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The US Presidential Debates
14/10/2004

Last night was the final of three US Presidential debates. I watched them all.

I usually don't write about US politics or affairs here, but I thought I would mention this about the debates: I preferred them to ours.

I liked the respectful attitude that the two candidates presented towards each other, regardless of what either of them might be doing in other parts of the campaign.

And, I liked the strict rules that allowed candidates to speak on an issue without being interrupted, followed by a chance for the opponent to rebut.

Contrast this to what we saw in Canada during our federal election this summer. The candidates were shouting over each other, sometimes four at a time. It was a mess, and not as useful as it should be. Despite any policy disagreements I might have, I must say that Stephen Harper came closest to conducting himself in a manner befitting a national leader and parliamentarian. Martin and Layton were rather annoying.

I have read other commentators say that they preferred the Canadian style because it gives the candidates a chance to challenge each other, but I disagree. I think Bush and Kerry had plenty of opportunity to challenge each other in these moderated debates, and they did so.

Where it may become complicated is in our 3- or 4-party (or even 5-party) debates. Can the same format work as well?


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