Update: I’ve written some specific reflections on the debate last night.
Tuesday was the second Presidential Debate of the 2012 election. We’ve had one Presidential and one Vice-Presidential Debate so far, both of which were traditional debate formats. This debate, though, was a “Town Hall“-style debate in which the candidates walked freely and spoke to a small studio audience that encircled them as they took their questions directly from audience members. They did not know the questions beforehand, but as the years have gone on, the Debate Commission has limited both the ability to have back-and-forth exchanges with the audience members as well as the follow-up role of the moderator, giving them far more space to dance around the question with no accountability (these changes were put in place after Clinton devastated Bush in this exchange in 1992).
This got me thinking: what if I was there, and I got one shot to ask them one question. I’ve had my fair share of complaints about both candidates (and their running mates), so boiling all of this down to one question that would both be difficult for them politicize and address the most issues I’m concerned about was difficult, but this is what I came up with:
Mr. President and Governor: as a social worker, I’m taught that the goals I make with my clients should be S.M.A.R.T. goals: Simple, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. Using this criteria, could each of you, in terms that are not cliched, rhetorical, or abstract, tell me what the goals of the War on Terror are, and what would represent the end and accomplishment of that War? Thank you.
What do you think would be their answers to this question? What would be your question? (And how do you think they’d answer?) Sound off in the comments below, and tune in at 9pm tonight for the debate.
[image credit: AP photo, from an article at The American Prospect]