Mock Debate

The New Republic

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JUNE 11, 2007

Mock Debate

Occasionally, the presidential primary debates serve as a forum for substantive exchanges on important issues. Most of the time, however, they feature rants and raves from the talented and crazy alike. Take this clip, for example, from the first Democratic debate, in which former Alaska Senator Mike Gravel harangues the top-tier candidates (and Joe Biden) about pre-emptive nuclear strikes:

The key to winning the "debates" is not to present nuanced or reasonable arguments about policy. It's about getting in the best soundbite. The defining moment of last month's Republican debate, for instance, was when Rudy Giuliani pounced on Ron Paul's criticism of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East by reminding the audience that he's president of 9/11:

Similarly, in last month's Democratic debate, Barack Obama failed to win points on many pundits' scorecards with his answer to a question about how he would respond to a terrorist attack, while Hillary Clinton scored big. But neither response reveals anything about how they would actually act as president:

In one of the more inane moments, Mitt Romney calls to "double Guantánamo," which sounds more like a Starbucks order than an actual government policy:

In the great tradition of the Lincon-Douglas debates, Mike Huckabee taunts John Edwards's haircut, in response to a question about the Alternative Minimum Tax:

CNN's Wolf Blitzer asks Giuliani to respond to a Catholic bishop who declared the candidate's position on abortion to be just like that time Jesus got crucified. Giuliani tries to respond, but the mike only emits a zapping sound. Obviously it's a sign from God:

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posted in: u.s., alaska, barack obama, hillary clinton, joe biden, mike gravel, ron paul, rudy giuliani, middle east

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