and I am Jim Lehrer's (usual debate moderator) biggest fan. But II have to wonder in the day and age of bite-size media consumption and out-of-time viewing, if Americans really want to sit down and watch a moderated, mediated event. Rather they want the candidates to speak their minds directly to questions asked by audience members.

Of course as I read that last sentence I realize that the format proposed by McCain and being bandied by the Obama campaign does not come from a ground swell of support from the public. This format is believed to be advantageous to the campaigns. John McCain clearly believes he works better in this format, hence his proposal. I don't blame him, but I wonder why neither candidate wanted more network-sponsored debates? Was it because of the incessant questions about lapel pins, pledges of allegiance, age?

Well I for one hope they meet 4 or 5 times prior to the old-style debates and get speaking about the issues Americans care about. Lincoln-Douglas style.

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