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Eric Schmeltzer Headshot

A Hat Tip for Lehrer

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I know, I know. Everyone is worked up about which candidate won the debate. But, let me take a moment to praise the absolutely wonderful job Jim Lehrer did moderating this thing.

Lehrer did everything he promised - he set the stage with a top question, and got the hell out of the way. No lame questions, no gotchas, no debating the candidates. And, the result was that America was treated to a debate on substance.

During this campaign, so far, every moderator has tried to make themselves the story, the star. To them, the more they talked, the more 'innovative' questions they asked, the more they'd be praised for pushing candidates away from talking points and into spontaneous thought. Well, sure. We got candidates talking frankly about things like flag pins, and other useless drivel. Past moderators figured if they didn't challenge candidates' claims, they'd go unchallenged. So, a candidate got no more than two words out before a moderator would break in, "But Senator, you said..."

Lehrer realized the old adage is true - "Less is More."

By staying out of the way and letting the candidates go at it, they answered the charges the other one hurled, and while the candidates surely used some talking points, Americans who haven't watched CNN or MSNBC 24-7 got to learn a lot more about where the candidates stand on some of the biggest issues of our time.

It was - by far - the best debate of the season, and Jim Lehrer played a huge part in making it so. So, while the candidates spin away and proclaim themselves the winner, let me take this opportunity to point out tonight's huge winner - the guy who showed the rest of the media how to run a debate.