What happened Tuesday night was a joke. If the “town hall” style of debate allows the most fundamental rules of debating to be violated then no one should use it. In a real debate the candidates don’t ask each other questions, they take questions and give answers. In a real debate the candidates do not address each other at length. Even the strange Biden-Ryan debate last week had more structure and decorum, and it was like an episode of Oprah.
Candy Crowley was not a moderator, she was an emcee at an infomercial. Romney’s behavior was execrable – he was rude, he was talking over Crowley as she tried to keep to some sort of schedule, but most of all he actually went up to the current President of the United States and yelled in his face like a playground bully. No matter how you feel about a sitting president, there are rules of behavior and a certain amount of decorum to be observed in dealing with him or her. Romney stepped way over the line.
Obama started fighting fire with fire, elongating his answers and ignoring the clock. Pretty soon that red “0:00” came to be meaningless. But worst of all was the incredible amount of snide byplay and the obvious ducking of questions by both candidates – often their “answers” had absolutely nothing to do with the questions. That showed unbearable disrespect for the citizens who were posing the questions.