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Friday, July 31, 2015

Why not a Lincoln-Douglas-level debate?

The Republican National Committee will hold the first Republican presidential debate in Cleveland next week on Fox News with Bret Baier, Megyn Kelly and Chris Wallace as moderators. That's not a debate, that's a quiz show. Remember "debate" of the past?
By a show of hands, how many of you believe in global warming?
Coke or Pepsi?
These are game shows, not serious debates.get rid of the moderators and have Brian Lamb come out. Introduce the candidates and then have them proceed to debate one topic. That's how Lincoln and Douglas did it in 1858. Everyone whines about not having them.

Let's have them.

First, there were seven Lincoln-Douglas debates in even Illinois towns from August 15, 1858, to October 25, 1858, ahead of the general election for U.S. Senate. The issue was slavery. These were formal but not always polite affairs that lasted three hours. The audiences hooted and hollered at various points in the debate.

These were courtroom arguments as both men had been circuit lawyers traveling from town to town dispensing justice. Their format worked like a prosecutor and defense lawyer making their closing arguments.The first speaker spoke for an hour, the opposition spoke for 90 minutes, and then the first speaker spoke again for 30 minutes.

This was a verbal boxing match with Douglas portraying Lincoln as a wild-eye radical who believed in racial equality. Lincoln portray Douglas as a nutball who wanted slavery spread throughout the United States; once it had, as slavery was legal in all 13 colonies.

By 1858, Lincoln was an established lawyer who handled cases for railroads, having been the trial lawyer for the Rock Island Railroad case which set the precedent that if you crash your steamboat into a railroad bridge, you not the railroad company are to blame. Incredibly, we have rolled it back somewhat as trial lawyers play the commas and semi-colons to empty every penny and even the lint from the deep pockets of corporate America.

But I digress. Let the 10 candidates in the first tier and the second tier debate one question: What should we do about illegal immigration?

Then let each speak for five minutes until the last candidate, who gets to speak for 10, and then have the rest respond for five minutes each.

That would take 100 minutes. Throw in intros and commercial breaks and you have two hours of television, and better insights into how these candidates would do in the general election and how each would govern.


  1. What we have now are joint press conferences. Today's candidates are afraid of real debates.

  2. Perhaps we could pool campaign contributions to offer cash incentives: the winner of these types of debates gets $100,000 donated to his campaign. Of course, the winner gets more than that. He gets to impress voters.

  3. I think we all agree these shows are not debates. Why do we even have them? And why do so many INSIST we have them?

  4. How about this - some of the candidates (I'm thinking Carly, Walker, Cruz, maybe more) set up their own debates on streaming video over the internet. Maybe call them the "Undebates". Get somebody like Glenn Reynolds to moderate and send them out over the PJTV stream. No holds barred, straightforward debates moderated by someone other than a liberal clown. I'd bet that something like this would go over like beer at a July ballgame, and provide a hugely refreshing change from the current version. If they played it right, some of the candidates could get a great deal of visibility and short-circuit around the MSM stranglehold on the debates.

  5. March Madness. All candidates are paired off for one-on-one debates. 20 minutes up, 30 minutes counter, 10 minutes redirect. The winners go on to the next tier up through quarter-finals, semi-finals until Cruz and Fiorino meet for the final. (They're the best debaters) The requirement to participate is agreeing to drop out if beaten so the winner is the candidate.

    I have no particular faith in the primary system. So few people show up to vote in primaries it is unrepresentative of the population.

  6. I don't think any of the current crop of clowns could stay on topic for five minutes, let alone counter an argument. The Chamber of Communists endorsed gaggle of goofs are bottom of the barrel.