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Web Letters | The Nation

Web Letter

I totally agree with the sentiments expressed in the article. The informed public is insulted twice; first, with the inane, agenda-loaded questions and second, with the insidious lie that the media are giving the people what they want. This lie is becoming tiresome--as a result, I do not listen to any TV news programs or so-called "debates." Instead, I inform myself by critically analyzing news in print and on blogs.

Michael Weisberg

Gainesville, Fl

Apr 21 2008 - 11:18am

Web Letter

A quality debate discusses important issues. A flag pin on a lapel does not matter to me. Asking the presidential candidates about their patriotism does not matter to me, and is actually quite insulting. I don't care about the Bosnia lie (but would love to hear someone ask Hillary the difference between an intentional misstatement and a lie), I do not care about Reverend Wright, Dr. Ayers or the capital gains tax. I hoped to hear about how America would deal with rising food and gas costs, the mortgage crisis (from the homeowners side of things), stagnant wages and the Iraq war. Charlie Gibson seemed to get really caught up on the idea that people who make $200,000 a year are the typical middle class, and that raising the capital gains tax would hurt the country--or perhaps his own pocketbook?

Even in the relatively simple pre 9/11 days, we didn't have the luxury of spending the first hour of a two-hour debate on complete trash and fluff. How amazing that during a war and a possible recession, the top brass at ABC News did not step in and give quality questions to their moderators.

Margaret Powell

Washington, DC

Apr 21 2008 - 9:51am

Web Letter

The current debate format is not calculated to produce optimal results, whoever the moderators. If the questions were posed directly by the candidates, so that the two (or more) of them were engaged in a conversation, we would be much more likely to hear questions worth asking. Instead of responding to the moderator, each candidate would need to react directly to questions posed by another candidate; the absence of formal time limits and the opportunity for candidates to speak at will would ensure that there was a lively back-and-forth; at the same time, no candidate could afford to look petty or bullying, so there would be an inherent limit on the kinds of questions each could ask and the frequency with which she or he interrupted. There would still, I think, be room for a moderator--but her task would be to keep the debate orderly, not to replace the candidates by becoming the primary questioner. In general, American political "debates" have been anything but; it's time to change that.

Gary Chartier

Riverside, CA

Apr 21 2008 - 9:49am

Web Letter

Senators,

Many people have said that your respective approaches to health care are too similar to differentiate. But there is one clear difference, and that deals with a mandate requiring everyone to purchase coverage.

Here is the resolution we put to you,

Resolved: A mandate requiring the purchase of health insurance is necessary to provide universal health care.

Senator Clinton, you will take the affirmative, while Senator Obama will argue the negative.

Following the National Forensic League rules of Lincoln-Dougas Debate, we begin with Senator Clinton. You have six minutes for your constructive case.

(etc)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lincoln_Douglas_Debate#Format

David Nedrow

Columbus, OH

Apr 21 2008 - 9:16am

Web Letter

I would like to see a debate with no moderators. Just put the candidates on the stage, and let them talk to each other and ask each other questions.

Richard M. Mathews

Porter Ranch, CA

Apr 21 2008 - 2:59am

Web Letter

I am disappointed in George Stephanopoulos. I have enjoyed the round-table discussions he inherited when he took over This Week. But his defense of his behavior in the recent debate is beneath contempt. He argued that he was asking questions to assess Obama's character. I guess he didn't (for some reason) think it important to assess Clinton's character. And his right-wing slanders, in the form of "Have you stopped beating your wife?," certainly revealed something of Obama's character, and of Stephanopoulos's. Obama responded with personal restraint while skewering the spineless character of the questions themselves.

Robert Stevenson

Port Townsend, WA

Apr 20 2008 - 10:25pm

Web Letter

I am appalled by the tactics used by the moderators. The time spent on trivial issues--the flag pin, the friendship with Ayers, Rev. Wright and so on--was an affront to all of us. The country is in more trouble than it has been in my lifetime (I am 61). We need to know what the candidates think and how they might address the disasters caused by the current group, not on insignificant ways to assess their patriotism. At times I wonder if we are channeling McCarthy and looking to see who were friends with the red menace. I wondered if the guys were in the Clinton camp as it seemed that they tried to take Obama down a peg--didn't Stephanopoulos work for the Clintons?--is he really going to be objective? The whole situation makes me so angry--if this keeps up, the election may go to the Republicans and the nation will be hard-pressed to survive more of their focus on the good of the rich and powerful instead of the good of the county.

Anne Nickersoon

Dundee , IL

Apr 20 2008 - 9:41pm

Web Letter

Oh, I wish we could have a formal Lincoln/Douglas style debate. Where the candidates outline their positions, critique their opponents and respond to their opponents' criticism.

What passes today for debate is a farce. Lame questions, asked by lame celebrity journalist, hoping for a lame response, that can be spun into weeks of lame newscasting.

Americans don't even know what a real debate is. Because they have never experienced one! Thus we fall for one-liners and sound bites and go into the voting booth not even knowing what the candidates really stand for.

Ned Harrison

Omaha, NE

Apr 20 2008 - 12:46pm

Web Letter

Thanks so much for printing this. Now I have in one handy list the wimpering, simpering cowards who have the nerve to call themselves journalists (say it ain't so, Joe Conason and Eric Alterman), and who remained silent through twenty debates where Hillary Clinton was savaged and skewered without one peep from these spineless defenders of the Fourth Estate.

Michael Chandler

Moab, UT

Apr 20 2008 - 10:30am

Web Letter

ABC is to be commended on their fair and responsible conduct of this past Thursday's PA primary candidate debate. Questions were asked that addressed an important concern regarding the candidates for the Democratic nomination to seek the presidency. That concern addresses character and judgement, important qualities when considering who will lead this country for the next four years. Though some saw ABC as unfair to Senator Obama, the questions regarding his twenty-year association with Pastor Wright and his "friendly" relationship with Professor Ayers go to matters of judgment and character. These questions were long overdue.

Sue Whalen

Merlin, OR

Apr 20 2008 - 2:18am

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