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Real Presidential Debates 700

slithytove writes "As many of us are aware, the presidential debates are currently controlled by an organization called the Commision on Presidential Debates. As anyone who's seen a presidential debate recently could guess, the CPD does just what our two major parties want: exclude third parties and impose rules that make the event more of a joint press conference than a debate. Non-establishment candidates Michael Badnarik and David Cobb will be having an actual debate this Thursday. After debating each other, they will be rebutting the points Bush and Kerry make in their pseudo-debate. Free Market News will be streaming it and providing a download afterwards."
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Real Presidential Debates

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  • by Marxist Hacker 42 ( 638312 ) * <> on Tuesday September 28, 2004 @05:02PM (#10377631) Homepage Journal
    Can we spread DVDs recorded off the stream around? Anything these two have to say is bound to be much more open and interesting than what the oligopolists have to say.
    • Nice sig. Only, the way it shapes up, it's "Bush, Clinton, Clinton, Bush, Bush, Clinton and Clinton".
  • Nader opts out (Score:5, Informative)

    by 14erCleaner ( 745600 ) <> on Tuesday September 28, 2004 @05:04PM (#10377647) Homepage Journal
    Independent candidate Ralph Nader, who has been invited to participate in the open format debate, has not yet accepted the invitation.

    Obviously Ralph is holding out for an invitation to the Kerry-Bush debate. Or else he's afraid to set foot in Florida after the problems he caused in 2000.

  • by avandesande ( 143899 ) on Tuesday September 28, 2004 @05:04PM (#10377653) Journal
    What are your objections to the rules of the presidential debate? they seem pretty reasonable to me.
    • There are a ton of rules, but I think the most recent changes that had some people angry was that it is traditional to allow audience members to ask questions "town meeting" style. Instead new rules state that audience members will submit questions to the moderator before hand, and are not allowed to in any way deviate from their submitted questions, make comments, etc.
    • by formzero ( 187156 ) on Tuesday September 28, 2004 @05:18PM (#10377829) Homepage
      go to []. Click on "issue" if you want the full scoop on the objections. Do you support scripted debates with no invites to 3rd,4th,5th party candidates?

      From Under CPD sponsorship, the major party candidates secretly design all the elements of the formats. Consequently, challenging questions, assertive moderators, follow-up questions, candidate-to-candidate questioning, rebuttals and surrebuttals are often excluded from the presidential debates. The CPD's formats prevent in-depth examination of critical issues, and allow the candidates to the deliver pre-packaged soundbites that are repeated over, and over, and over again on the campaign trail.

      Presidential debates were run by the civic-minded and non-partisan League of Women Voters until 1988, when the national Republican and Democratic parties seized control of the debates by establishing the bi-partisan, corporate-sponsored Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD). Posing as a nonpartisan institution committed to voter education, the CPD has continually and deceptively run the debates in the interest of the national Republican and Democratic parties, not the American people.

    • by TheWickedKingJeremy ( 578077 ) on Tuesday September 28, 2004 @05:24PM (#10377909) Homepage
      What are your objections to the rules of the presidential debate? they seem pretty reasonable to me.

      Are you joking?

      * Exclusion of third-party candidates: This is a problem because, without appearing on debates and being otherwise shut out of the media, third-party candidates have a hard time getting their message across. Polls indicate that the majority of Americans want more views expressed and candidates present in our debates, but the commission denies them this.

      * Under-handed questions: Not only are topics that are to be discussed known beforehand, but there are virtually no surprises or tough questions. Answers are therefore heavily scripted, repetative, and boring. Viewership for the debates has declined steadily over the years.

      * "Taboo" subjects ignored entirely: I think it is important to hear the Greens/Libertarians/Independants view on the legitimacy of the multibillion dollar war on drugs, and to hear Kerry's/Bush's defense of it. How come this issue is not discussed? Oh, that's right - its off limits for some reason. The War on Drugs is just a drop in the bucket - there are many more issues that deserve thorough and diverse debate, but are ignored entirely.

