7 Ways to Fix the Debate Time Issue

I originally posted this on October 8, 2008. Can’t believe it’s been 4 years! But with the debate tonight, thought it would be fun to revisit it and update it with a few tweaks.

If you remember the presidential debates from 4 years ago, you know that the most uncomfortable moments – other than McCain calling Obama “that one” – was Tom Brokaw’s increasing annoyance over the blatant disregard for time.

Both camps had agreed to the 2-minute and 1-minute limits on responses and rebuttals, and both candidates blew through them on every answer like a tired motorist running a stop sign at 2:00am.

Let’s face it, it’s ridiculous to expect politicians to be short winded. (1-minute rebuttals?? really??) It’s also ridiculous to expect them to play by the rules.

That’s why I think the rules need to change. Forget the green-yellow-red traffic light on the floor. We need a better system of keeping time and enforcing clock abuse. Here are my proposed solutions

7 Ways to Fix the Debate Time Issue

1. The Chess Clock: Each candidate gets 45 minutes of mic time for the entire debate. Once they are satisfied with their response to a question they slam their button and their opponent’s clock begins.

Manage your time right and you may end up with the last ten minutes of talk time while your opponent has to look on in silence.

2. The Mic Drop: As soon as their time is up on each question, cut off power to their mic. I guarantee that after being cut off mid-sentence a few times they will learn how to finish their thoughts on time.

3. The Orchestra: You know how award shows will cut off long-winded acceptance speeches with music that gets louder and louder every second? Let’s do the same thing at debates. Let’s hire an orchestra to sit next to the stage and start playing in ever-increasing volume as the candidates blow through their time limits.

And if an orchestra’s not brash enough we can find a pop star with a new album out who’s willing to help. What if every time the candidate exceeds his time Carly Rae Jepsen breaks into a song from her new album. Done and done.

4. The Dueling Mics: With this option, as soon as a candidate’s time limit is reached his opponent is allowed to talk over him into his own mic.

The possibilities are endless. The opponent could chime in with little quips and insults every few seconds (“not true”…”he’s lying”…”you suck”…) or he could just pull a Jim Carrey in Dumb and Dumber and make the most annoying noise in the world until his opponent shuts up.

5. The Donation Obligation: Here’s the idea: for every second over the allotted time for each question that the candidate speaks, he has to give $500 out of his own pocket to the political party of his opponent.

In 2008, they blabbed beyond the legal limit for an extra 30 seconds (at least) every time. Under this plan, those 30 seconds Barack went over his allotted time would mean a $15,000 donation to the Republican National Committee.

Sure Romney is filthy rich, but would he want that money going to the DNC? We’d find out.

6. The Mini Life-Sucking Machine: Remember the Life-Sucking Machine in the Pit of Despair from The Princess Bride? We need to attach a mini belt version of that to each candidate.

As soon as their time allotment has expired, they start to feel the pain from the machine as it inflicts damage to the small of their backs. The longer the candidate wants to exceed his time, the more pain he feels as his life is sucked out of him. We’ll see who has a high pain threshold and who really cares about espousing the finer details of their budget plan.

7. The Strip Tease: E ach candidate gets the same question, and the one that goes longer on their response has to remove an article of clothing.

Want to keep those pants on? Betther think twice about starting off your answer with a 3-minute rebuttal to your opponent’s comment from 15 minutes ago.

(For the sake of all of our eyes, I pray this idea is never put into practice. None of us want our ears to know Romney’s answer to the boxers or briefs question, never mind our eyes.)

Got an idea of your own to fix this issue?

Planning on watching tonight?

Let us know in the comments.