Yeah, I watched the debate last night. No big deal. I like watching politics, especially presidential politics which have a more profound effect on me and my family in the long run. I don’t know why more people don’t watch the debates. They are kind of important. If you are even near open-minded, undecided, or just relatively unsure, the debates allow you to re-frame the arguments of the candidates and fit them into your values system. Then you can cast an informed vote. While it may be your civic duty to vote, it is your responsibility to gather the information needed to vote. So yes, the debate. ninety minutes of fun banter back and forth broken down by several hours and hours of punditry across eighteen news channels, eight thousand blogs, and every water cooler in the United States. The number two comment I’ve seen in all of this is that Jim Lehrer, the moderator for this debate, did a bad job.
So, Jim Lehrer did a bad job moderating. Question, what is moderating?
mod·er·a·tor (md-rtr) n.
1. One that moderates, as:
Pretty sure no where in that definition it says that a moderator takes control of the situation and drowns out the participants of the meeting, in this case the debate. The moderators job is to ask questions, then let the candidates settle the issues by debate…debate people, not a mandated you have two minutes, now you, now ninety seconds for rebuttal, now you. That kind of structured format squishes the realism and thought a person can put into a response. However, doing the job the way Lehrer did last night he allowed the candidates to engage each other and really bring their issues up and speak to the American people. It is not like there was a significant disparity in the debate either. In the ninety-two minutes of debate, the President spoke a mere four minutes more than the Governor did.
So, when the deputy campaign manager for the President, Stephanie Cutter, claimed that Lehrer hadn’t done his job, she was speaking in error. The same goes for the claims made by the Huffington Post, the twitter handle @silentjimlehrer, Andrew Sullivan at the Daily Beast, and all the others who blame Jim Lehrer for not being vocal enough or taking enough control of the debate. Again, the moderator isn’t there to take control, a moderator guides, asks questions, etc. He does not plow through the thoughts of the candidates.
All that being said, I can understand why a certain section of the media and individuals have blamed Jim Lehrer for not taking more control of the situation. When left to their own devices and the two candidates directly talked to each other and worked through the thing as the spoke one candidate clearly dominated the other. In fact, CNN polling showed by a 2 to 1 margin that there was a clear winner in the debates. That didn’t sit too well with a lot of the pundits and politicos and they had to immediately start to spin the possible damage caused by the loss, therefore it was the moderators fault.
No, the moderator let the candidates debate as he should have. End of story there. That one candidate came out flat and uninspiring and the other candidate came out revved up and ready to go is something that should be debated as to why it happened that way, not how it was someone else’s fault.