Whatever happened to real political debates in this country? I tried to watch the Vice Presidential candidates "debate" last night--but the format continues to bore me. "I'll say my carefully-crafted, well-rehearsed position statement--then you recite your talking points and then we'll move on the next topic." BORING!!! Town Hall Style debates are even worse, as the candidates stumble around the stage with their hand-held mikes trying to look like they are comfortable without a podium and a tele-prompter in front of them.
Here's my proposal: let's have one of the debates run like the ESPN talk show "Pardon The Interruption". For those who aren't familiar, PTI features Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon arguing over sports topics with a time limit on each issue and no moderator. There's even a handy "rundown" along the side of the TV screen to give viewers an idea of what's coming up next. They read e-mails from viewers, play the roles of athletes using "Heads on Sticks" and take sides in "Toss Up" questions.
My "PTI Debate" would start with the two candidates arguing the five biggest issues of the campaign. And note the term "arguing" meaning an actual exchange and response and even interruption of each other. Look for comments like "are you insane, 700-billion dollars for people who don't know how to borrow money?" and "Did you just say 100-years in Iraq?" When the rundown clock hits zero--they get the bell and it's on to the next topic.
Segment two is viewer e-mail. Each of the candidates take turns reading the questions and then they get four to five minutes to argue again.
Section three "heads on sticks". "Governor Palin, you are Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmidinijad. You want to destroy Israel and the US. Tell us why you fear the election of John McCain as President." Or: "Senator Obama, you are your wife Michele. She says she was never proud of America until you were nominated for President. Defend your girl."
It would be great. Real debate and argument about who is the better candidate--and in a format that today's two-minute attention span viewers would appreciate. And nobody from PBS in sight.