Presidential Debate formats- your favorites and your own

Having read the rules prior to the debate last night, I was not expecting to much from it, and for a while it was living up to those expectations. However, once Obama and McCain started insisting on followups, despite Brokaw’s best efforts, wouldn’t you know it, we started to have an actual debate on our hands. This got me to thinking about what sort of debate I would like to see. Here is what I came up with…

My goal with such a format would be to put the candidates in a position where they are forced to engage the each other and have an actual conversation. The question’s would be, for the most part, off-the-cuff, which should hopefully force the answers off-the-stump. Given the semi-spontaneous nature of the debate, I’m aware that it would be tough, if not impossible, to get the candidates to agree to the format, but what the hell anyway; it’s just an idea, not a formal proposal.

Alot would ride on the moderator as well. I would be looking for someone who could play it fairly down the line and who would also be able to control the candidates enough that it doesn’t devolve into an episode of Hannity & Colmes.

As an even less realistic, though far more entertaining, and perhaps the most insightful format idea-* Presidential Poker*.
This would be done towards the beginning of each primary season while there are still about 8 candidates per party. It would be Texas Hold’em rules just like any of the countless other poker games on TV now. I haven’t yet worked out how to mix in policy discussions, but even if it were just regular card playing banter, I think far more could be learned about the candidates that from most of the other debates we have had.

As I have never been involved in any formal debates, I welcome any critique of my proposed format, as well as forum-placement of this OP, but I want to hear your ideas as well. What would be your ideal debate formats? What type of debates in the past have you found to be the most valuable?

Ever seen ‘The Debate’ in the last season of The West Wing? That would be awesome!!