Before the next Presidential/Vice-Presidential debate, I’d like to make a modest proposal: turn the moderator into a referee and bring in the rule-enforcing accoutrements of sports. Tonight’s debate was a textbook example of candidates running over the moderator, the parameters, and sometimes each other. Poor Jim Lehrer–he looked embarrassed, especially when Obama congratulated him on a good job on the debate.
So here’s what we should do: put Martha Raddatz, Candy Crowley, and Bob Schieffer into black and white striped ref shirts (black ball cap optional). Give them each a whistle. The point I’m not settled on is whether we should give them a yellow flag or yellow and red cards.
As for the presentation of the debate, we should definitely implement Todd Rogers’ suggestion that was discussed in a story on NPR this morning: put the question on the screen for the audience to help them see whether the question was answered. We run three lines of scores, headlines, and updates at the bottom of your basic televised sporting event–one question should not be a problem.
Also, I want a play clock counting down on screen. I want it to go into overtime when the candidates refuse to shut up. And at that point, I want the moderator referee to throw the flag, blow the whistle, or gesture the offending candidate offside, preferably while running towards the site of the penalty.
I’m not sure that my suggestions will improve the outcome, but it would certainly make the program more entertaining. Maybe that would attract some of those who would otherwise choose to remain uninformed.