In high school I was a member of the National Forensics League (the only NFL that matters to kids who suck at sports and have bumper stickers with slogans like: "Subvert the dominant paradigm!"). I competitively debated all the way through college with some degree of success.
Like many of my fellow master debaters (beat you to it), watching campaign "debates" always makes me cringe. The rules are set up in such a way to guarantee that most of what's said, by both sides, is blowhard posturing. In those minute response times you can hardly expect any nuance and if by some miracle anyone is specific they don't have the time to back up their plan.
"If elected I'll guarantee health care to all Americans under age five with expansion of Medicaid to close the gap between needs and affordability. How? When? Out of time, next question."
"I'll bolster defense spending to ensure that Americans never have to fear another Sept. 11. Why will more money there work better than increased funding to the State Department? Great question but I believe we've moved on to gay marriage."
One of these days my dream of seeing a well-structured debate inspired by the rules of high school Lincoln-Douglas competition will come to fruition. Each side will be given seven minutes or so to construct their case for election, followed by two or three minute grilling sessions from the other candidate on the specifics, then ten minutes to respond to everything that's been said and three minutes to wrap it up.
Would it be so bad if we actually learned something about our candidates during these things?
That said, this is what we get, and with less than two months until we vote, it's time for a little head to head. On with the "debating."