One of the moderators was John Harwood of CNBC and the NY Times. On a post-debate discussion on PBS, he had this to say about Rick Perry's brain freeze::
" Well, first of all, I was happy because for most of the debate, the candidates had made a very determined strategic decision not to engage with one another. And when you have a debate, you’re hoping to provide something interesting for the audience and we thought we had some good questions for these guys, but they were not engaging with one another. They were giving their typical answers. Some of it was interesting on a policy level, but for viewership, not so sure."I would have thought that the whole purpose of a debate was to let candidates set out their policy prescriptions, so that viewers (i.e. voters) could determine whose policies they preferred, and vote accordingly. But for Mr. Harwood and his ilk in the press, presentation of policy is damned with faint praise: it does not seem to be the point of such events. He wanted to provide viewers with the entertainment of watching the candidates argue, and if they didn't, that viewers have at least some other form of entertainment. He finished his remarks by saying:
"I’d never seen anything like that in a debate. I guess none of us have. And – and you know, you knew immediately you at least had something that viewers would remember from it."Huh? Does that mean that his expectation was that viewers would not remember the policies presented by the candidates? And if so, what did he think the purpose of the debate was? Well - I'm asking a rhetorical question here - apparently in Mr. Harwood's mind the purpose was entertainment either from conflict ("they weren't engaging with one another") or from candidates' errors in presentation ("something that viewers would remember").
But serious consideration of policies that might be guiding the country in the next administration? Not so much.