Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Rating the Moderators - Now, fresher than ever!

Click here for Amazon!Update: I thought Bob Schieffer did a creditable job. In my heart of hearts, I was fearing the worst.

In spite of the fact that Hugh Hewitt retired his old symposium question (rating the moderators of the 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:

Third Presidential Debate - Schieffer

[5] Question 1: Will our children and grandchildren ever live in a world as safe and secure as the world in which we grew up?
[4] Question 2: we find ourselves with a severe shortage of flu vaccine. How did that happen?
[7] Question 3: how can you keep [taxes] pledge without running this country deeper into debt and passing on more of the bills that we're running up to our children?
[2] Question 4: what do you say to someone in this country who has lost his job to someone overseas who's being paid a fraction of what that job paid here in the United States?
[7] Question 5: is it fair to blame the administration entirely for this loss of jobs?
[2] Question 6: Do you believe homosexuality is a choice?
[9 ] Question 7: NYT reports that some Catholic archbishops are telling their church members that it would be a sin to vote for a candidate like you... reaction?
[4] Question 8: Health insurance costs have risen over 36 percent over the last four years according to WaPo. Who bears responsibility for this?
[9] Question 9: Massive health plan... where do you get the money?
[1] Question 10: Social Security... has to be fixed. Where do you get the money?
[9] Question 11: Greenspan... SocSec must be recalibrated... aren't you leaving another problem for our children to solve?
[5] Question 12: 8,000 people cross our borders illegally every day. How do you see it? And what we need to do about it?
[5] Question 13: Minimum wage stuck at $5.15 an hour now for about seven years. Is it time to raise it?
[1] Question 14: Appoint Judge... Roe v. Wade?
[1] Question 15: ANG and backdoor draft relief?
[3] Question 16: Congress... extend the ban on assault weapons, that you'd sign the legislation, but you did nothing to encourage the Congress to extend it. Why not?
[5] Question 17: Affirmative action: Do you see a need for affirmative action programs?
[5] Question 18: What part does your faith play on your policy decisions?
[5] Question 19: Attitude on polarization?
[5] Question 20: What have you learned from strong women?

Average: 4.7, slightly skewed towards the challenger, total 94

Second presidential debate - Gibson

[9] Question 1: Sen. Kerry, Are you wishy-washy?
[1] Question 2: Mr. President, do you sincerely believe you had a reasonable justification for invading Iraq?
[5] Question 3: Sen. Kerry, would you have a different plan than the president for Iraq?
[1] Question 4: President Bush, what is your plan to repair diplomatic relations with other countries?
[5] Question 5: Sen. Kerry, what will you do about Iran if the United Nations doesn't take any action?
[5] Question 6 : President Bush, how will you maintain our military strength without a draft?
[9] Question 7: Sen. Kerry, why haven't we been attacked since September 11 and how do you propose to assure our safety?
[1] Question 8: President Bush, why did you block the importation of drugs from Canada?
[9] 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?
[5] Question 10: President Bush, please explain why your spending plans are superior to Sen. Kerry's.
[7] Question 11: Sen. Kerry, will you pledge not to raise taxes on families making less than $200,000 during your first term?
[3] Question 12: President Bush, how would you rate yourself as an environmentalist?
[5] Question 13: Sen. Kerry, how can the U.S. be competitive in manufacturing and still pay the wages Americans have come to expect?
[1] Question 14: President Bush, why are our rights being weakened by the Patriot Act, and what was the justification for it?
[7] 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?
[7] Question 17: Sen. Kerry, how can you assure a voter who believes abortion is murder that their tax dollars would not support abortion?
[1] 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

[1] Question 1 -- The report you requested said there was no link between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda.
[9] Question 2 -- Would a Kerry-Edwards administration have left Saddam Hussein in power?
[1] Question 3 -- Your plan for bin Laden and other terrorists?
[9] Question 4 -- What did Kerry say about "global test"?
[7] Question 5 -- Is Cheney saying a Kerry presidency would be dangerous?
[3] Question 6 -- Is it naive to try to internationalize Iraq effort?
[5] Question 7- Can any administration get accurate intelligence on terrorism?
[1] Question 8 -- Should sanctions be lifted against Iran?
[5] Question 9 -- What should be done to end Israeli-Palestinian conflict?
[5] Question 10 - What will your administration do to ease joblessness and poverty?
[7] Question 11 - Can Kerry guarantee not to raise taxes and cut the deficit?
[3] Question 12 - How can Cheney support Bush administration's ban on same-sex unions?
[7] Question 13 - What is Kerry and Edwards' stance on gay marriage?
[9] Question 14 -- Has John Edwards, a former trial lawyer, been part of the problem of higher medical costs?
[3] Question 15 -- Is Edwards being personally attacked when Cheney talks about legal reform and the president talks about a trial lawyer?
[3] Question 16 -- What can the government do about AIDS?
[7] Question 17 -- What qualifies Edwards to be vice president?
[5] Question 18 -- Without mentioning [the presidential candidates] by name, how are you different from the other vice presidential candidate?
[7] Question 19 -- Is changing positions bad?
[3] Question 20 -- How can the divisions in the United States be bridged?

Average: 5, right down the middle, total 100

First presidential debate - Lehrer

[5] Question 1 -- Who could best prevent another 9/11?
[7] Question 2 -- Would a Kerry win increase risk of terror?
[1] Question 3 -- What 'colossal misjudgments' has Bush made?
[3] Question 4 -- Who's top target, bin Laden or Saddam?
[3] Question 5 -- How would you improve homeland security?
[4] Question 6 -- Criteria to bring troops home?
[6] Question 7 -- Are U.S. soldiers dying for a mistake?
[3] Question 8 -- What was the 'miscalculation' in Iraq?
[1] Question 9 -- When has Bush misled the public?
[3] Question 10 -- Has the war been worth the loss of life?
[3] Question 11 -- When will the war in Iraq end?
[4] Question 12 -- Would Bush lead another pre-emptive war?
[5] Question 13 -- What is Kerry's position on pre-emptive war?
[5] Question 14 -- Are diplomacy, sanctions effective?
[5] Question 15 -- Why not send troops to Sudan?
[7] Question 16 -- Does Bush see Kerry character flaws?
[5] Question 17 -- What is the most serious threat to national security?
[2] Question 18 -- Did Bush misjudge Putin?

Average: 4, heavily tilted towards challenger, total 72

To answer Hugh's question... which moderator was most centrist:

First place: Ifill, 5.0 centrist
Second place: Schieffer, 4.7 slightly Left
Third place: Gibson, 4.5 centrist Left
Last place: Lehrer, 4.0, heavily Left

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