Asking the Hard Questions by Putting Their Feet to the Fire

When I clicked on the television tonight to watch the debate, I didn’t quite expect the level of uncomfortablility that I experienced. But I also wasn’t expecting the moderators to do their jobs – and do them well.

George Stephanopoulos and Charlie Gibson were moderating the debate between Mrs. Hillary Clinton and Mr. Barack Obama in Pennsylvania. As you all know by now, those two have been battling it out for months to win the Democratic nomination for president in 2008. I was surprised at how the moderators asked the hard questions – the ones that the American people wanted straight answers to. It was like they had a big tub of salt and were poised for pour onto the wounds of each of the Democratic candidates. This is also translated as Stephanopoulos and Gibson felt as though they have a duty to provide the American voters with as much information as possible about the two candidates by providing both with a platform for debate on national television. And this duty includes asking the tough questions while the two candidates are side by side, and holding their feet to the fire when it comes to making sure they answer the questions (because we all know how squirrelly they can be in their responses). Some of the questions included asking each candidate if the other would win, truth & accountability issues with Clinton, anti-American remarks made by the Reverend of Obama’s church, tax increases, and plans to withdraw from Iraq.

There were times in the debate where each of the candidates seemed to have faltered or been quite uncomfortable answering a question or giving a definitive answer (no surprise there). But repeatedly, Senator Clinton seemed much more poised and ready to answer each question clearly than her rival her seemed frustrated, and struggled to answer the questions. This does not mean that what Senator Obama was saying was any less impactful or important – it’s just that he has this verbal tick that annoys me to no end. While he’s thinking about his response, he also tries to talk, and this just doesn’t’ work out very well for him. He says a few words and then pauses with “uh,” says a few more, pauses again and says “uh,” rinse, repeat. It drives me crazy because it is hard to follow someone’s response when they’re doing that. Don’t get me wrong – his prepared speeches are amazing (see “A More Perfect Union” ), it’s just unfortunate that he couldn’t deliver his message the same way tonight that he has in his previous prepared speeches. Maybe I should have said this a bit sooner, but even though the California primaries are over, I am still not totally sold on either candidate. I think if they were to have some kind of superbaby that lacked Obama’s “uhs” and Hillary’s high school principal suits fitted with a smirk, it would be a different story. But since each of them are married and already have children, not to mention that democracy just can’t wait that long!, I feel as though I have to chose one. How will I chose? Will it really be about the issues? And which issue(s) will it be – Iraq? The economy? Healthcare? ??? Or will it be about who I want to have to dinner or who I think will be friendlier when changing my flat tire? But then I get to thinking and I remember the bottom line: my vote doesn’t really count, considering delegates and super delegates. And at the end of the day, I just hope that the delegates decide to represent their constituency (which does include me) despite whether or not I have decided.

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