      The truth of the matter is that Kerry and Bush would have a hard time defending themselves against any of the three parties I mentioned. The "Commission" (which is made up of the two major parties) is really just protecting their interests by excluding them, at the expense of an informed American public. How anyone could continue to vote for the two major parties is beyond me...
    • I think the whole concept of using polling as a way of deciding eligibility is pretty morally bankrupt. I've suspected for a while that the reason for that is to make it possible for the major parties to manipulate third parties out of the contest. Perot gave them a good scare in '92, and they've been tightening the screws on our republic ever since.

      Eligibility should be decided on a more legalistic basis: if the electoral votes of the states that a candidate is officially ballot-qualified for exceeds 270

  • American flag? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Drakonian ( 518722 ) on Tuesday September 28, 2004 @05:05PM (#10377659) Homepage
    A little OT but...

    How long has this American flag background been on the Politics section? I only noticed today. Does this exclude discussion of non-American politics?

    • by flint ( 118836 ) on Tuesday September 28, 2004 @05:11PM (#10377736)
      You're just jealous of our freedoms.
    • Re:American flag? (Score:5, Informative)

      by DogDude ( 805747 ) on Tuesday September 28, 2004 @05:13PM (#10377764)
      Slashdot FAQ []
    • Its obvious that you're not "with us" therefore you must be "against us".

      People in other nations say americans suffer from "exceptionalism" ... we'd hate to prove them wrong.

    • Re:American flag? (Score:4, Informative)

      by upsidedown_duck ( 788782 ) on Tuesday September 28, 2004 @08:04PM (#10379269)
      Does this exclude discussion of non-American politics?

      Did Slashdot block off non-USA IP addresses to the politics section? Nope.

      I'd actually like to hear more non-US input to the politics section. The USA is so large that most people growing up here never need to cross an international border, which inevitably leads to a lack of knowledge regarding other countries (even Canada and Mexico).

      There are issues in the US campaigns right now that other countries have already addressed or at least debated in one form or another. An obvious one is health care, for example. If anything, providing information about whether Canada's or Great Britain's health care systems are any good or not can only help people in the US better understand the issue. It would also be very interesting to hear about what foreign media report about the US, since American media is understandably biased (American journalists reporting on American events).

  • How true (sadly) (Score:4, Insightful)

    by acvh ( 120205 ) <geek.mscigars@com> on Tuesday September 28, 2004 @05:06PM (#10377666) Homepage
    The current "debate" system is worse than flawed. It is nothing more than a joint campaign appearance. Preapproved questions, no talking to each other (!), no followups; no reason to watch.

    Still, I'll watch, if only in the hopes that Bush will stumble badly over a fact or two.

    • Re:How true (sadly) (Score:5, Interesting)

      by hackstraw ( 262471 ) * on Tuesday September 28, 2004 @05:26PM (#10377930)
      Yeah, the only interesting thing that is allowed are hypothetical questions. One I would ask Bush would be:

      What would you call two people that under an investigation that require all of the following to be true in order to participate in that investigation? 1) That the two people must be allowed to testify jointly 2) That they would not be required to take an oath before testifying; 3) That the testimony would not be recorded electronically or transcribed, and that the only record would be notes taken by one of the commission staffers; and finally 4) That these notes would not be made public.

      For those that don't know these were the requirements posed by Bush and Cheney in order to participate in the investigation of the largest attack on our nation within our borders.

      Feel free to draw your own conclusions and vote accordingly.
      • Re:How true (sadly) (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Keebler71 ( 520908 ) on Tuesday September 28, 2004 @05:44PM (#10378137) Journal
        Um... they didn't have to testify at all - due to separation of powers. Since this wasn't an impeachment hearing (at least not yet) or independent council investigation, the congress has no business investigating the office of the president. All of the stipulations you mention were specifically put in place to change the tone of the interview from being one of investigators investigating the president, to one of two equal branches of government having a dialogue. I think Bush also released some sort of statement saying to the effect that his meeting with the committee was not to be the basis of any future precedent.
      • Re:How true (sadly) (Score:5, Informative)

        by jalefkowit ( 101585 ) <.moc.ztiwokfelnosaj. .ta. .nosaj.> on Tuesday September 28, 2004 @06:28PM (#10378529) Homepage

        Yeah, the only interesting thing that is allowed are hypothetical questions.

