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Debate as Debate: When Your Opponent Won’t (or Can’t) Argue

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7 Responses

  1. Nice post. As a former HS and college debater, could not agree more.

  2. Anonymous Frustrated Lawyer says:

    “In other words, this was one of those debates where the losing side wasn’t, as they say, “dancing around the issues.” This was simply a debater who did not know how to debate.”

    What happens when the audience (potential undecided voters) see this?

    Do they root for the guy who wins on the merits?

    Or do they root for other guy?

    And if the audience does root for the guy who can’t debate – what does the real debater do?

    Point out how often his opponent evades the question?

  3. I’d love to see someone publish a tally of each candidate’s logical fallacies during the debates.

  4. FedUpinVA says:

    I have never been a debater, but I am very opinionated and love listening to others postulate so that I can speak to the subject if it is a topic for which I have some knowledge.

    As for watching the Presidential debate, it was appalling to see McCain act like he did with deliberate rudeness and anger. I do believe this attitude hurt him greatly because ever since then, he has appeared even more angry and testy. He made his choice on his actions and now he will have to live with the aftermath.

    I am quite anxious for the VP debate tonight as it will be quite interesting to see Palin after having witnessed her interviews with the media will be able to do better in a debate format. Those interviews have shown me that she does not have the intellectual ability or knowledge to even be considered for VP, let alone be elected to that office. I get the distinct impression that she has gotten through life based on her looks, and because she has not cultivated a curiosity for places and events other than Alaska, she has missed many life experiences which tend to lead to furthering one’s judgment, experience, knowledge, and intellect. Her extreme ignorance has shown through in such a bad light as to have people buzzing about the debate tonight to see if she can redeem herself. Problem is that you can’t study or cram for a lifetime of domestic / international current and historical events debate.

    Even if she does manage to construct a proper sentence tonight, I believe it is too late for her to redeem herself because her level of knowledge is equal to an elementary school student and that removes any chance of qualifying for the VP/POTUS position.

  5. Howard Wasserman says:

    Of course, the media-fueled public understanding is that debating is not about substance, but about zingers to which an opponent cannot respond–not because the merits of the zinger are so strong, but because the zinger is about shutting the opponent up. Remember that most media commentators thought it was a draw or a slight McCain win, but for McCain’s nasty attitude. On a different narrative, “oh please” would have gone done with “there you go again” as a great debate point.

  6. A.J. Sutter says:

    I think Howard has the winning argument on that. But I admire breaking the post in mid-sentence before the jump. That’s a stylistic effect I don’t recall seeing before on this blog, and well-executed in this case.

  7. Also speaking as a former debater, I totally agree. Normally, presidential debates bring to mind the worst sort of debate rounds — what I termed “dueling original oratories.”

    In 2004, one of the networks actually brought on the NFL national champion in HS Lincoln-Douglas debate to give commentary on the presidential debates. He said something to the effect of “in high school debate, you have all these kids talking about issues and pretending like they can actually influence things. And in the presidential debates, you have people who can influence things, pretending that they’re talking about issues.”

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