* Zorn now thinks we should do away with debates altogether…
The televised skirmish last Wednesday between Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and his Democratic opponent, J.B. Pritzker, was so childish, so nasty, so uninformative and, overall, such a waste of an hour that it solidified my conversion to what’s likely an unpopular view:
Debates are a lousy way to evaluate candidates.
They may occasionally make for good theater, but politicians’ ability — or inability — to deliver zingers, dodge questions, pivot artfully, avoid gaffes and remember talking points in a rapid-fire rhetorical jousting match has little to do with their ability to be wise and effective elected officials.
If you wanted to hire, say, a real estate agent to sell your home, you would not invite all the prospects at once to your living room to see which one could most effectively trash the performance and honesty of the others. So why do we do essentially that when we want to hire (or rehire) a governor or any other major officeholder?