Friday, August 07, 2015

Wanted: Debate Police

Of course the country is atwitter about last night's first Republican debate. But here's something I wish more people would demand of the candidates: when you're asked a question, answer the fricking question!

Of course, all politicians tend to use virtually any question as a jumping-off point for whatever message they're trying to get out, whether or not it's related to the subject of the question. Many of them are true artists at changing the subject. But last night's candidates seemed especially egregious. The moderators could have asked "What's your position on cottage cheese," and the candidate would launch into how many jobs he created as governor, or whatever.

The debate moderators tolerate this, and I don't really see why. Perhaps they think viewers are smart enough to see this misdirection for what it is, but I think we need a "get tough" policy.

Here's my proposal: at each debate, we have a panel of "subject matter police" watching, with their fingers on some nice, loud buzzers. These people should be experts in rhetoric, logic, and political science. Maybe to ensure "fairness," we choose a conservative, a liberal, and an independent, and require that at least two of the three have to hit their buttons for the buzzer to sound.

The panel would closely monitor each candidate's response to each question, and the instant he or she departed from the subject of the question, they'd be essentially drowned out by the loud, annoying buzzer. After a couple of seconds of this, they'd be allowed to try again.

The idea is to create conditioned reflexes in the political class to stick to the damned topic!

If this were pursued consistently, it seems like we could train them to be a little more responsive in their communications.

(Note that whether or not their answers are truthful is a separate issue; one that I'd love to see addressed. But that might be overreaching, eh?)

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