It's the questions, not just the answers
Published 11:00 pm Monday, October 4, 2004
If you didn't watch the first presidential debate on television Thursday night, you must be one of the lucky few with either satellite or your cable's back on.
The rest of us watched that uncomfortable thing either out of good citizenship or because our rabbit ears could get nothing else. Maybe you were reading a good book.
The debate was supposed to be about foreign policy. What followed the introductions was 90 minutes of sniping and carping about Iraq, flip-flopping, stubborn wrong-headedness and oh yeah, North Korea has nuclear weapons and Iran is well on its way to having them.
If I heard correctly, moderator Jim Lehrer of the famously moderate PBS came up with the debate questions all by himself. Jim gets one point for asking about Vladimir Putin's power grab in Russia, and minus one point for presupposing Kerry will be elected president in one of his questions.
If this were to be a true debate about foreign policy, lets take a look at a number of questions that weren't asked Thursday night.
China still has the world's largest population, one of it largest militaries and one of the world's fastest growing economies. It also has close ties to North Korea. Seems like good grounds for at least one question in there.
Libya recently agreed to dismantle its nuclear "power" program and give broad-ranging access to international inspectors. Again, this event was not deemed worthy of a question Thursday night.
There were no questions about Saudi Arabia and how we should deal with this country which is clearly playing both ends against the middle.
Another chin scratcher is Israel and Palestine. Again, this restless and dangerous part of the world was not touched by the moderator's questions, yet, every president since Jimmy Carter has gone to great lengths in working towards peace in this little corner of the world.
The European Union, by my count, didn't rate a single question, nor did Central or South America or Canada.
How you score the two candidates in the debate is up to you. But take a moment to think about how the questions framed this debate and what was left on the table untouched.
Arthur McLean is the editor of the Atmore Advance.