I stumbled across this piece of history while channel surfing the other night, stopped and was entertained by what I thought was a Saturday Night Live skit. Only it turned out to be the actual 1992 presidential debate, the last time it was hosted by a woman, in this case: Carole Simpson, then of ABC News.
It was a better debate than I remember, although the town hall format isn’t that great when it’s filled with “average citizens” who are too respectful to demand actual answers from candidates.
That “respectful” nature of the audience is pretty much what’s behind today’s controversy with Candy Crowley, the first woman since Simpson to “moderate” a presidential debate. The two candidates want to preserve the “just hold the microphone and look pretty” role they’ve assigned Crowley, knowing that the audience won’t press them for actual answers.
Simpson has seen this stuff before. She told MSNBC, basically, that it’s a sad commentary that the one role the Debate Commission had for a woman moderator is the one role that minimized her importance in the process.
The two people on the panel above neglected to point out, though, that the chair of the Presidential Debate Commission is a woman, the same woman who refused to meet with those school kids a few months ago who were presenting a petition calling for a woman to be named moderator of a presidential debate.
With any luck at all, someone in the audience will ask the candidates this question: Why are you two so afraid of women with questions?