        Which is probably why one of the first lessons any politician has drilled into him by The Experts is "Never answer a hypothetical question. []"

        Indeed, they learn a whole battery of rhetorical tricks specifically to avoid having to deal with hypotheticals. Watch the next time you see somebody pose one to a politician -- any politician -- and you'll immediately see that, no matter what their answer, it has nothing to do with the hypothetical. Which is a shame, since hypotheticals can be useful ways to see how someone thinks; but maybe that's the reason why they avoid them so assiduously...

  • C'mon Now (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Pave Low ( 566880 ) on Tuesday September 28, 2004 @05:06PM (#10377677) Journal
    You think Badnarik and Cobb are more worthy to be called the third party candidates?

    Get real now. Ralph Nader is registering 1 percent in the polls. He is more worthy of being in the debates than these two clowns.

    Hardly anybody knows who Badnarik and Cobb are, why they hell should they be in the major leagues? Maybe if they ran a better campaign, got the names on the ballots, and polled better than 0%, they would be on prime time. As it is, I have no problem excluding any yahoo from the debate just because they think they belong.

    • Re:C'mon Now (Score:5, Insightful)

      by panda ( 10044 ) on Tuesday September 28, 2004 @05:17PM (#10377815) Homepage Journal
      Badnarik's name is on the ballot in 49 states. He's not on the ballot in NH because someone in the NH Libertarian Party failed to get the paperwork in on time.

      If Badnarik and Cobb were invited to the debates, then people would know who they are and could hear them speak.

      Maybe, if 3rd parties weren't so roundly shut out by the ruling oligarchy, more people would actually be interested enough to vote, and just maybe we could have some real change in policy, instead of six or one or half-dozen of the other.
  • by American AC in Paris ( 230456 ) * on Tuesday September 28, 2004 @05:07PM (#10377683) Homepage
    Hell, I want full presidential debates. Every single candidate. []

    The opinions of people like Mr. Larry J. Schutter [] of the Turtle Party [] and Darren Karr [] of Party-X [] are every bit as valid as those of Badnarik and Cobb. Likewise, they all share the same chance of winning said office. What makes Badnarik and Cobb more deserving of a debate than any of the other "Dark Horse" candidates?

    • My personal preference for the threshhold of who should be in the debates is this:

      Add up the total electoral votes for all states on which the candidate is on the ballot. If this number is enough to gain election, the candidate should be involved in the debates. So if you can get on the ballot in Texas, California, New York, Florida, and a few other states, you should be eligible for the debates.
    • by cpeikert ( 9457 ) <> on Tuesday September 28, 2004 @05:43PM (#10378125) Homepage
      Hell, I want full presidential debates. Every single candidate.

      I know you're joking, but there is an easy answer to this: anybody who is on enough state ballots to have a mathematical chance of winning a majority under the Electoral College should be invited.

      How many candidates would that include? Get ready for it...: 6. Including Bush and Kerry. That's half as many as some of the debates during primaries. It's entirely feasible.
    • You want more debates?

      I guess you never took a debate class. Debate is a skill, a methodology of speaking applied to the facts that is not designed to elucidate facts, but to persuade the audience, sometimes flying in the face of the facts. A skilled debator will win a debate regardless of wheteher he believes in his point or even has ample facts to support his case. Truth and debate are strange bedfellows.

      Political platforms are supposed to convey the facts about what a political candidate stands for
  • "Debates" (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Knightfall ( 558914 ) on Tuesday September 28, 2004 @05:07PM (#10377688)
    Anyone who has read my posts can quickly guess I am a republican, but this "debate" process really turns my stomach. Practiced questions, scripted answers, attempts at "humor", and no outside candidates is unacceptable. We need these third, 4th, 5th etc party candidates pushing the mainstream runners to answer questions they don't want to answer. On paper Bush and Kerry are both so equally horrible that it is impossible to distinguish between them. Putting a strong third party runner in there with them with unscripted questions is exactly what we need to see what they really are. It amazes me they are both (Bush and Kerry) so fearful of getting a question they aren't ready for or being upstaged by someone actually in touch with true American feelings that they are their debate-fixing group make it impossible to find out anything that resembles the truth.

