Clinton Proposes New Debate Format

The Clinton campaign is taking the initiative to create a better forum for discussion of the issues. The proposed debate formate would be similar to the famous Lincoln Douglas debates and fairly similar to collegiate debate format:

Senator Clinton and Senator Obama will participate in a 90-minute debate in an open public forum. Just the two of them — no questioners, no panelists, no video clips. One candidate would speak for two minutes, then the other, alternating back and forth all the way through the debate. Their discussion – not any pre-set rules – would determine how long they spend on one subject before moving on to another. Such a debate would range across all of the challenges, large and small, we face as a nation or it could focus on the most significant issue we face today, — the economy.

Great idea right?Jonathan Singer from Mydd doesn’t think so

However, these “Lincoln-Douglas Style Debates”, as the Clinton campaign calls them, would not diverge so much from the modern trend of sound-bite driven campaigning or hew closely to the true nature of the Lincoln-Douglas debates. No, instead of allowing each candidate to speak in a measured, thoughtful and clear manner, laying out his or her case and responding to the other candidate’s case, the debates proposed by the Clinton campaign would just be more in a series of made-for-television, “Crossfire”-like quasi-debates that show less about the quality of a candidate’s thoughts and beliefs than they do about the candidate’s ability to come up with a biting sound-bite or a funny joke.

There’s two issues involved here:

1. The effectiveness of the proposed debate format
2. The politics behind having more debates.

On the first issues;

Considering the fact that everyone complains about the horrible format of political debates and/or the vacuous guidance from moderators we should applaud the Clinton campaign for at least proposing a new format. It may not be perfect, but where’s the alternative from the Obama campaign who always claims it wants to sit down and talk about the issues?

But politics aside, its about damn time a major presidential candidate proposed a new format for a debate. No offense,but your criticisms against Clinton’s proposed debate format are pretty damn insignificant. The time limits are too short is hardly a deathblow to the proposed debate format. If the two campaigns are truly interested in having a discussion about the issues, a claim both candidates have made repeatedly, then they can agree to specific speaking times.

The anwser to the political aspect of whether to debate or not is simple. If Obama really wants to have a debate about the issues, a claim he’s made numerous times, then this is a perfect non media driven forum for the candidates to actually have a genuine conversation.

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One thought on “Clinton Proposes New Debate Format

  1. I agree with the Chairman on this one. Singer’s criticisms are misguided at best. The current debate system allows each candidate to rephrase and restate their vague yet semi-descriptive plans about how to fix this country, while interjecting their catch phrases and quips that they have prepared for the debate. In an open style like Clinton proposed they would still have time to collect their ideas while the other candidate spoke, but an uninterrupted hour and a half debate would be more likely to force the candidates to really use their wits rather than citing a bunch of rehearsed material. Now the first part of the debate might be the TV bites that we’re used to, but that crap wouldn’t be able to last them the entire debate. An hour and a half LD debate would be an endurance test of the candidates true ability to debate the issues. In the end they will actually have to show some conviction and take a step outside their speech writers because the people will see right through it and see this as a weakness. The current debates allow commercial breaks and host interjection which basically turns it into a sparring match. Well I say its time to take off the kid gloves and put those two in the Octagon. The TV bites will let them circle each other for a while but when there’s no interruptions, one of them will eventually have to take the first punch and then it’s on.

    instead of allowing each candidate to speak in a measured, thoughtful and clear manner, laying out his or her case and responding to the other candidate’s case, the debates proposed by the Clinton campaign would just be more in a series of made-for-television, “Crossfire”-like quasi-debates that show less about the quality of a candidate’s thoughts and beliefs than they do about the candidate’s ability to come up with a biting sound-bite or a funny joke.

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