They irritate me.
Debate formats do very little to expand the viewers’ knowledge of the participants’ actual ideas and why they think they are good.
It’s a circus. Participants take pot shots at each other. For example, Michelle Bachman’s characterization of Cain’s 9-9-9 plan (“Turn it upside down!”) was infantile. I hope there was more substance than that.
Moderators ask obtuse, “gotcha” questions. The candidates’ arguments are sound bites and slogans and they just don’t have much opportunity to present their cases (maybe that’s the way they like it).
Recently, I heard a radio show caller make a great point. He observed that Paul Ryan’s Path to Prosperity videos on Youtube are better than debates. They lay out a case without as much campaignspeak and the noise of the moderators and other participants.
He also pointed out that few candidates actually produce such videos.
His comment jogged my memory of Reagan’s radio addresses in the 1970s. Those were effective because he was able to get his position and the reasoning for it out in the public. By debate time, he had message tested much of it and he could articulate it well.
Besides, what’s the purpose of debates? To sort out the best debaters? How often do President’s debate? Not often. It’s like hiring the best trial lawyer as a CEO. The skills do not necessarily transfer.
I like the caller’s idea. I’d much rather see an ongoing series of Youtube videos between candidates that cuts the noise, allows them to build their cases in thoughtful manners, respond to critics and allow people to comment on them.