How about an “open book test” debate

No, we don’t need more media sponsored debates, with their gotchas and lack of substance.

And, no, we don’t need the unmoderated no-holds-barred debate format Hillary Clinton is proposing. It might be interesting, but it would likely quickly break down into total anarchy, which could be very bad for the Democratic Party. (What Hillary is proposing, by the way, has nothing to do with the format of the original Lincoln-Douglas Debates, despite the fact that’s how she’s describing it.)

But here’s a debate I’d go for — even after 21 others: An “open book test” debate with all the questions disclosed up front.

Here’s how it would work: the debate would last 90 minutes and be made up of eight questions, with each candidate getting five minutes to speak (yes, that long might get boring but this is supposed to be about substance): the last 10 minutes would be taken up with five minute closing statements (sorry, ABC, but no commercial breaks this time).

The eight questions would be settled upon well in advance: the goal wouldn’t be to test the candidates’ ability to respond on the spur-of-the-moment. We’ve seen enough of that already. What voters need now is a better appreciation of where the candidates stand on the important issues of the day: something — thanks to the miserable nature of the major media’s coverage of this campaign — many voters still lack.

Here’s my suggestion for the questions:

1. How, as president, would you each go about getting the United States out of Iraq?

2. Set forth in detail your plans for addressing global warming.

3. What would each of you do during your first 100 days in office to address the current economic crisis?

4. Economic inequality is at record levels in this nation. Economic growth in recent years hasn’t been shared by all Americans, but has tended mostly to benefit the wealthiest in our society: Do you consider this to be a problem that should be addressed by the government and if so how?

5. Please describe in detail what your governing philosophy would be as president in deciding when to send American troops into combat? Describe in particular how that philosophy would apply to nations like Iran, Syria and North Korea.

6. You have both been critical of certain aspects of the Bush tax cuts. What specific changes would you propose and why? Please describe more generally what you taxation policy would be?

7. There is concern over politicization of the Department of Justice. What concrete steps would you take as president to be certain that the Department would never be used as a political weapon? Also, what steps, if any, would you take to investigate prior alleged misconduct?

8. Each of you has expressed disapproval of at least parts of the No Child Left Behind law. What specific changes would you propose? And more generally, in what ways do you believe the federal government can best play a role in improving the quality and availability of educational opportunity at all levels?

Yeah, that would be a debate I’d be willing to tune in for. And for those who can’t get over their nostalgia for Rev. Wright and Bosnia sniper fire, well, there are plenty of clips from earlier debates posted on the web.

But not this time: this debate would be all substance from start to finish. 

Hey, a guy can dream, can’t he?

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4 Responses to “How about an “open book test” debate”

  1. Jello Says:

    Good speech, I agree with you, wholeheartedly. However, it fails to address one problem, as much as we both wish that people and societies are somehow advancing morally to a more perfect future, reality does not reflect this. America is “force fed” false information in a steady stream by the mainstream media, and there is no hope of a free and fair election November. The Democratic party has been splintered successfully into 2 camps, and the likelihood of winning any consensus before general election diminishes everyday.
    This dream debate could never happen for the simple fact that neither Obama or Clinton could ever possibly agree to speak truth to power. Both are bought and paid for by lobbyists and corporations. I ramble a bit, but I don’t think America wants to hear the truth.
    Whoever wins in November is going to inherit a broken economy, a fearful society, and a 3 trillion dollar war, Godd help them.

    Cheers, truth can be despair or empowerment.
    You choose.

  2. Chuck Says:

    I sure do miss RIVERBEND.

    What has this to do with debates? Nothing! It’s just more important than endless chatter between two peas in a pod that means nothing. As Senator Obama said, “I know all her lines and she knows all mine.”

  3. alwayshope Says:

    “I’ll meet you ’round the bend, my friend, where hearts can heal and souls can mend.” It breaks my heart to think about Riverbend.

    I haven’t had anything to say lately. I read some of the comments at Huffington and Buzzflash and I’m just numb. We are keeping Rush gleeful with the nasty remarks about Clinton and Obama. Today Buzzflash is blaming Clinton for Rev. Wright’s performance. Excuse me, but nobody could MAKE him act like George Jefferson, that cocky little question and answer session was all on him. And while we fight and place blame and bicker and condemn………they make plans to steal votes, to pollute and destroy and torture and to bomb Iran.
    This should be an exciting time for democrats, new voters, an involved public, states like mine that actually matter this time, truth leaking out about torture and corruption and with it a chance to learn more truth. But it isn’t exciting, it’s depressing. We have chosen to snipe at each other instead of gathering our strength for the tremendous challenges ahead. I’m not going along with it. I will gladly vote for either of our fine candidates. I may be leaning toward one but I have no bad feelings about the other. I’m not playing into the hands of Rush and O’Lielly and the rest by dissing members of my party. I’m sick of it. I’m more worried about saving Democracy and America than I am about which Clinton or Obama supportor said something stupid. I just want to get this over with so our “hearts can heal” and we can come together this fall and take back our government from Darth Cheney.
    I hope sites like buzzflash will be more helpful this fall than they have been through this nomination process. Their vitriol against Clinton is devisive and only helps McCain. I used to buy my books from them and always included a donation but I’ve bought my last two books from Amazon because of the mean comments and tone of Buzzflash. They are asking for money right now so maybe I’m not alone. Maybe they should consider that some of us liberals just don’t like their “with us or against us” message even if we support Obama.
    I’m grateful for this little cafe where I can say what I feel without ridicule, where we can gripe about our Democratic (we’ve got to find a way to lose) Party and where the posts are always more thoughtful than hateful.
    And, of course, for the beer………….
    Set em up, Steve. I’m buying. (yes, even Chuck’s first twelve-pack)

  4. alwayshope Says:

    I hope I remember to take my voter ID with me Tuesday!
    I’ll know everyone when I get to the church to vote and they’ll know me, but I wonder if they’ll ask for my ID this time? I have a neighbor who is 92 and has never had a driver’s license in her life. This law may harm her right to vote and they say (the SC) that we need a case that shows harm to a voter.
    She’d be perfect…….if she wasn’t a republican! I may call her and offer her a ride anyway just to see if they insist on an ID from her.

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