Romney and Obama have an ‘understanding’ on the ‘debates’

Presidential candidate Mitt Romney putting his face on.

Tonight President Obama and Governor Romney will be facing off in another debate. Or at least that is how the activity is being marketed. You can call these spectacles whatever you want but they are not debates. Look at some of these excerpts from the twenty-one page "Memorandum of Understanding Between the Obama and Romney Campaigns" that Time recently published:

  • "The candidates may not ask each other direct questions during any of the four debates."
  • "The candidates shall not address each other with proposed pledges."
  • "For the October 3 debate, the candidates will appear at podiums. For the October 22 debate, the candidates shall be seated jointly at a table."
  • "There shall be no audience participation in the October 3 debate and October 22 debate."
  • For the October 16 debate "The moderator shall select the questioners, but may not 'coach' the questioners . . . They must ask their questions as originally submitted."

Candidates cannot call each other out ("Will you make any cuts to Social Security?"), or make challenging pledges ("I will not make any cuts to Social Security."), and questions from the audience are carefully vetted to avoid embarassing moments that don't follow the script ("Mr. President, before we talk about cutting Social Security benefits or raising the retirement age, can we first talk about removing the cap or taxing all income, like investment income, and not just earned income?").

There is even an "understanding" on the room temperature, the color, and each campaign is allowed their private makeup artist. It makes you wonder who, if any, has hired Lucas Films. Will there be a new category at The Oscars for "Best Presidential Debate Performance"?

President Obama putting on his war paint.

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