The Debate Dogs That Didn't Bark

The debates are over. It’s worth taking a look at what they didn’t cover, which is sometimes as telling as what was said. In 2000 – as I noted in my first widely-read blog post a decade ago, and as Romney noted last night – the subject of terrorism was not even raised, although it would come to dominate Bush’s tenure in office. Some things got less play than you might expect; perhaps the single biggest surprise of last night was that nobody mentioned Benjamin Netanyahu by name, but there was plenty of discussion of Israel (if surprisingly little on the “peace process”). Others got downplayed for obvious reasons; there was discussion of Obamacare at the first debate in particular, but little direct controversy on the individual mandate, perhaps unsurprisingly given Romney’s record.


But here’s a list of the issues that didn’t get discussed at all in any of the debates, in no particular order:

1-The Federal Reserve/monetary policy/QE3/the next Fed chairman

2-The EU and the Eurozone crisis, other than the use of Greece as a cautionary tale. Indeed, Europe in general was largely ignored, in marked contrast to the Bush-Kerry debates in 2004.

3-The descent of Mexico into chaos, other than Romney’s brief discussion – cut off by Candy Crowley – of Operation Fast & Furious.

4-Same-sex marriage. The only reference to any gay-rights issue was a brief mention by Obama of repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.

5-Climate change/global warming/cap and trade

6-Racial preferences; Romney discussed affirmative action for women, but the subject didn’t otherwise come up.

7-Welfare reform and Obama’s waivers on the issue

8-The death penalty

9-Campaign finance reform

10-Guantanamo and detainee policy

11-Interrogation policy

12-Surveillance policy

13-The TSA/airport security

14-The War on Drugs

15-Sanctions on Cuba

16-U.S. relations with India

17-No Child Left Behind, although there was quite a lot of discussion of education.


18-Stem cell research

19-The growth of executive power, including Obama’s use of executive orders and “czars”

20-H-1B visas, guest worker programs and the border fence with Mexico.

21-Right-to-work and public employee collective bargaining.

22-The BP oil spill

23-Evolution (yes, I know, this is only asked during GOP debates)


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