First and foremost, a "real" debate should not look quite so much like the Jerry Springer show, where the moderator eggs on the candidates to get into a fight. It should also deal with substantive issues that affect the American people, not on which candidate chooses to wear a flag pin or what.
There is nothing wrong about quizzing candidates about their associations, but only insofar as there is some plausible link to why or how this will affect policy.
And as to questions that rehash controversies that have been addressed over and over again (e.g., snipergate and bittergate), this is not news.
The real "elitists" who are condenscending to the American public are not Clinton, Obama, or even McCain--they are Gibson, Stephanapolous and ABC news.
The American people are not dumb, they are perfectly capable of going beyond soundbites, and they know which issues are contrived and which are real.