    I've said it many times ... we have got to get a strong third party in place and soon to push the political mountain or we are going to watch these two parties merge into one uncontrollable monster.
    • Re:"Debates" (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mcrbids ( 148650 ) on Tuesday September 28, 2004 @05:28PM (#10377963) Journal
      I've said it many times ... we have got to get a strong third party in place and soon to push the political mountain or we are going to watch these two parties merge into one uncontrollable monster.

      Words are cheap. You can say it many times, and you can be right. What's the difference between somebody who can't read, and somebody who doesn't read? Nothing. Your wisdom doesn't matter if it's not translated into action.

      Why don't YOU start such a party? You say "we" which implies you and at least one other person. Start this party you speak of - get funding, find a candidate if not yourself!

      See, the USA is politically "open source". Anybody can make their dent, and the rules are reasonably simple and apply to everybody.

      Just as we have Microsoft ruling the computer technology scene as a Monopoly, the Right/Left wings grapple in
      a Machiavelian struggle, swinging us "right" and "left" while moving us forward towards....?

      Ross Perot almost did it []. For a while, there, it actually looked as though he was going to win the presidency!

      You could, too. We need an impassioned, trusted, charismatic, reasonable-sounding candidate who's willing to go the mile, and it would be a LONG mile.

      I've considered joining the fray a few times, myself. Whether or not I'm "impassioned" enough or "charismatic" is an determination best left to listeners.

      You have tremendous power in cable-access media. You can produce a broadcast quality show with a budget of under $50/week. (I know, I've done it!) FCC rules require this community-access television to be funded - it's just that few people actually stand up and produce the programming. Once a show is produced, it only requires a local sponsor to air the show in each community.

      So, who's going to actually do it? You?
    • Re:"Debates" (Score:3, Insightful)

      by josecanuc ( 91 )
      Take a look at []
  • by RanceMuhamitz ( 817066 ) on Tuesday September 28, 2004 @05:08PM (#10377694) Homepage
    In the last third party debate Badnarik mentioned eliminating the Federal Reserve. He suggests using the American Liberty Currency []as an alternative currency that is backed by gold and silver. I think this is an excellent idea.
    • Doesn't it all seem like kind of a scheme though?

      "I simply hand them the currency as payment. 95% of the businesses accept it"

      Come on now. If that's not a lie, it's sure a distortion.

      Then I go to look for liberty merchants in my area (WA state), almost all of them are "associates". Then you look at this page:

      Description of the associate system []

      It's a pyramid scheme! They even admit it. You give them $250, they give you $100 in their currency back. But you can make the remainder back by getting more pe
    • Badnarik mentioned eliminating the Federal Reserve. He suggests using the American Liberty Currency as an alternative currency that is backed by gold and silver. I think this is an excellent idea.

      OK, but why do you think that? I followed your link to find out for myself, and I concluded that this idea is completely kooky. Aside from all the weird rubbish about international bankers etc, why do you think it would be a good idea to yoke the value of your currency to a pair of commodities? Yes, inflation and
    • Status Report of U.S. Treasury Owned Gold August 31, 2004: []

      Gold owned by the U.S. Treasury: $11 billion
      Gold held by the Federal Reserve: $586 million

      FRB Currency and Coin Services: []

      Currency in Circulation: (2003) $690 billion, 1/2-2/3 held abroad

      Consider the contraction in credit implied by a return to the gold standard. What happens when 2/3 of america's gold reserves can be claimed abroad?

    • He suggests using the American Liberty Currency as an alternative currency that is backed by gold and silver. I think this is an excellent idea.

      It's an excellent idea...for people who like the idea of a fully-backed long as there aren't too many such people.

      In another Slashdot thread a month or two ago, someone proposed using physical pure-gold currency in all transactions. The problem is, there isn't enough gold.

      Very roughly, the total amount of gold ever mined is on the order of thre []

  • sweet! (Score:4, Funny)

    by TedCheshireAcad ( 311748 ) <ted&fc,rit,edu> on Tuesday September 28, 2004 @05:09PM (#10377703) Homepage
    So the candidates that no one is going to vote for are going to have a debate that no one is going to watch?

