Republican presidential debates not addressing serious issues 

The Republican presidential debates are looking more and more like symptoms of the problems we’ve got than part of the process of solving them. These events are supposed to be about quality information, raising the bar and producing a thoughtful, informed electorate. But they are being produced to provide entertainment, and we are barely getting that.

Technology didn’t take the place of substance at the Thursday debate. YouTube and real-time polling are not substitutes for thoughtful, provocative questioning.

Can it really be that Rick Perry was not pushed after all the heat being thrown out on Social Security, on specifically how he would reform it?

Can it be, as so many health care experts have exposed the long list of failures of Romneycare in Massachusetts, that Mitt Romney was not grilled thoroughly on this?

Can it be that, on a day where the stock market in our country dropped 3.5 percent and in China 5 percent, that candidates were not asked what they think is wrong with the global economy?

Why, when everyone knows that Rick Santorum is a social conservative, would the question on “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy in the military be directed to him? His answer was a surprise to no one. Why wasn’t Romney the one questioned on this?

Why, instead of time being wasted with stupid questions like “Who on this stage would you choose as your vice president?” would the question not be asked “Who is your favorite justice on the Supreme Court?”

Romney and Michele Bachmann have said they will repeal Obamacare on Day 1. Wouldn’t you think someone would ask what happens on Day 2? What would they do with our health care system, which clearly has problems?

With all the focus on Social Security, policy experts generally agree that the problems of Medicare are much bigger and more complex. Yet, there has not been a single question about Medicare and what, if anything, should be done to reform it.

Allowing the debates to become an exclusively technocratic discussion about the economy obfuscates key differences between these Republican candidates and the two parties. It is a symptom of the big problems of our country that we appear incapable of having presidential debates with serious questions.

Star Parker is a Scripps Howard News Service columnist and president of CURE, Center for Urban Renewal and Education for Urban Renewal and Education (www.urbancure.org).

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