Both Obama and Hillary are appealing and impressive in televised debates. They tend to be more respectful when engaging each other directly, and both can showcase their considerable charm, intelligence, wit and command of the issues.
It would be helpful for the Democrats to get both back on television, debating the economy. My suggestion would be a series of highly substantive in-depth debates on specific topics, including, for example.
1. Innovation. Last year I watched German Chancellor Angela Merkel give a lengthy address, speaking largely without notes, on innovation at the European Patent Office in Munich. The rest of the world is really focused on this topic. It would be interesting to hear Obama and Hillary discuss and debate this issue for an hour or two.
2. The Housing/Credit/Banking crisis. It's a big, important issue. A real in-depth debate on this would give the impression that the Candidates know something about the topic, which is not obvious now.
3. Training of workers. There a lot of workers now facing a bleak future. Years ago Secretary of Labor Reich suggested mandatory training benefits for workers, funded by employers. The federal government spends large sums on worker training programs. Do they work? How would they be improved? What do employers need? What type of jobs will there be in the future?
Such debates would have several benefits, but most important, they would get people away from the highly negative issue of character flaws (not really helpful for either side) and from the endless focus on poll numbers and delegate counts, focusing instead on issues that voters in the fall are likely to care about.
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