Questions without answers

October 20, 2012

I kind of feel bad for those folks whose questions were selected at last week’s “town hall meeting” between President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.They came up with questions they believed addressed the paramount issues facing all Americans – jobs, energy, education, income disparity between men and women and, of course, taxes. Yet, when the question was asked, that was the last we heard from the questioner. I would have liked to have seen this scenario played out:“Mr. President/Romney, could you please explain ...” and then have the person say, “and please, do not refer to your opponent in your answer. I want to hear what you have to say, not what your opponent has said.”It seemed most answers were delivered in rebuttal mode. “The middle class has been crushed over the last four years...,” .... and “Romney’s plan would do this ...” etc.Just once, and this is where the moderator failed, I would have jumped for joy had the questioner got up and said, “Please, you are not answering my question.”There were, though, some memorable moments, such as the “binders full of women” comment, the back-and-forth on pensions, and the conservative paranoia that the behavior of CNN’s Candy Crowley as moderator was “an attempt to influence the election.” But generally, debates are nothing more than a two-minute drill (pardon the football analogy) where a candidate uses that time to espouse the oft-heard rhetoric from campaign stumps and from the ubiquitous and the now-becoming-ever-so-annoying television ads.It just seems that if Obama or Romney cannot fit all the rehearsed points within that two-minute allotted time period, they feel they will lose the point. The losers, I am afraid, are us.There also should be a rule on how many times the debaters can use the pronoun “I.”It’s “I will create jobs, I will cross party lines, I will tax only the wealthy.” It is just I, I, I, ad infinitum.Well, it’s not just I. Without getting into the separation of powers doctrine between the executive and legislative branches, it is my understanding Congress has something to say about these proposals being put forth by these two men. Of course, this is all about the presidential race, not about the spate of congressional contests also occurring Nov. 6.Anyway, I found the town hall meeting to be pretty much the same old heard-this-stuff-before rhetoric, so much so that I kept switching to a cable station to catch a few minutes of “Law and Order” reruns.But doggone it, I sure hope I didn’t miss one nugget of new information or an answer that was close to being on point.Jon Stevens can be reached at jstevens@



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