31 October 2007

Debate

A question to Mr. Kucinich in last night's Democratic debate:

 

Tim Russert:  This is a serious question ... Did you see a UFO?

 

No one, but no one who is willing to belittle a minor candidate with a question like this should ever be permitted to "moderate" a debate.  And to pose the question as a serious question?  I can think of several choice words for this behavior.

3 comments:

Joel said...

Disagree.

I think it goes to how different people judge fitness to be president. If a candidate thinks he's seen something that a fair portion of the population is gonna think is kooky, then it's a legit question. You put yourself out there as a candidate, there's very little that's going to be out of bounds.

I haven't seen the video. But, in practice, asking a question isn't belittling, even if it's about an awkward topic.

John David said...

There's nothing kooky about claiming to see an Unidentified Flying Object. If you see something in the sky and you can't identify it, then you've seen a UFO. Claiming that whatever you saw came from another planet may be somewhat kooky, but I'm willing to give people the benefit of the doubt.

BMG said...

John David: that's exactly what Kucinich said -- he saw something he could not identify. Which seemed to me about as elegant a response as he could give in the circumstances.

Joel: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G980aLrAwoM

I'm not opposed to the question as a general principle, but context matters. In the part of the debate that I saw, Kucinich was pretty consistently (when he got the chance) attempting to put forward serious policy ideas. When a minor candidate, who gets relatively little airtime as it is, then has to deal with questions of "stability" or "kookiness" instead, that's belittling. Russert's next question was to Obama about whether life exists elsewhere in the universe. I'm not particularly offended by that similar question addressed to that particular candidate: Obama is a contender, as they say, and has had plenty of airtime to convey his policy ideas. Maybe I'm overreacting because I like Kucinich, both because I think the world would be a better place if more people thought like him, and because when he's asked a question he actually answers it directly. But I don't think it's just that.

I thought after I posted this that one thing I'd really like to see is something of an inverse debate, where most of the questions go to the minor candidates, and the major candidates get to stand on stage doing nothing most of the time. That'd be kind of fun, no? I wonder how the polls would change from week to week or month to month if that were the standard manner of running a debate.