Presidential Moderation


It’s that time of the election for the presidential debates; a match up that has increasing importance as we delve deeper into the digital media age. Some have proposed that a popular comedian such as John Stuart should host the debates to keep humor present and to keep spectators from being swept away by rhetorical clichés. (If a comedian is to be used, my vote is for a Brit who will laugh at our whole system…Stephen Fry or a Monty Python cast member, perhaps?)

This morning I had an epiphany about who is really the most qualified to host/officiate the presidential debates: A mom. While there are two female moderators on the debate schedule, the role really has to go to a no-nonsense Momma. Who better to handle not only the issues and the candidates, but all the rivalry and squabbling comes along with it? Perhaps the character defamation, blaming, distracting, and all-out bad behaving just needs a little mothering.

Picture it: The lights and cameras are on, the candidates are sharply dressed and smiling to look calm under pressure, and well-rehearsed pat answers are being replayed through their minds as they wave. As questions about the economy, foreign policy, employment, and other important issues pour forth, the candidates will attempt to present themselves well while skillfully crushing the opponent. As the finger pointing begins, a stern throat clearing interrupts. The camera pans over to a raised eye-brow and “that look”. Momma isn’t having it.

“I don’t care who started it or who caused the problem. There’s a problem that needs solving and we’re going to get this fixed without blaming each other.”

“I will not tolerate any lying, name calling, interrupting, or rudeness.”

“Cute smiles and distracting me is not going to work. There is a mess here and the one who made it has to help clean it up.”

“If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”

“Don’t tell elaborate stories; just stick to the facts.”

“Give each other space and keep your hands to yourself.”

“It’s not nice to gossip or make up stories about others, even if you think it is true.”

“Everyone gambles more than they expect to in Vegas. What happens in Vegas very rarely stays in Vegas. Don’t waste all your money.”

“It’s much harder to keep track of which lies you’ve told than to just tell the truth.”

“If you two don’t stop arguing and yelling, I’ll turn right back around and no one gets what they want.”

“Wear clean underwear. You don’t want people to think you’re dirty when you’re making an impression.”

“Look me in the eye when I’m talking to you.”

“It’s not my job to sort out your dirty laundry. If you’re big enough to make the mess, you’re big enough to get yourself out of it.”

“You’re the one who needs the whipping, but having to do it hurts me more than it will hurt you.”

“If you roll your eyes one more time I am going to smack you so hard that they stay that way.”

“You know better than that.”

Yes, some of the mothering clichés would find a welcome and appropriate atmosphere in the presidential debate halls. As I was pondering this, a friend of mine posed an intriguing question to the Facebook world:

“Why is it we chose a president from two candidates, but we choose Miss America from 50?”  Oh, the brilliance. Picture the horrendous glory of a “Mr. President Pageant”! (Sorry, scholarship program.) Really, why not? Contestants have to win in their own state, display poise, have a considerable talent, answer sudden questions on the spot without blaming another contestant, perform under pressure (looking good doing it)… I think there is potential. Let alone the back-stage requirements; there is no hiding what is natural and what has been ‘embellished’ behind the scenes at the Miss America pageant. These ladies know all about preparation and handling a crisis from stuck zippers to handling wedgies while on camera in front of their fellow Americans.

I’d like to see the Presidential and Vice Presidential Nominees try to ‘walk softly and carry a big stick’ in heels while balancing a tiara. I don’t mean that literally, however. The swimsuit competition would be horrifying enough to send us all into therapy. Of course, the principle holds: presidents have to be exposed and on display during high-pressure situations as well. If the Commander in Chief is able to deploy specialized troops or fire nuclear weapons with a word, he should at least be able to twirl a flaming baton.

There have been a lot of satires about Miss America contestants giving uninformed answers but it really doesn’t compare with some of the gaffes that have been on media replays these past few months. These girls don’t have teleprompters, advisers, or back-stage make-up crews to help.  Here are a few of this year’s questions that were fielded by the top 5 only seconds after being selected:

“Obesity is threatening our children’s health, future, and even their lives. There is talk of the government stepping in with new regulations.  Is it any of their business what we feed our kids?”  (Hm… Bloomberg’s soda regulations? Health care operations necessitated by obesity-related issues? School programs?)

“The Occupy Wall Street Movement became a national story in 2011 with thousands of people protesting that 1% of the population controls 99% of the wealth. Do the protesters have a point and what should be done?” (Free speech? Solving social problems and government oversight issues?)

The other questions had to do with freedom of speech, freedom of religious expression, and social media’s responsibility for influencing teens. Past years have held questions about political unrest in foreign regions, evolution-based school curriculum, healthcare, financial crisis solutions, government security with Wiki Leaks and rights to know, healthy competition, and these ladies have only about a minute to answer on the spot.  There is some similarity to the questions asked on the campaign trail, to be sure.

While I certainly don’t wish to see the president in a crown or reigning over the people, perhaps it would help if our government representation tried to make Momma proud, aspired to a little congeniality, and had a strong plan for our part in ‘world peace’ (or harsher punishment for parole violators). Of course, I am secretly hoping they both trip and fall on their faces… Oh wait! They’ve already done that.

Happy debating, Gentlemen.


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