    /join #care-police
  • by operagost ( 62405 ) on Tuesday September 28, 2004 @05:09PM (#10377714) Homepage Journal
    I wish Slashdot had a nutritional information label, so that I could look at it and see if it had any non-troll content.

    The "official" debates are highly flawed, but to call them pseudo-debates because you don't like them is absurd. They are real debates, with real moderation and real issues. Many complain that there's really one Republicrat party with the same ideals, but I suggest that it only seems that way if your own interests swing wildly to one end of the political spectrum. Wake up, radicals, most people congregate somewhere near the center. It's generally only the unstable nations with strong factions at the extremes. I grow weary of people who demand instant change, and don't care if it's against the public will or good because they're sure they're right. That kind of thinking got us the Alien and Sedition acts and Prohibition.

    That being said, I'm happy to see an alternate party debate and hope it is a success.

    • by geomon ( 78680 ) on Tuesday September 28, 2004 @05:41PM (#10378109) Homepage Journal
      Wake up, radicals, most people congregate somewhere near the center.

      Then you must have missed the primaries.

      No process is more dominated by fringe elements within the Republican and Democratic parties than the primaries. For 15 years I attended Republican caucuses in my state and organized around centrist candidates only to see the process hijacked by radicals.

      Your rant about the other parties is way off the mark. The centrists have left the major parties looking for parties that the middle CAN vote for.

      And I, for one, am not looking for instant change. I am working at the local level (school districts, county commissioners, state reps and senators) for victories that will make the major parties begin to pay attention again.

      If you continue to stay with the major parties, you are begging to be controlled by the fringe.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 28, 2004 @05:09PM (#10377715)
    My wife and I will debate over what's for dinner, what to do after dinner, and whether there will be any extracurriculars later that night.

    Sadly, the debate is meaningless, as marriage is a dictatorship.
  • by stuffduff ( 681819 ) on Tuesday September 28, 2004 @05:11PM (#10377735) Journal
    Bush suggests that Kerry could debate himself for 90 minutes. This is probably true. Unfortunately Bush probably couldn't even pull that off; but the maliprops and 'Bushisms' of him debating himself would be priceless.
  • by Buzz_Litebeer ( 539463 ) on Tuesday September 28, 2004 @05:19PM (#10377838) Journal
    Is what Bush did back in 2000 against Gore. Bush had such a complete lack of understanding of the subject that at one point he just called what Gore said "Fuzzy Math", which should have been a big red beacon saying "He doesnt know what he is doing" and instead people thought he was witty and that it won the debate through personality.

    I just hope he doesnt think of something equally retarded to say that will completely avoid the question, while showing how childish he can be in front of the public.

  • by wsherman ( 154283 ) * on Tuesday September 28, 2004 @05:23PM (#10377887)
    What the debates need is someone who will ask the candidates what they actually mean when they say some pleasantly patriotic abstraction:

    "They hate our freedom"?

    Define precisely who "they" are and what is meant by "freedom" and then provide a precisely reasoned argument why it is that they would "hate" it.
  • by JohnnyDanger ( 680986 ) on Tuesday September 28, 2004 @05:24PM (#10377905)
    I'd like to see the moderator chuck out the debate rulebook in the middle of the debate. What would happen, I wonder?

    (Nobody wants to be the first candidate to say, "Now this isn't what I signed up for.")

    Of course, that would probably run afoul of their agreement to moderate the debate: tories/151247.shtml [].

    I want to see hard questions asked. Let the candidates ask each other questions. Have fact-checkers on hand.

    I want to see Bush and Kerry squirm a little bit. A president's job is to run a country, yet the forum we set up for them to perform is as safe and predictable as possible.

    Sigh... Something unpredictable would be nice. I always feel like I know what the next thing out of their mouths is going to be.

  • by Syntroxis ( 564739 ) on Tuesday September 28, 2004 @05:24PM (#10377910)
    Oh, I wish that there was a way to get a third party involved in a legitimate run for the president.

    All we have been able to do for years is to select the lesser of two evils.

    We have become the government of the people, by the lawyers, and for the corporations.

    The "powers in charge" will never to do anything to jepoardize their power in this country and the world.

