In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Oct. 7, 2008 / 8 Tishrei 5769

How to judge a political debate

By Paul Greenberg

Printer Friendly Version
Email this article

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | When is a debate not a debate? When it's televised, media-umpired, poll-monitored, spun to death and endlessly second-guessed. Then it's less a debate than a spectator sport.

The rules of formal debate, with its scorecard of categories to judge, don't apply. This is a combination quiz show, beauty pageant and sparring match in which talking points are repeated as if they were actual thoughts.

The whole country looks on, waiting for the clouds of rhetoric to part and give us, as they inevitably and unfortunately say, A Defining Moment. It's got to be there somewhere, we tell ourselves, like a needle in a cliche stack.

The winner is the debater who breaks through all the hokum long enough to give the proceedings a touch of reality. And puts a human face on politics. Which is no small challenge. How best meet it? By recognizing that political debate is a branch of drama, of theater, of showbiz. As the great modern presidents — one thinks of Franklin Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan — well understood.

Having suffered through more hours of political debate than is good for either mind or body, or soul, I take the great liberty of offering five simple — maybe too simple — tips to any aspiring political debater:

1. Be happy to be there, be honored to be there. Think of it as an outing. Take control from the first. ("Nice to meet you. ... Hey, can I call you Joe?") The winner approaches a debate not as something to be endured but enjoyed. The loser looks at his watch and just wants it to be over.

2. Know thyself. (Yes, I know that's not an original rule.) And be true to it. Be clear and direct. It's the rote pretense and empty garble-and-gabble of politics that drives so many of us to tune out. Pauses help. They clear the mind of the speaker and focus the attention of the listeners. When your opponent tries to give you the runaround, don't let him. Pin him down. For example, if you happen to find yourself up against somebody who voted to go to war but now says he wasn't really for it, kindly ask for an explanation. ("You're one who says, as so many politicians do, I was for it before I was against it or vice-versa. Americans are craving that straight talk and just want to know, hey, if you voted for it, tell us why you voted for it — and it was a war resolution.")

3. Be unrehearsed even if you have to rehearse it. If that sounds like Zen, it is. Speak plain. Don't be afraid to say what you're thinking. ("It's so obvious that I'm a Washington outsider and I'm someone who's just not used to the way you guys operate.")

4. Don't think you have to answer the question. Rise above it. The way a question is framed can put you in a defensive crouch. Don't play that game. Direct your answers to the voters; they're the ones you're accountable to — not the moderator and certainly not your opponent. ("I may not answer the questions that either the moderator or you want to hear, but I'm going to talk straight to the American people....")

5. Talk to the future, to the next generation. Your greater object isn't to win the debate, or even the election. There will be other debates, other elections. A great debate is about winning the future. A great debater doesn't argue facts; we have fact-checkers for that. A great debater argues great ideas. See Lincoln, A., and his debates across the Illinois prairie with the senator who was supposed to be the greatest orator in the country. Does anyone remember anything Stephen A. Douglas said on those occasions? Can anyone forget that a house divided against itself cannot stand? Mr. Lincoln, let it be noted, lost that election to the U.S. Senate; he won only the future.

One can judge a political debate in any number of ways. A hair-splitting rhetorician can walk away from a debate convinced he won every exchange when he's actually lost the whole debate. Judging by these five rules, there's no doubt in my mind who won the vice presidential debate. Nor about which which candidate the American people tuned in to hear, and which one caught and held our attention. You betcha.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor Paul Greenberg, editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, has won the Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing. Send your comments by clicking here.

Paul Greenberg Archives

© 2006 Tribune Media Services, Inc.