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Watergate, Iran-Contra, Benghazi –and the Debate Questions

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Candy Crowley is a frequent and welcome guest on my program, and an MSMer who will be fair and tough on both candidates in their second meeting.

I think she faces a very tough choice Tuesday night, one made even more obvious by Secretary of State Clinton’s “I take responsibility” statement late Monday. (Mrs. Clinton cannot take responsibility for the president’s “The Video Made Them Do It” screenplay, nor can Susan Rice be made the fall-gal for the president. He made those statements, and he made them long after he ought to have known better –and probably did.)

Crowley will have at least 90 questions from which to choose, and about a dozen will be used. (My conversation with her about the rules of the debate is here.)

If such a debate with such a format had occurred as the MSM was coming to recognize the importance of Watergate, Iran-Contra, or the Lewinsky affair, how many of the dozen questions would have been about that issue?

The issue is at the interesection of terrorism, the rise of Islamist state power in the region, and general questions about the Obama Adminsitration competence and now –with undeniable improtance– about the president’s credibility and the credibility of his inner circle. “What did the president know and when did he know it?” is usually a cliche, but not when it is made a central issue by the president’s own statements, like those made on Letterman and at the Univision forum.

So what’s a moderator to do? If the 90 questions contain 9 or 10 about Libya and various aspects of what is emerging as a cover-up, there is a very good case for allowing them all to be asked.

As they would have been if the issue was the break-in and the president was Nixon.

File:Nixon press October 1973.gif

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