Bob Schieffer, the chief Washington correspondent for CBS News and the moderator of this evening's affair, has an opportunity to force the candidates to speak to the issue on the record. If that doesn't happen, and climate change goes unmentioned, it will be the first time in nearly two decades of presidential debates that the topic has been ignored.
Monday night, the Commission On Presidential Debates wraps up the 2012 series of debates with its extra special season finale. When we last left our protagonists, President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, they were, basically, yelling at each other about a host of issues before an audience of undecided voters from whom the questions of the evening were extracted. It made for a sharp series of exchanges and an emphasis on the theatrical. The president, having decided to ditch the somnambulatory techniques he used in his first disastrous debate, showed substantially more verve in his second outing, and has been generally characterized as the winner, on points. But Romney held up decently as well, turning in a performance that conservative pundits could continue to support. Now, they meet one last time, in a debate that decides everything. We guess? Let's just go with that.
We have plenty of debate on whose budget numbers are fishy (Romney's) and on whether to bring about deficit reduction by slashing social spending to pay for even more tax cuts (Romney) or whether to have a mix or budget cuts and tax increases on the wealthy (Obama.) Of the two positions, Obama's is both the more sensible and intellectually honest. But the Democrats are mistaken when they argue that the deficit needs to be cut any time soon. With the economy weak, we certainly don't need $2 trillion in spending cuts as Obama proposes; if anything, we need more stimulus spending.