I watched the second Presidential Debate last night. Of course, I’m not an American, but “living next to [the USA] is like sleeping with an elephant; no matter how friendly and even-tempered is the beast, one is affected by every twitch and grunt.” As such, I take care to follow American politics rather closely–and always hope that the least vile people win-out (as, mercifully, happened last night).
At one point, Mitt Romney asserted that President Obama had taken twelve days to call the recent attack on the American consolate in Benghazi an act of “terror.” Obama took exception to this and called upon the moderator to check the transcript of a speech he had given the day after the attack–a transcript which did, indeed, contain the word “terror,” thereby falsifying Romney’s claim. Now, I found this exchange to be a very interesting one: not because I happen to think that the particular word one chooses to apply to an act of murderous violence should be a deciding factor in Presidential elections, but it got me thinking… why aren’t there fact-checkers at debates? Wouldn’t that be a useful thing to have?
I mean, think about it: what if there were to be a Presidential debate that was monitored by a panel of mutually-agreed experts (or at least people with ready access to Wikipedia) and the candidates were free to demand on-spot fact-checks on their opponent’s claims? Wouldn’t that be grand? And also…far more useful to the actual democratic process than the debates as they are currently formatted, where the candidates are free to say whatever shit they want and viewers are therefore forced to make inane decisions about who looked more “presidential” or who looked like they would be “more fun to have a beer with.”
Of course, I can’t imagine most politicians agreeing to such a format.