The debate over debating, or not

The most interesting aspect of this year’s elections seems to be the debate over debate, or lack of debate, between Sen. Daniel Akaka and Rep. Ed Case. I’m really of two minds over this debate issue. Akaka does come off as a hypocrite talking about and having others talk about his “courage” in standing up to Bush while at the same time coming up with really lame excuses as to why he won’t debate Case, but what does the public really learn by that format? How important is the ability to debate on the senate floor? Do senators actively engage in extemporaneous debate at all any more, like this still do in Great Britain. In the US, its more like a carefully scripted play, with only the ending in doubt, and sometimes not even that much drama. I’m not a big CSPAN watcher, but all I see is senators reading off of meticulously composed statements. If Case did clean Akaka’s clock in a F2F debate, does it really mean he would be more effective there? He’d like to have us think so, and maybe he would, but a debate hardly seems to be the great litmus test. Still better entertainment value than their campaign ads. Unfortunately the agreed-to “debate” is hardly a debate. Moderated and no chance for the participants to ask each other questions. I wish Elisa Yadao (Akaka’s mouthpiece) would stop saying that the Senator has accepted a debate. He has not. it’s a Q & A. Perhaps Case should challenge Elisa; it would probably be far more interesting and energetic.

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