July 13, 2024
That wasn't a debate. Nor was it national. It was tokenism, and feeble at that
The issues of this vast and highly differentiated country cannot be shoehorned into a two-hour shout fest, chopped down to nuggets.
The issues of this vast and highly differentiated country cannot be shoehorned into a two-hour shout fest, chopped down to nuggets.

From the perspective of simple utility, how it assisted voters to make up their minds, Monday night’s exhibition — the so-called debate — was a waste of time. I came away from it with one dominant impression: that the only purpose such debates may claim is to provide journalists with a once-in-four-years opportunity to over- and mis-use the most stale cliché in all reporting history — the “knockout punch.”

E.g., “Mr. Singh had a good line — Mr. Deny and Mr. Delay — but it wasn’t a knockout punch.” Or, “Mr. Scheer came on really strong against Mr. Trudeau in the beginning, but it wasn’t a knockout punch.”

Why journalists are addicted to a boxing metaphor — boxing being a competition between two fighters (obviously) fighting each other — for a spectacle involving six politicians firing over-scripted talking points at each other, while displaying their powers of equivocation and evasion — is a mystery not worth the effort to solve.

Throw in the presence of five — five — moderators and what you have is a jumble of crosstalk, interruption, pre-fab bullet points offered as spontaneous eloquence, and two hours of tangled posturing. Eleven people can’t “debate” anything. As everyone tried to grasp their few seconds of camera time, it triggered the image, frequently seen on television, of Japanese commuters being jammed by guards into already over-stuffed subway cars. Furthermore, they weren’t on stage to debate — it was far more a competition to see who could rhetorically wound one or another of the competitors than an effort to deal in any way comprehensively with the major issues of the election. This tactic, elegantly summarized in Bruce Carson’s The Morning Brief as “leaders who came with pre-planned attacks or ‘drive-by smears’ ready to unload,” is actually the essence, the core dynamic, of these encounters.

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See Also:

(1) Trudeau branded a ‘fraud’ during heated election tv debate – Canadian PM’s future on brink

(2) Trudeau Faces Scheer’s Criticism During Federal Leaders’ Election Debate

(3) Bernier challenged over ‘extreme multiculturalism’ tweet during leaders’ debate

(4) Truth Tracker: Bernier’s claims that immigrants have a hard time integrating into Canadian society (This column is heavily biased but it’s from CTV. Go figure.)

(5) Jagmeet Singh accuses Maxime Bernier of inciting hatred (He hasn’t and ‘Jaggie’ is a pandering pinhead which is to be expected in the NDP.)

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