Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Mark Udall Agrees to Some Debates, Still Unclear on the Lincoln-Douglas Concept

Give the Mark Udall campaign partial credit. The Democrat candidate has agreed to participate in a couple debates, reports the Rocky Mountain News.

Schaffer last month proposed a series of debates modeled after the 1858 debates between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas, who were campaigning for a state Senate seat in Illinois. Those debates involved one candidate speaking and the other offering rebuttal, with little if any input from moderators or an audience.

Udall objected to such a format.

"What we're looking at is debates where both of the candidates have to answer questions, not just give canned speeches," [spokeswoman Taylor] West said. [emphasis added]
Assertions, rebuttals, improvisation ... anyone who has participated in high school debate knows that the Lincoln-Douglas style has very little to do with "canned speeches." Just because the participants don't take questions from a moderator doesn't mean that there is no interactive give-and-take. Quite the opposite, in fact.

Either Taylor West is terribly ignorant or dissembling to protect Mark Udall from having to participate in the unscripted Lincoln-Douglas debate format.

So we'll keep the counter on the sidebar running for a while longer, at least until somebody in the Mark Udall campaign figures out what the Lincoln-Douglas debate style is, or can tell us why their candidate is afraid of an unscripted format.


DavidThi808 said...

Lets be fair here - the format used in the actual Lincoln Douglas debates is very different from the "Lincoln Douglas Debate Format."

In the actual debates between Lincoln & Douglas each spoke for hours uninterrupted. So it may well be that Udall (via Taylor West) is proposing the original format while Schaffer (via Dick Wadhams) is proposing the high school debate team format.

Both can claim the mantle "Lincoln/Douglas". More to the point, why are both not working out a compromise between the two formats rather than just trying to score political points?

Ben DeGrow said...

I think the essential commonality is that neither debate format has more than a very minor role for the moderator, and that they both allow for unscripted interaction and improvisation. Neither has much to do with "canned speeches" (or canned peaches, for that matter)....

DavidThi808 said...

I disagree - the speeches given by Lincoln and Douglas were very much canned speeches and while there was no moderator, there was no comments from the other during the speech either.

Very different beasts.