Rating the Moderators
I had some friends over last night to watch the second presidential debate. If we were drinking men -- and were playing one of those drinking games where you downed a shot of tequila every time John Kerry said "I have a plan" -- well, I might be dead of alcohol poisoning, T would be passed out on the lawn, and M would be in a coma at Bethesda Hospital.
John Kerry said, "I have a plan" (or equivalent) seventeen times during last night's debate, including six times in one answer. That's a lot of plans, especially for a twenty year senator with a track record of non-accomplishment. A lot of plans for a Senator who ended upon on the wrong side of history during the Cold War, the battles with the Sandanistas, Libya, the first Gulf War, and the rise of global terrorism.
In spite of the fact that Hugh Hewitt retired his most recent symposium question (rating the moderators of the first three debates), I plowed ahead just out of casual interest. How did the questions stack up?
I rate each question from 1 to 9, with 1 being skewed towards the challenger and 9 being biased towards the president. An average score of around 5 would indicate a centrist agenda on the part of the moderator. Here are the debates with the most recent one listed first:
Second presidential debate - Gibson
 Question 1: Sen. Kerry, Are you wishy-washy?
 Question 2: Mr. President, do you sincerely believe you had a reasonable justification for invading Iraq?
 Question 3: Sen. Kerry, would you have a different plan than the president for Iraq?
 Question 4: President Bush, what is your plan to repair diplomatic relations with other countries?
 Question 5: Sen. Kerry, what will you do about Iran if the United Nations doesn't take any action?
 Question 6 : President Bush, how will you maintain our military strength without a draft?
 Question 7: Sen. Kerry, why haven't we been attacked since September 11 and how do you propose to assure our safety?
 Question 8: President Bush, why did you block the importation of drugs from Canada?
 Question 9: Sen. Kerry, you're concerned about the rising cost of health care -- why did you chose a running mater who has made millions suing medical professionals?
 Question 10: President Bush, please explain why your spending plans are superior to Sen. Kerry's.
 Question 11: Sen. Kerry, will you pledge not to raise taxes on families making less than $200,000 during your first term?
 Question 12: President Bush, how would you rate yourself as an environmentalist?
 Question 13: Sen. Kerry, how can the U.S. be competitive in manufacturing and still pay the wages Americans have come to expect?
 Question 14: President Bush, why are our rights being weakened by the Patriot Act, and what was the justification for it?
 Question 15: Sen. Kerry, wouldn't it be wise to use stem cells obtained without destroying an embryo?
Question 16: President Bush, who would be your next choice for the Supreme Court?
 Question 17: Sen. Kerry, how can you assure a voter who believes abortion is murder that their tax dollars would not support abortion?
 Question 18: President Bush, please give three instances when you think you made a bad decision, and what you did to correct it.
Average: 4.5, skewed towards the challenger, total 81
Vice-presidential debate - Ifill
 Question 1 -- The report you requested said there was no link between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda.
 Question 2 -- Would a Kerry-Edwards administration have left Saddam Hussein in power?
 Question 3 -- Your plan for bin Laden and other terrorists?
 Question 4 -- What did Kerry say about "global test"?
 Question 5 -- Is Cheney saying a Kerry presidency would be dangerous?
 Question 6 -- Is it naive to try to internationalize Iraq effort?
 Question 7- Can any administration get accurate intelligence on terrorism?
 Question 8 -- Should sanctions be lifted against Iran?
 Question 9 -- What should be done to end Israeli-Palestinian conflict?
 Question 10 - What will your administration do to ease joblessness and poverty?
 Question 11 - Can Kerry guarantee not to raise taxes and cut the deficit?
 Question 12 - How can Cheney support Bush administration's ban on same-sex unions?
 Question 13 - What is Kerry and Edwards' stance on gay marriage?
 Question 14 -- Has John Edwards, a former trial lawyer, been part of the problem of higher medical costs?
 Question 15 -- Is Edwards being personally attacked when Cheney talks about legal reform and the president talks about a trial lawyer?
 Question 16 -- What can the government do about AIDS?
 Question 17 -- What qualifies Edwards to be vice president?
 Question 18 -- Without mentioning [the presidential candidates] by name, how are you different from the other vice presidential candidate?
 Question 19 -- Is changing positions bad?
 Question 20 -- How can the divisions in the United States be bridged?
Average: 5, right down the middle, total 100
First presidential debate - Lehrer
 Question 1 -- Who could best prevent another 9/11?
 Question 2 -- Would a Kerry win increase risk of terror?
 Question 3 -- What 'colossal misjudgments' has Bush made?
 Question 4 -- Who's top target, bin Laden or Saddam?
 Question 5 -- How would you improve homeland security?
 Question 6 -- Criteria to bring troops home?
 Question 7 -- Are U.S. soldiers dying for a mistake?
 Question 8 -- What was the 'miscalculation' in Iraq?
 Question 9 -- When has Bush misled the public?
 Question 10 -- Has the war been worth the loss of life?
 Question 11 -- When will the war in Iraq end?
 Question 12 -- Would Bush lead another pre-emptive war?
 Question 13 -- What is Kerry's position on pre-emptive war?
 Question 14 -- Are diplomacy, sanctions effective?
 Question 15 -- Why not send troops to Sudan?
 Question 16 -- Does Bush see Kerry character flaws?
 Question 17 -- What is the most serious threat to national security?
 Question 18 -- Did Bush misjudge Putin?
Average: 4, heavily tilted towards challenger, total 72
To answer Hugh's question:
First place: Ifill
Second place: Gibson
Last place: Lehrer
There's a funny photo caption contest over at Captain's Quarters. The challenger is caught in a somewaht compromising position... and hopefully the French are not involved.