By Jessica Roy / current.com / @CurrentJess
On Thursday night, Martha Raddatz was everything a moderator should be. She had smart, thoughtful questions and pushed to get specific answers. She was bold and personable.
Basically, she was the opposite of Jim Lehrer.
Before this year's election, Commission on Presidential Elections Executive Director Janet Brown said that the job of moderators is to "facilitate the conversation and focus their time on the candidates."
Raddatz excelled at exactly that.
Joe Biden easily wiped the floor with Paul Ryan, but it's not because he got special moderator treatment. The vice president spoke for 40 minutes and 8 seconds; the congressman spoke for 38 minutes, 29 seconds — less than a 90-second difference.
You can tell conservatives are mad about Biden's swift victory, because they're looking for a place to point their collective finger.
It's not Paul Ryan's fault for repeating the same tired talking points!
It's not that people are turned off by an ideologue suggesting bigger and better new wars to throw our soldiers at!
And it certainly can't be that Joe Biden has a compelling narrative and forceful stage presence and that he isn't afraid to call out a lie when he hears one.
It's Martha Raddatz's fault.
Here's a surefire way to spot a sore loser:
Really? You miss the guy who was so insignificant that both sides were making fun of him? Lehrer was so quiet that he was rewarded with a "wow, you were so quiet" Twitter account.
Mitt Romney came out on top at last week's debate mostly because the moderator was too polite to cut him off or question him on anything.
Yes, Raddatz cut off Paul Ryan. She also cut off Joe Biden. She stuck to the time limits. She had some new, fresh questions to ask, unlike Lehrer's tired "so how would you create jobs blah blah the economy" talking point.
She got answers.
The most frustrating part about last week's debate — OK, second-most frustrating, after Obama's zombified performance — was that Romney got away with not explaining himself. After Thursday night's debate, I don't think Romney would have gotten away with fibbing about death panels and pre-existing conditions.
It's not surprising that the right-wing media is popping a neck vein over Martha Raddatz's excellent evening. All you have to do is listen to Ryan talk about abortion to know that the GOP believes women are second-class citizens. (An image of a bean with a heartbeat made you decide I have no right to my own body? Great.)
Actually, all you had to do was listen to anyone talk about abortion at all. That issue has been notably absent from the campaign sphere on both sides. It took a woman to bring up women's issues.
The best part of Raddatz's overall performance as moderator was that she challenged both debaters on the issues the public has with their campaigns: She forced Ryan to be more specific about his proposed ideas, and she forced Biden to clarify a lot of things we haven't heard Obama talk about.
On a larger scale, it was both refreshing to see a lady moderator and horrifying to find out how rare that is.
For 300 years, our laws have catered almost exclusively to straight, old, white men. Can't we agree that they've talked enough? Having a straight, white woman moderate a debate should not be rare or groundbreaking. Put a transgender South American bisexual refugee up there and we'll talk.
Pundits on both sides like to talk about how the economy is the national equalizer of issues. What's good for the economy is good for women, and LGBT people, and people of color, so they shouldn't complain when their "special interests" get ignored or steamrollered, they claim. We need moderators from those communities to give a voice to people who aren't overrepresented by members of politics and the media. Because if they don't speak up on their own behalf, it's pretty clear no one else will.
Raddatz did an exemplary job as moderator, and not just because she's a woman. She's a smart, inquisitive journalist — who is also a woman.
It's borderline appalling that we're letting fossils like Lehrer dominate our political debates instead of bringing more people like Raddatz in to energize them. "Special interests" are still the interests of the American people.