Warm Southern Breeze

"… there is no such thing as nothing."

Democratic Debate 11 Goes Out With A Whimper

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Monday, March 16, 2020

If, like me, you were hoping for more with the 11th Democratic debate which was to feature a 1 on 1 with Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, you were abysmally disappointed.

This Sunday’s 11th Democratic Candidate Debate featured only Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders in a 1 on 1, after every other candidate dropped out, and was nothing more than an opportunity for each candidate to rehash what they’d already said seemingly countless times earlier – on the stump, and on “debate” stages.

Previously scheduled to be held at Arizona Federal Theatre, 400 W Washington Street in Phoenix, AZ 85003, the debate was relocated and held at CNN’s Washington D.C. studios, before moderators only, with no live audience members, in order to limit possible exposure to COVID-19 coronavirus, which is now sweeping the country and world. Only 3 Moderators – Dana Bash, and Jake Tapper of CNN, and Ilia Calderon from Univision, who replaced Jorge Ramos, who had self-quarantined following possible COVID-19 exposure – were present.

The debate started out slowly, and even though there were only 2 candidates, the “rules” were just as before, that each candidate was allotted 90 seconds to respond to a question. I had hoped that there would be more interaction between the 2 candidates, and was only briefly satisfied with by their more free-wheeling interactions which Jake Tapper allowed, while the women who – in my estimation – were much more blasé, and took their now-typical approach as usually seen in previous debates, and interrupted the candidates once their 90 seconds had concluded.

Seriously. Only 90 seconds? That’s a preposterously short time to explain complex problems, or to provide a thorough response to an equally complex problem.

But, I think it was CNN and Univision which was the poorest performer, more so than either Biden, or Bernie, because at a previous CNN/Univision-sponsored debate, it too, was conducted poorly.

In fact, I would say that the entire series of debates were “moderated” or conducted very poorly by the sponsors, and their hosting moderators. Well… save for perhaps one – the 9th debate, in which sparks flew among the candidates! THAT was DEFINITELY a live one!

And to be certain, these “debates” are not debates in a classical sense, nor were they in any way any kind of “debate.” I mean, how much of a debate is it when one walks away still convinced of the way they think about any given subject matter which may have been addressed in the forum, eh? Seriously.

So, I would say, that, more than anything, the ENTIRE series was EXCLUSIVELY an opportunity for the participants to yap at each other – nothing more, and certainly nothing less.

In “classical” type debate, there are essentially 4 styles, or types of debate which are as follows:

1.) Lincoln-Douglas debate (the two debates);
2.) Rebuttal debate;
3.) One-Rebuttal type of debate, and;
4.) Oregon-Oxford debate which is sometimes called a cross-question debate.

During the original Lincoln-Douglas debates in 1858, Abraham Lincoln, a Republican of Illinois, and Stephen A. Douglas, the incumbent Democratic U.S. Senator from Illinois, faced each other before the upcoming Election when Lincoln was vying for Douglas’ Senate seat.

The two men had agreed to debate one another in the following format:
One debate in each of Illinois 9 Congressional Districts, with each debate lasting 3 hours, in which one candidate would speak for an hour (60 minutes), the opposing candidate would have a 90 minute response, with the first candidate having a 30 minute follow-up, or rejoinder.

Now, as CNN and other news reporting agencies cast it, each candidate had 90 SECONDS to respond – hardly enough time to effectively support, or dissuade an audience member.

The Rebuttal type debate is better suited for a small team type of participation, in which members are assigned Affirmative and Negative sides of an issue, or topic, which opens with the Affirmative position, while the Negative position, or rebuttal, is stated by the opposite team, and each speaker is permitted a rebuttal. The debate concludes with final rebuttal argument by the Affirmative team.

The One-Rebuttal type of debate is somewhat similar – though modified – to the Lincoln-Douglas type of debate, in which, again, team members take Affirmative and Negative positions, and ALL the team members have an opportunity to refute argument made by their opponent, with the exception of the 1st Affirmative speaker, who makes the concluding argument of the debate in rebuttal.

If it were anything, ALL of the Democratic debates style format would be closest to this, with the exception being that it has been a solitary effort, instead of a unified team v team effort.

The 4th type of debate is called an Oregon-Oxford type, again, in which Affirmative and Negative positions are taken upon a topic, and the fist speaker of the Affirmative team makes the entire case. Following the conclusion of the Affirmative argument, the 1st Negative team member may interpellate (question) the speaker of the Affirmative team. Then, the 2nd speaker of the Negative team will present the entire Negative case, who in turn will be interpellated by the 2nd or 1st Affirmative speaker, after which the 1st speaker of the Negative team delivers a rebuttal, which is finally concluded by a rebuttal from the 2nd Affirmative speaker. Think of it as an alternating “round-robin” type tournament, in which each participant has an opportunity to challenge every other participant the same number of times.

THAT could be a VERY interesting format for political participant-candidates!

A possible 5th type of debate is the classical Oxford style of debate, which more closely resembles the type of debate which is engaged in by Members of Congress – House, and Senate. The principle difference is that before the debate, audience members vote upon a topic (the motion) either For, Undecided, or Against, moderators allow audience members to ask questions, which may be challenged by discussion between the 2  sides, which is then concluded by another audience vote, which determines the winner – i.e., which side/position received the most votes.

Candidate “town halls” are not truly debates, insofar as the respondent (a candidate) simply answers a question asked by an audience member.

But again, overall, this 11th Democratic nominee candidate debate was a disappointing showing for both candidates – Biden, and Bernie.

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