Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Tension City

Tonight is the first of the Presidential debates between Governor Romney and President Obama. I could point out that the purpose of these debates has been significantly muddied over the past hundred years or so, with the media making it seem as though this is valuable information to inform the American people for their vote, even though the American populace does not elect the President, nor should it. But I've made that argument elsewhere, and I'll stay on topic. Tonight's debate is being moderated by Jim Lehrer, which makes me very happy because he is my favorite moderator.

In honor of this occasion, I want to recommend a book. Last year, Lehrer wrote a book called Tension City, which is all about the tricky business of moderating  debates, and traces some famous debates from recent history. It's great because Jim Lehrer is able to write from the unique perspective of having done it so many times, and he comments on his own failures and those of others. He analyzes certain questions which have gone down in history. And he's quite candid.

I picked up the book shortly after it came out, and I was up all night finishing it. It's not a very long book, and it reads easily. So if you enjoy recent American history, or just wonder what things are like on the other side of your TV screen, I highly recommend it. Near the end of the book, Jim Lehrer says that he has decided to never moderate again (though not the first time he's said it). I'm glad that he didn't keep his word. I look forward to watching him tonight. Presidential debates always have an element of the unknown, but I find something comforting about Lehrer being on the other end of the table. I trust him in the same way prior generations trusted Walter Cronkite. So I hope if any of you tune in tonight you enjoy the debate, and if you are looking for a good read, check out Tension City.

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