Charlie Rose insisted to O'Reilly, "you sound like you want the presidential debate to be a cable news program." But maybe that could be fun, too. Two moderators who would each debate one of the candidates, like on CNN's "Crossfire" in its heyday. O'Reilly could interview/combat the Democrat, and he could recruit his new pal Jon Stewart to interview the Republican from the left.
Presidential candidates have been far too risk-averse to bite on the kind of format that risks a balance of hardballs. In every tedious cycle at the Commission on Presidential Debates, it looks like it begins by Republicans waving a white flag and welcoming another potential quadruple thumping by liberal media-elite moderators. They never insist that one of the four questioners come from Fox News, precisely because the Democrats feel about Fox the same way that conservatives have always felt about every other TV news network.
The most fraudulent debate format is the phony "town hall" Potemkin villages that are routinely slanted against the Republicans. Since 1992, the questions from "uncommitted voters" have been dramatically slanted: 34 questions from the liberal agenda to only 17 from the conservative agenda. This format cries out for change. Perhaps the "uncommitted" questioners can be selected without the moderator knowing precisely what they're going to ask.
Or consider this. Load your "town hall" audience instead with committed partisan voters and let them question the opposing candidates like Question Time in the British Parliament. At least in this format both sides would get hardball questions.
If Barack Obama is defeated on Nov. 6, he won't be able to blame this year's debate moderators. He can't blame Lehrer or Schieffer for being too bland. He can't blame the liberal media for failing to perform a daily puffball/cover-up routine. He can only blame his own sorry record of putting this country into a painful decline.
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