Since the trio of presidential Q&As (they're not really debates at all) are privately planned and funded by the exclusive Commission on Presidential Debates, only the two apparatchiks of the Duopoly will be allowed to participate. There will be no Jill Stein, Rocky Anderson, Virgil Goode and Gary Johnson in attendance to rock the leaky ship of state. It's unlikely that the questions most people have on their minds will even be asked.
So to give you the illusion of a participatory democracy, Occupy the Debates.org has a website that does allow you to ask those questions and generally kvetch. You can take a survey about pressing issues. Find out how you can get on Mutiny Radio to rebut the buttheads. There truly are ways to cope with the blatherfests other than drinking and doping and tuning out. It cannot be merely coincidence that our friendly DEA designated this past Saturday as "Get Rid of Your Prescription Drugs Day". As Molly Ivins so wisely said, satire is a deadly weapon when used against those in power.
The League of Women Voters, you may remember, used to run the presidential debates. But that all ended during the 1988 Bush I-Dukakis race, in which those particular duopolists reached a "gentleman's agreement" to throw democracy out the window. They demanded control over the stenographers asking the questions and the height of podiums as well as a new rule making it impossible for third party candidates to share the stage. The League refused to go along and thus was born the corporate Commissariat on Presidential Debates.(CPD)
To give you an idea of how contrived Debate Theatre is, the New York Times ran a puff piece in its Sunday Review section profiling the CPD's executive director, DC socialite Janet Brown. As the candidates over-prepare for their roles in the optical illusion, Ms. Brown is concentrating solely on the optics:
Lately it’s mostly debate set diagrams, which are more like architectural renderings than anything else. They describe the sets, where the candidates are positioned, where the moderator sits, where the eight cameras are placed. They are very detailed and specific in terms of dimensions, the lighting grid and camera placement for exact coverage and clarity of the candidates..
We also get the earthshaking scoop that Janet Brown adores Marvin Hamlisch tunes (she and hubby Michael Brewer, former Harvard VP, former Wall Street executive, venture capitalist, president of the National Symphony Orchestra, knew him personally!) and eating littleneck clams and Oreo milkshakes, but not together. The Times kindly provides us with a link to the restaurant where the elites get their eats.
And that's about all we unwashed masses apparently need to know, as far as The Times is concerned. But my further research reveals that Janet Brown's Washington socialite mother was the model for a Jeffrey Archer novel. She was not only a member of Nelson Rockefeller's inner circle, she became even more fabulously wealthy marketing a product that resulted from the experimental dipping of her brittle manicured fingers into a concoction of preserved fruit. Those maligned nails ladies made famous by a snobbish attendee at a Romney Hamptons fundraiser could very well be using product invented by the ancestress of the directress of Presidential Propaganda Theatre, Inc.!
Still hoping there will be a lively discussion on the class war and the evils of free market capitalism Wednesday night, or any night? Think again. Just keep track of all the "My Name is Beavis and I'm An Energy Voter" pro-fracking/drilling ads paying for the propaganda, and you'll soon get the drift... the drift to the Far Right. The only cliff we have to fear is the the make-believe cliff where all hope teeters and tumbles down to oblivion.
** Update: The CPD is still mum on the exact terms of the contract Rombama hammered out to ensure each side looks good and remains protected from all scrutiny. A few advertisers have even decided to boycott the event in protest of its anti-democracy format.