What the moderator OUGHT to be telling the candidates:
“Let’s make it clear that you are candidates for the job of President of the United States – you want to work for us and this debate is part of the interview process. You are not celebrities – you are people looking for a job. We will treat you accordingly.
“Both camps have agreed on the rules. Questions are to be answered as posed and the answer time is two minutes. If you can’t answer the question in that much time you either are not trying or don’t know the answer. The time limit will be enforced and microphones turned off at the end of the time period on which the two campaigns already have agreed. There will be no return to previously asked-and-answered questions.
“If the question asked is not being addressed, I will interrupt you and insist that you answer the question as posed. If you refuse a second time I will turn off your microphone and move to the other candidate or the next question, as appropriate. We all have heard the talking points and reiterating them isn’t the purpose of this debate. If you want to give a stump speech, you buy the airtime.
“Our first question goes to…”
I mean, what’s the problem? Is Obama going to walk off the stage if he’s cut-off? Is McCain? They agreed to the time limit. Hold them to it, and insist they answer the questions.
It isn’t rocket science. But evidently it’s too hard for the media to grasp.