Viewers of the New Orleans TV station and those in a few other markets around the state (and many who could only watch on the internet) were served an often-pointless, rambling discussion of issues that only barely concern Louisiana – or at least pale in comparison to the vital issues that most voters care about.
Thursday night’s showdown was the only time before the Oct. 24 primary that Sen. David Vitter agreed to join Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, state Rep. John Bel Edwards and Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle in a televised debate in which the questions were not submitted in advance. That meant this high-stakes meeting of the four major candidates had the potential for a serious, illuminating discussion about the state’s future.
Instead, what we got were a raft of pointless questions to which the candidates had too little time to respond, especially because two other minor candidates were inexplicably invited to participate. With six candidates on stage, WDSU squandered precious airtime that could have gone to one of the men who will actually become our governor next January.
For the first 10 minutes of the hour-long debate, the moderator invited the candidates to discuss Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk of court who was jailed briefly for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. In Louisiana, that’s now a moot issue. Every parish is issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Why we needed a lengthy discussion about this issue was baffling, given the debate’s severe time restraints.
Then, the moderator led the candidates into another pointless discussion, this one about gun control. Perhaps mentioning the issue was appropriate given the tragic events of the day in Oregon, but guns is an issue on which the candidates have the same position. It made no sense to waste time on that issue.
Then, the candidates spent another five or so minutes discussing whether to cut off funding for Planned Parenthood. Finally, we had an issue of some real concern to Louisiana voters – and were shown some true differences of opinion among the candidates. Edwards was the only candidate who supported allowing the organization to continue providing contraception and preventative health care services to the state’s low-income residents.
Watch the debate at the following links.