Friday, October 03, 2008

Who Won The Debate?

I was the only woman on the Wesleyan extemporaneous debate team in college and one of the few women on the circuit during those three years.

I learned a lot from college debate. Answer the question. Stay on topic. Don't worry about what you don't know; tell them what you do. Don't make faces at your opponent. Smile. Use small gestures. Keep your hair out of your eyes. Dress nicely. Talk to the audience. Appeal to the judges. And that my team would benefit because the expectations of me, as a woman in a male "sport," would be low.

I had to cringe as I listened to some of the debate commentary last night. There was some consensus that at least Sarah Palin hadn't done anything terrible and that Joe Biden had treated her with appropriate respect. Is it really 2008 not 1975?

I'll let you decide who won. Sexual rights surely did not. The bottom line agreement on laws protecting same-sex couples but opposition to marriage equality was not unexpected, but still made me sad. Allowing that marriage should be a decision made by the faith community was better than saying that we should "tolerate" all people, but STILL, I would have liked to have heard more affirmation for LGBT persons from both sides. Senator Biden said something about his violence against women act twice and Roe v. Wade once; Governor Palin mentioned international women's rights once. I would have really liked to have heard questions and answers on AIDS, the Supreme Court, abortion, sexuality education, pay equity, parenting support, and so on.

So who won? Let me know what you think. Surely the differences could not be more stark. Make sure you are registered to vote. Make sure you have gotten an absentee ballot and vote now if you are going to be unable to on November 4th. The post play of the debate really isn't that important -- the future of the country is.


Anonymous said...

Gwen Ifill did a terrible job. She should have pressed Gov. Palin to explain how she squares an apparent pro-choice philosophy (as stated in the Couric interview) with her stated anti-abortion positions. She should have followed up when Palin seemed to endorse federal protections for same-sex couples -- does that mean a McCain administration would endorse ENDA, civil union provisions and an appeal of the Defense of Marriage Act? I would have pressed Biden on this same question. And what about sex ed -- would McCain or Obama reverse the Bush Administration's funding of abstinence-only programs? A lot of wasted opportunities last night that I hope the moderators of the next two debates will correct.

Unknown said...

Who won? I think presidential and VP debates are neither won nor lost. "Passed" or "flunked" would be better words to describe the behavior or the qualifications or the like-ability quotient or whatever characteristic you choose.
So for me, Biden passed on almost every issue. I too am discouraged at their refusal to use the word marriage with same-sex couples. Pailin flunked the like-ability test for me. She does not seem "natural." Perhaps her beauty pageant training remains too much in her consciousness.

Anonymous said...

I watched it on CNN, which streamed dial group trendlines throughout, and when the rhetoric focused on equal rights, hospital visitation and such, the focus group responded well, but they were even more approving of the "traditional definition of marriage" language. Forget the candidates -- the people haven't arrived yet, and politicians won't come around until voters do.

ogre said...

Answer the question:
Debra, Biden won. Facts, issues, presentation and humanity. Palin's success (such as it is) is that she didn't perform a complete meltdown in public (not that I expected that--she didn't when she 'debated' while running for governor either, and she's been getting prepped for over a week by the McCain campaign). But she avoided answering questions and was talking point Sarah.

Anonymous? I agree that it was awful... but it was awful because Ifill was FORBIDDEN by the terms of the debate format (demanded by the McCain campaign) to do any follow ups. Follow ups are embarrassing to someone whose entire scheme for the debate is to only talk about what she's ready to talk about.

Bottom line? What saved her was that she's got experience as a sportscaster and has some idea of how to look good on TV. But her grade for appearance/presentation was harmed by obviously leaning on notecards and being utterly unplugged from the honest human emotion moment of Biden talking about his family tragedy. At that moment, "mom" absolutely needed to respond appropriately and empathize. As for content? A "D" grade. Overall? A D+

Anonymous said...

Here are some free association thoughts after viewing last nights debate...Joe Biden is: honest,knows the issues, spoke to the issues, did not divert the issue questions, has known and recovered from serious personal losses, articulate, ready to become the next President of the US if he had too, will defend a woman's right to choose, will move universal health care forward, will keep taxes reasonable for the middle class (those making under $250,000 a year) will negotiate with our enemies first before going to WAR, will sacrifice one of his only two sons to a WAR that has gone on too long, has the experience to lead us, etc. etc. etc. for Gov. Palin...honest..not so sure..ready to lead the US as president fo the US....not so sure...cute, soccer MOM,will set back woman's rights 50 years...avoided issues where she had no knowledge...Goverened the State of Alaska seems so...ready to support 4 more years of BUSH/CHENEY policies.for care for all..never..etc. etc. etc. ..God help us all if she makes it to the white house....