MAKE SURE you tip toe around our elite establishment candidates, Ms. Crowley. They’ve agreed to certain rules, as has “the commission,” so you don’t want to go rogue and actually follow up on their canned answers, because Mr. Cool and Mr. Ice might get thrown off their game.

If this doesn’t perfectly encapsulate our elite political system nothing does. That it’s being reported by uber insider Mark Halperin is the perfect delivery system for what’s stirring behind the scenes.

While an early October memorandum of understanding between the Obama and Romney campaigns and the bipartisan commission sponsoring the debates suggests CNN’s Candy Crowley would play a limited role in the Tuesday-night session, Crowley, who is not a party to that agreement, has done a series of interviews on her network in which she has suggested she will assume a broader set of responsibilities. As Crowley put it last week, “Once the table is kind of set by the town-hall questioner, there is then time for me to say, “˜Hey, wait a second, what about X, Y, Z?'”Mark Halperin

God forbid the two men vying for the presidency have an unscripted moment in the debate.

You can understand their concern. Obama was made a fool by the format Jim Lehrer stuck to in the first debate, which was to be invisible. Lehrer took so much grief he had to do a media tour, appearing on “Morning Joe” and with Hannity of Fox News Channel, to try to resurrect his reputation. At that same debate Mitt Romney benefited from his prep work and the fact he was willing to Etch-a-Sketch Governor Mitt back on to the scene.

Now both candidates want to make sure there is nothing that might further expose either of them.

Hiding is the goal.

Does anyone believe either Gary Johnson, Jill Stein or Rocky Anderson would put up such a hissy fit if they were given the chance to appear in front of the American people? Not to worry. They might rough up the two elite fraternity club politicians and their entrenched corporate parties, so even having them appear alongside Obama and Romney is too scary to risk.

Barack Obama and Mitt Romney want to be leader of the free world, taking on all manner of challenges. Yet, they balk at taking follow-up questions from an unbiased, respected and veteran journalist like Candy Crowley.

This reveals the rot in our political system better than anything, which begins with the press’s role in what’s left of our democratic republic. The American people should care about this and see it for what it is. An effort to hide presidential candidates from full view of their plans for this country, while making sure only the elite establishment candidates are allowed to address the American public.

To date, neither Barack Obama or Mitt Romney have outlined their plans for our future. It’s been about attack ads, SUPER Pacs and character assassination on both sides, as if this game matters more than what Obama or Romney will do on the environment, are asked what our drone policy is costing this country, as well as what they’re going to do to actually bring good union wage jobs back to the middle class.

The election is becoming a sham, because the American public are being shown two candidates who are being allowed to hide behind rules and agreements that don’t serve the public’s right to know.

Candy Crowley is unfazed, which is as it should be.

Crowley seems unfazed by the behind the scenes maneuvering. Even after concerns were raised in the wake of the Malveaux interview, Crowley made additional comments that make clear she does not feel bound by any agreement between the Commission and the Obama and Romney camps. On October 11, on the day of the vice presidential candidates debate, she told Wolf Blitzer, “I’m always interested in the questions because you don’t want to ““ in a debate, you don’t want to go over plowed ground. Now, this is the vice presidential candidates as opposed to the presidential candidates. So, is there room there to come back to a presidential candidate and say, well, your vice presidential candidate said this? I’m always kind of looking for the next question”¦. So there’s opportunity for follow-up to kind of get them to drill down on the subjects that these folks want to learn about in the town hall.”

So, teams Obama and Romney have no choice but to get ready to blame the messenger, while preparing for what may come tomorrow.

Battle lines are drawn and the enemy of the candidates is Candy Crowley, representing the Fourth Estate, the only friend left of the American people in a country where most of the press has picked sides.

UPDATE: The town hall agreement has now been leaked [h/t Mediaite].

2012 Debates Memorandum of Understanding Between the Obama and Romney Campaigns