September 29th, 2012
10:11 PM ET

Letters to the President #1349: 'All is not fair'

Reporter's Note: President Obama is preparing for his upcoming debate with Mitt Romney, and so am I.

Dear Mr. President,

Despite all the grousing coast to coast about the lack of bipartisan effort in D.C., I must say I was delighted with the way that you and Mitt Romney came together to endorse the idea of bringing the real referees back to the NFL. With all due respect to the fill-in guys, it was a rough few weeks for fans without the official officials on the field.

And now, since you and Gov. Romney are in a cooperative mood, might I make a suggestion? How about adding referees to your debates? Oh sure, there are some great moderators lined up; esteemed journalists who will do a fine job keeping you both at your podiums with your water guns holstered, but I would love to see a team of hard core fact checkers running loose on the stage.

Every time one of you whipped out a talking point of dubious authenticity (you know what I’m talking about…and so does your opponent) they could blow a whistle, and throw a flag. I’m thinking the penalties should involve time, as in if one of you say something that is patently untrue, your opponent gets a free minute to harangue you any way he wishes. Unless of course, he too trots out some falsehood during the penalty time, in which case they’ll be ruled “offsetting” and we’ll play the question over.

I don’t want it to be all about our snap judgments. Your campaign managers will each get red challenge flags to throw if they disagree with the call, and we can go to the videotape to review exactly what was said. After that, however, the ruling of the chief umpire will be official.

And fair warning here: If one campaigner or the other commits too many fouls, he can be ejected from the debate, and the other will then get the remainder of the time.

I know it sounds novel, but give it some thought. It might be the best way to contain some of the vitriol, force more accountability, and produce an honest discussion about the issues. And after all, isn’t that what you both want?

Give me a call if you get some time. I’m busy, but around all weekend.


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