Marc Ash: May the Best Man Win
May the Best Man Win
By Marc Ash
Thursday 30 September 2004
t r u t h o u t | Editorial
Tonight George W. Bush and John Kerry will face off in the first of three presidential debates that may well decide the direction of our nation for the next four years. The importance of the debates to the two candidates is profound, but it pales in comparison to the implications for the country.
As in every debate, rules have been established and are necessary to achieve fairness. The rules for this year's debates were worked out by two veteran heavyweight negotiators, Vernon Jordan on behalf of the Kerry campaign and James Baker on behalf of the Bush campaign. While the details are extensive, one point jumps out as a distinct disservice to the process.
Neither candidate will be permitted to directly address or directly respond to the other. In short, Jordan and Baker have agreed that Kerry and Bush may debate but may not converse. We find that difficult to justify. Both Mr. Kerry and Mr. Bush are seasoned debaters and experienced statesmen; they are fully capable of making their points to one another. We doubt that the public interest is best served by less.
The final responsibility for enforcing the rules will fall to the moderators Jim Lehrer, Charles Gibson and Bob Schieffer for the three presidential debates and Gwen Ifill for the Vice Presidential debate. All are experienced journalists and their personal integrity lends substantial credibility to the process.
The judgement exercised by the moderators will play a key role in determining how thorough and meaningful these crucial upcoming exchanges will be for the community, and our democratic process. Both Mr. Kerry and Mr. Bush are likely to want some confrontation on the issues. They and we should have it.