What presidential debates do and do not measure

 

Those of us who grew up with debating as an essential part of our high school curriculum recognize that debates don’t measure leadership skills. They measure the ability to think quickly and speak coherently. The more prepared and articulate the speaker, with honed theatrical skills (in terms of eye contact, sincerity and, when appropriate, gestures and humor), the more likely he emerges the victor. It does not matter whether a debater presents the better argument — or, more important, has the leadership ability outside the debate forum to carry out his argument.

The situation becomes more serious in presidential debates, as reflected by polls that suggest likability and good acting, and egregious slips of the tongue, matter to voters in deciding the winner. Of course, the real litmus test of leadership has little to do with such traits and gaffes. Leadership, whether in private or public activities, includes negotiating skills, having a vision and the ability to carry it out, and other characteristics that result in a record that can be evaluated.

From Thomas DiBacco. Full article here: http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-dibacco-presidential-debates-20120923,0,7410000.story

 

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