Ugh, debate season is back. People need to be informed, but one minute sound clips by people who are only trying to generate one 10 second sound bite? The excuse for brevity is to keep it from being drawn out and boring -- policy wonks on parade. At least that would be informational, but as it stands now presidential debates have no substance or drawing power. So here's my solution:
A "season" of one debate a week for the last eight weeks before the election. The first and last debates will be two hour "extravaganzas". A panel of four questioners, each will serve as a moderator/host for two debates each.
Each debate will be on one broad topic: the economy, foreign policy, budget priorities, crime and the justice system, etc. The candidates will get three minutes to answer a question; if they start wandering from the question the panelist/judge who asked it can interrupt to 'drag' them back. Then the other candidate can ask a brief follow up with one minute for an answer. Mics will be cut off if an answer goes too long, wanders to far, or a follow up becomes a mini speech. And then the judges issue short reactions (30 seconds or so) to the answers.
There will be a Twitter board live and on the TV feed. There will be another Twitter/e-mail feed with questions that the moderators can choose from in addition to their own. Each judge will have to choose at least one to ask. Crowd reaction will be encouraged.
There will be brief (2 to 3 minutes) introductory statements by the candidates, but no closing statements. Rather, there will be 5 to 6 minutes of a back and forth between the candidates followed by each judge summarizing and declaring their winner.
And our all-star panel will be:
Swinging away from the left: Keith Olbermann
Sitting far right: Rush Limbaugh
Representing the outsiders: Alex Jones
And just to really stir things up, that fabulous Brit: Simon Cowell
Would you watch?