I'm going to make a bold prediction here; that tomorrow night will be the last time we see the Town Hall format used in a presidential debate.
George Will correctly states that debates have become a "quasi-constitutional" electoral requirement. As well they should be. But NOT this Town Hall format. It's a recipe for disaster, and we are likely to witness this tomorrow night.
The Gallup Organization will select supposedly "undecided" voters to ask questions of Romney and Obama. After months of intense political coverage, when the two candidates have posed radically divergent views on how they would govern, anyone who is still, at this late time, "undecided," is, at best, disinterested in the political process, or, at worst, an idiot. So why should we grant people like this access to our nation's greatest democratic forum?
And of course, this begs the question: Are these even "genuine, authentic," idiots? Not a plant, an "agent-provacateur" among them? As just one example, there are dozens of instances these last few years where both the MSM and Democrat staffers have given credentials to Code Pink members, allowing them to infiltrate, and then disrupt both GOP conventions AND congressional hearings? Think they won't try again. Remember poor, sweet, innocent Sandra Fluke? Is there another like her posing naively as a poor, needy person? It only takes a few seconds to frame an issue, an impression, that will be seen by millions. Yes, the information about that person will come out, but the truth can never catch up to the lie. That's why newspapers bury their "corrections and retractions" in very small print, and usually in the comics.
But let's go further. Let's posit that there are indeed some genuinely addled, undecided voters at this stage, and that Gallup has correctly managed to identify them, and they will pose their questions. In this highly polarized environment, half the viewers will deduce/assume that the questioner has a bias. Let's take the most obvious example. There will, as there should be, a diverse group of questioners. Some will be black. Since 95% of blacks voted for Obama, how can we assume that person is undecided? We can't and we won't.
And in this age, where information about each of us is readily and instantly available, the collective blogosphere will be researching each questioner in real time. Find their Facebook page, Twitter account,search the data base..voter registration, criminal record, address, employer, phone number, email...each will be vetted. And posted everywhere for all the world to see.
Recall that after the Colorado movie theater shooting, one really dumb reporter "matched" the suspect's name with that of a Tea Party organizer, and immediately posted it. It's gospel that tomorrow, while someone is asking their question, one, ten, or a hundred people who know ( or not,) that person, or think they do, will Tweet multiple disparaging, negative comments.
Let's take another scenario. Suppose tomorrow night, someone asks Obama a really good, tough question. ( say about Benghazi, or maybe partial-birth abortion) Obama stumbles badly on the answer. It's now really big news . Then we immediately learn that person is ****GASP**** a Mormon. Or even worse, that person has posted on Red State.
That poor soul will immediately need to enter Witness protection. Remember what happened to Anthony Weiner, how fast it all spread, how it all came out. This will be instantaneous.
So why would any normal, though-as-yet-supposedly-undecided voter willingly subject themselves to what-is-about-to-befall-them?
You can't use the excuse, nay, the canard, that they are just "careful, thoughtful, citizens", because if they were, they'd have already formed an opinion.
So watch the train wreck unfold tomorrow night. It will be the last time for the Town Hall format. Like the BCS, it's outlived it's usefulness.