Resolved: Those presidential tilts on TV aren't debates in truest sense
Published: October 5, 2012
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- With one presidential debate down and two to go -- not to mention a debate between the two major-party vice presidential candidates -- it may be time to accept the fact that what millions of Americans are watching is not a debate, at least not in the truest sense of the word. Imagine President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney verbally jousting with each other, without prompting from a moderator, and not for just 90 minutes but for two hours. And instead of fielding a volley of questions from a broad palette -- "domestic issues," "foreign issues," "the economy" -- the candidates duke it out verbally on a single, specific topic, such as job creation policies. Were Obama and Romney to follow that format, it would look more like the kind of debates engaged in by collegiate teams throughout the country. And, since debate teams on the college level each have two members, the vice presidential picks could join in. Catholic colleges and universities have been well represented in the National Debate Tournament over the past 60 years, but this year, three Jesuit schools took top spots. Georgetown University in Washington finished first overall, its first national debate championship since 1992. Losing in the national semifinals were Gonzaga University in Spokane, Wash., and Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. "I've never considered the presidential debates real debates," said Jonathan Paul, Georgetown's director of debate. "What they call a debate is a lot different from what a lot of academic institutions call a debate." Still, after multiple expressions of this quadrennial exercise, Paul added, "I'm numb. It doesn't anger me now." In fact, he even took part in an Associated Press taping of the Oct. 3 presidential debate.
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