A "soft" debate that really does focus on personality would be useful. Let some smart folks sit in a room and come up with questions that will allow the candidates to go off-message in illuminating, rather than confrontational, ways. Ask Clinton about her trajectory from Goldwater Girl to Wellesley radical, ask Obama about his lessons from working at an investment bank in New York, ask both for the last fiction book they read. Let them talk about an intellectual passion that's unrelated to politics, or a beloved hobby that frees them from the tensions of the trail. Ask them about bad bosses from their past, and what management lessons they took from the experience. Ask what they'd major in in college if they could go back and do it again. I'd be interested in this sort of debate, which really could provide a glimpse into personalities that, for all their fame and visibility, remain relatively opaque. But this stuff about Ayers and Bittergate and Tuzla and flag pins is not a worthy substitute. It tells us much more about our media, and their appetite for scandal, than it does about the candidates.