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Posted on Aug 30, 2020

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Opinion | Ideas for Better Political Debates


If there are three presidential debates, let each one center on a specific topic, such as the economy, immigration, foreign policy, health care, etc. The last 30 minutes of each forum can be “anything goes.”

There are enough “talking heads” on the network and cable stations. We don’t need any of them involved here. The only role a possible moderator might have is to break up a fight, if one occurs. For that role I nominate Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson.

Philip Barnett
Scottsdale, Ariz.

To the Editor:

Joe Biden is a gentle stutterer. President Trump is a brawler. Presidential debates as currently staged are brawls. Admittedly, brawls draw crowds and can be entertaining, but they are seldom enlightening. Unfortunately, the tepid suggestions that Michelle Cottle proposes to improve the contests will do little to change the atmospherics of the upcoming debates. While Americans love a fight, most of us want a fair fight, and without real changes in the debate format this ain’t going to be no fair fight.

Rick Parkinson
Provo, Utah

To the Editor:

If we really want to stop the theatrics and make the debates meaningful, then, in this age of the virus, switch to virtual debates. Each candidate in his or her own location, the moderator in a third, asking questions. Nobody prancing around the stage, distracting everyone. No live audience to play to. A mute button to cut off interruptions.

We are in the middle of a pandemic. It is not business as usual. Do we really want two 70-plus-year-old candidates sharing the stage with each other and a nearby slew of broadcast personnel? Two major universities — the University of Michigan and Notre Dame — dropped out as debate sponsors because of Covid.

Do we want our leaders flying to the virus hot spot Miami as well as Cleveland and Nashville, attended by campaign staff, drivers and airline personnel?

This is the way to promote meaningful debate — and protect the health of everyone involved.

Susan Shepard
Brooklyn



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