Opinion

NBC forum shows why moderators must take charge during future debates

Election rewind: Trump, Clinton go head to head on national security

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump appeared back to back in the first Commander-in-Chief Forum in New York, hosted by NBC, where national security took center stage. Clinton spoke again about her email controversy and appealed to voters to consider
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Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump appeared back to back in the first Commander-in-Chief Forum in New York, hosted by NBC, where national security took center stage. Clinton spoke again about her email controversy and appealed to voters to consider

To use a football analogy, Donald Trump is one big head fake and nobody is going to gain much ground understanding him until they start trying to tackle the body.

You would think the media and Democrats would have learned this by observing the GOP primary for the past 15 months. Trump is a master at pulling the loose thread out of a question and running with it in a new direction so quickly you find yourself in a new area code.

Matt Lauer and NBC were no match for him during the so-called “Commander-In-Chief” forum Wednesday.

Example: When Today Show host Lauer tried to get at Trump’s routine of making outlandish remarks and then later voicing regrets — saying this won’t play well in military affairs, global relations and diplomacy — Lauer allowed Trump to brag and retell the story of defeating his opponents in the primary.

Lauer should have been more forceful with direct questions about things a budding commander in chief should know about: Besides talk, what should be done about North Korea and Chinese aggressions? What’s the connection between cyberwarfare and conventional warfare and what should we be doing to prevent catastrophe? What’s the status of the F-35 fighter and where’s the end of cost overruns? Our enemies know our aircraft carrier fleet is key to our offense and defense and they are devising ways to neutralize it. What’s our strategy?

Hillary Clinton was put into a position of Explainer-In-Chief on the email issue and her Iraq war vote — both legitimate questions —but she burned up so much time with those answers we got little out of her about military policy. Yes, she wants to eradicate ISIS, but is unwilling to commit ground troops to get the job done — whatever that means.

Going ballistic over Trump’s daily bombastic comments and insinuations lasts about as long as a swarm of leafhopper bugs mesmerized by a street light. Trump’s base loves everything he says and the Democrats make a 24-hour chew toy by extrapolation and dissecting his sentences. The rest of us go to bed hungry for details.

Some things need to change if we are going to get anywhere figuring out who Trump and Clinton are. I am wary of what may happen in the Sept. 26 debate — another NBC production — unless:

▪ A series of yes/no questions is juxtaposed in the script allowing only 10-second explanations.

▪ Moderators are prepared to turn off microphones when candidates offer wind pudding and air sauce instead of meaty answers.

▪ Candidates get one minute to define their opponent at the onset and then are penalized with time deductions every time they backslide. We want to know them — not their take on the other person. Give us credit for having some discernment.

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