Jim Lehrer deserves no criticism for his performance as moderator of the first presidential debate. He did his job: He provided instructions to the candidates and the audience. Unfortunately, only the audience managed to comply. Both Mitt Romney and President Obama ignored the instructions and, ultimately, the American people.

Mr. Lehrer did exactly what any dignified individual would have done in this situation: He let the two truculent children posture and feign, allowing the viewers to make the call on their presidential fitness.

Unfortunately what we witnessed onstage in Denver was the clash of two eras: one a dignified, intelligent, respectful period represented by Mr. Lehrer, and the other a crass, irreverent, sardonic time represented by the two candidates. The nation deserves better, and Mr. Lehrer deserves an apology from both candidates.

Greg Boyd, Washington