The huge crowd (50 million plus) that watched the Obama-Romney debate last night heard lots from the candidates, little from the moderator, Jim Lehrer, and nothing from the usual cast of supposedly impartial reporters whose strongest ambition is to ask zinger questions that will move the spotlight to them. There was no audience of partisans vying for attention.
If it was not the Lincoln-Douglas or Oxford Union debate formats, it was as close as we have come in a generation or more. It was dignified, meaty and dramatic. Each candidate got to say what he wanted and the 90 minutes never dragged.
Lehrer has been attacked for allowing both candidates to take advantage of timing, but the complaint assumes that watching the clock is more important than getting the arguments out on the table. Democracy was served.