I may be naive or “elitist” or some wonderful mixture of both, but I have a dream that one day U.S. politicians, especially ones running for president, will engage each other or perhaps other great thinkers in a number of real debates, each focused on a specific topic.
I draw inspiration for this dream from the following debate between prime minister Tony Blair and Christopher Hitchens:
The balls that Tony Blair, a head of state, has to go into a debate against Christopher Hitchens on the topic that the latter is a world renowned expert on are enormous. Why do we not see such debates between presidential candidates and other representative scholars such as Hitchens?
The answer is probably that our presidential candidates, even ones that can hold their own in such a debate (few though they might be), see little benefit in it, but see a huge potential cost if a damaging sound bite can be extracted from it. The culprit here is the 24-hour “news” media channels that have made the game of politics into a game show.
Sarah Palin can win a game show, but certainly not a debate against Christopher Hitchens.
A candidate that can argue intelligently for 2 hours about a topic that they care about deeply is a leader our nation desperately needs, to look up to, to learn from, to follow.