Magazine article The Wilson Quarterly

Debatable: On and off Limits

Magazine article The Wilson Quarterly

Debatable: On and off Limits

Article excerpt

As moderator of one of the 1988 presidential debates, Bernard Shaw of CNN got to ask a single question of each candidate. For Democrat Michael Dukakis, he chose a provocative one.

"Governor, he said, "if Kitty Dukakis were raped and murdered, would you favor an irrevocable death penalty for the killer?"

"No, I don't, Bernard," Dukakis answered, "and I think you know that I've opposed the death penalty during all of my life. I don't see any evidence that it's a deterrent, and I think there are better and more effective ways to deal with violent crime. We've done so in my own state, and it's one of the reasons why we have had the biggest drop in crime of any industrial state in America, why we have the lowest murder rate of any industrial state in America" Commentators faulted Dukakis for giving a wonkish answer to an emotionally explosive question--but some also faulted Shaw for framing the question in such personal terms. Shaw's critics included the three other journalists who questioned the candidates that night: Andrea Mitchell of NBC, Ann Compton of ABC, and Margaret Warner of Newsweek. …

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