It’s time to stop the debate over debates.
Even though regular presidential debates are a relatively new phenomenon, they have become entrenched enough in the system that they themselves have become a campaign issue. Along with the dubious issue of Gov. Bill Clinton’s draft status, the willingness (or lack thereof) of the contenders to participate in a debate was one of the key issues in last week’s campaigning.
That issue is serving neither candidates nor voters. In fact, the candidates come across more like petty children arguing over who should be the one to play with a favorite toy.
The ideal solution would have been for Clinton and President Bush to agree to debate format worked out by a bipartisan commission. Failing that, we don’t see what harm there is to Clinton in taking the high road and agreeing to a debate under the format used in previous years- except that then he wouldn’t be able to harp any more about Bush’s rejection of the better proposal.
It all comes across as quite petty, considering there are some 10 million people unemployed in this country, a record deficit continuing to swell and a lack of direction in foreign policy. If Clinton believes he can do better than Bush has, he should be out there making his case instead of concentrating on petty matters. And if Bush truly believes that he has been stymied by a Democratic Congress, he should be vigorously campaigning for a republican candidate to go with him to Washington as part of a team.
But it’s much easier to whine about the inconsequential-a two-decade-old draft record, debate formats, and a candidate’s spelling ability-than to face the tough issues. It’s little wonder that voters have become disenchanted with the process.
Irene Hilsendager’s column each week touches on moments in the history of Cotati, Rohnert Park and Penngrove.