Joe Lapointe has worked as a sports reporter with the New York Times and a segment producer for "Countdown With Keith Olbermann'' on Current TV
If the Major League Baseball playoffs can expand again, why not the same with the coming Presidential debates?
It’s fine to have President Barack Obama debate Republican opponent Mitt Romney and for Vice-President Joe Biden to debate Republican opponent Paul Ryan.
But why not add one more round in two brackets? Have Obama debate Ryan once and Romney debate Biden once. It would add a generational twist to the format and could spark some interesting conversation.
Consider their ages. Obama is 51 years old; Ryan is 42. Neither of them have first-hand memories of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Neither remembers where they were when President Kennedy was assassinated. They don’t remember Elvis before he went into the Army. They don’t recall the glory days of Vince Lombardi and the Green Bay Packers.
On the other side, Romney is 65 years old and Biden is 69. Both grew up before cell phones, the internet, video games and the moon landings. They remember a culture when smokers lit up pretty much anywhere they darn well pleased. They probably watched, live, the Beatles’ first appearance on Ed Sullivan. Most likely, they remember when the Dodgers played in Brooklyn.
Of course there are many logical reasons for all parties to resist. Obama and Romney might balk at lowering their stature to face off against the opposition’s running mate. Biden and Ryan could fear losing face and damaging the ticket for their bosses.
But as an informational and entertainment event, the fresh pairings might bring out different dimensions of individual personalities. Someone might actually blurt out an unscripted, unrehearsed opinion that is more than a focus-group tested talking point.
This might be accomplished by letting citizens – not news media moderators – ask the questions. Either pairing could stand before an audience of college students or retirees. Or maybe a group of troops just back from Afghanistan.
Despite the long slog of the campaign, so many issues go undiscussed. What might the candidates say about gun safety in the wake of so many recent massacres? How, exactly, will they explain global climate change and what to do about it?
Such a format would give voters a chance to see how these men think on their feet in an unprecedented confrontation. As of now, we can almost predict what Obama-Romney or Biden-Ryan will say to any given question. It’s not enough.
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