    It's also interesting that our choice this time is between two members of skull and bones.

  • by mcg1969 ( 237263 ) on Tuesday September 28, 2004 @05:28PM (#10377958)
    Now I personally am a two-party man. I don't particularly have difficult with the two-party system. And I believe that the best way for people who lean to third-party platforms to effect change is to work through their local elections on up.

    Having said that I would quite welcome an approval voting system, whereby we can vote for as many candidates that we choose for any given office. This would allow people to safely register their support for a third-party candidate while risking becoming a "spoiler" for the candidate that they frankly would tolerate if they had to. So for example, a Nader supporter could vote for both Nader and Kerry. A Constitution party supporter could vote for Peroutka and Bush.

    As a result, we could all get an honest assessment of how much support and influence these third-party candidates would receive. I would still advocate a "trigger" of, say, 5-10% before a party would receive preferential treatment with regards to public funding and/or debate access. Nevertheless, I think that grassroots efforts would be far more likely to take hold in such a system.
  • by muntjac ( 805565 ) on Tuesday September 28, 2004 @05:28PM (#10377964)
    The CPD merely does everything the democrats and republicans jointly ask them to do. Basically neither of the parties want a real debate so they have gotten the CPD to do their dirty work and appear to be at fault.

    found this document at
  • Michael Bradnick (Score:3, Insightful)

    by greymond ( 539980 ) on Tuesday September 28, 2004 @06:36PM (#10378591) Homepage Journal
    I'm actually going to be tuning in to watch the Bradnick vs. Cobb debate. I swear everytime I listen to Bush or Kerry speak all I can think about is sports players who after a major play in their interview all say the same shit "You know I just had to get in there, try my best, give 110%, practice everyday, thank my family and god for support" blah blah blah - I want to hear someone who can talk better than I write. Someone who doesn't have all the answers on a que card, someone who's not afraid to say "i'm not sure" instead of "it'll be fine"
    • The problem is, once you say something like "I don't know", then the rest of the campaign is reduced to soundbites like this:

      "Beardo doesn't know about Marcoeconomics. Vote Greymond - because a bad plan is better than no plan!"

      Same with changing your mind. I used to hate girls; now I love `em. If you're running for president, it's flip-flopping. Otherwise, it's puberty.
  • by wayward ( 770747 ) on Tuesday September 28, 2004 @06:46PM (#10378684)
    As a bit of background, I'm involved in Indy Media, which essentially tries to provide alternatives to mainstream/corporately-owned media. Since I was hoping to cover the debate and some of the surrounding events, I applied for media credentials. Yesterday, I got the following email from the commission:

    To all recipients on this list:

    The Commission on Presidential Debates appreciates your interest in covering the debates. However, at this time, your application has been denied. Applications are declined due to security concerns, space limitations, or other reasons.

    Thank you,

    The Commission on Presidential Debates

    See also php [] and []

  • by sl4shd0rk ( 755837 ) on Tuesday September 28, 2004 @07:49PM (#10379161)
    The machines [] control the matrix now.
  • by JimBean ( 610952 ) on Tuesday September 28, 2004 @09:06PM (#10379632)
    I thought I would point out that there is a similar debate occurring at Cornell on October 6th. It will include both David Cobb and Michael Badnarik as well as the candidates for the Socialist and Constitutional Parties, Walt Brown and Michael Peroutka respectively. Nader was invited but has not given an official response (although I've heard he'll be in upstate New York at the time and could show up). Anyway, the event is being covered by C-SPAN and some regional networks, so there could be some real TV coverage (both locally and nationally). These candidates are not really going to impact the national election, but it's nice to hear some different political viewpoints.
  • by Jacek Poplawski ( 223457 ) on Wednesday September 29, 2004 @04:02AM (#10381457)
    I just want to ask, how can you call your government "democracy" if there are only two parties, only two candidates? Sure, in Poland democracy is young and stupid, but at least we have few parties, few more or less stupid candidates for president, etc... most people are tired with democracy and don't go to vote, but at least we have choices... what choices are in USA? I remember Bush vs Gore, is it always "smaller evil" to choose?

The shortest distance between two points is under construction. -- Noelie Alito