On October 11, 2000, then-Texas Governor George W. Bush and Vice President Al Gore took their seats at a table on the stage of Wait Chapel at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, for their second presidential debate. The event was billed as a conversation. Jim Lehrer, the polished public TV anchor, was the moderator, and he took the candidates through an eclectic assortment of national issues, from gay marriage to education reform.
A 90-plus minute debate about American foreign policy and not a single question about human rights. To be clear: Iraq, Afghanistan, terrorism, and grand strategy are the major international issues facing the next president and they were rightly the focus of the debate. But surely in a 90-minute conversation about the future of U.S. foreign policy, questions of human rights and genocide prevention should merit five or ten minutes. The subjects came up in passing once or twice, but it would have been nice to hear Jim Lehrer devote at least a short segment to them.