A dissenting view on Martha Raddatz’s performance as moderator of the veep debate

Like many another pundit, I praised Martha Raddatz yesterday (HERE) for the job she did Thursday night as moderator of the vice presidential debate in Danville, Ky.

Blogger David Roberts, however, saw it differently. He agrees that Raddatz was better than Jim Lehrer had been as moderator of the Obama-Romney debate a week earlier, but he thinks she was otherwise NOT VERY GOOD:

A moderator’s role as referee is only half the job. The other half is selecting topics and questions, which frame the debate far more than the refereeing. And Raddatz’s choice of topics and questions was awful.

Put aside, for a moment, the foreign policy stuff. It was a little ridiculous that Raddatz basically asked the candidates about her interests — Libya, Syria, Iran, Afghanistan — and said nothing about the Asia Pacific, Latin America, Russia, or any of the rest of the big wide world that’s not in the Middle East.

But it’s domestic policy where Raddatz, like Lehrer, blew it. She started by asking about unemployment, which is at least a gesture at the enormous suffering in the country right now. That set off minutes and minutes of rambling, all of which was boilerplate…

Then it was straight to “entitlements,” which, in case you weren’t aware of the Beltway CW, Raddatz introduced by saying, “Both Medicare and Social Security are going broke.” That is just absolutely, empirically false. Medicare is fine out to 2024 and easily fixable after that (it’s medical costs, not Medicare, that are the real problem). And Social Security quite literally cannot go broke. It too can be kept solvent for many decades with small tweaks. Neither is a problem until a decade from now.

Of all the requirements for a debate moderators, surely the very minimum is that he or she not introduce factual errors into the discussion. No?

And then it was on to taxes and the defense budget. I kept thinking, “This is exactly the stuff we went over the other night in the presidential debate! Where are immigration, education, innovation, housing, LGBT issues? Where is energy? Where is, God forbid, climate change?”


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