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The Debates

12 October, 2008; 19:01 Leave a comment Go to comments

Imagine for a moment the following:

You turn on the TV on a Sunday evening, to find a political debate. In a TV studio, there are two panel tables that face each other, and another small table between them and toward the back. At the right table sit three people: John McCain, Mitch McConnell, and John Boehner. At the left table sit Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid. At the center table is Gwen Ifil, the moderator.

They are debating. They’re talking about tax policy, which happens to be the subject of this debate. Barack Obama speaks, for about a minute, then Gwen Ifil names John McCain’s name to speak next, and we hear his response. The two tables face each other, and the groups of three speak not only to each other, but to the things that the others are saying.

They go back and forth for 10 minutes, all on the subject of an equitable tax policy, particularly the burdens on students, the retired, the poor, and the unemployed. Whatever the original question was, it’s been forgotten — more important now is the particular point that the discussion has come to, and they go back and forth on that point of disagreement. Mostly, we hear from McCain and Obama, but from time to time we also hear from the congressional leaders. After about 10 minutes discussion, Gwen Ifil chimes in with another question. Not a new question, from a list of pre-approved topics. Rather, it’s more like an interview follow-up question — it’s one that she just proposed, based on the discussion, to help probe deeper. They continue on that for a while. There must be a clock, but we as the viewers aren’t keenly aware of it. 

This is what I’m watching right now — except that the people involved aren’t the ones I named above, but the equivalents in Swedish politics. The right table has the four leaders of the four governing coalition parties, and the left table has the three leaders from the main opposition. And I have to say, this is a debate.

Categories: politics, tv
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  1. 16 October, 2008; 7:42 at 7:42

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