27 September 2008
So who won the first presidential debate?
Who won the first presidential debate held last night? The Guardian and Independent both called it a draw, whilst the BBC had McCain narowly ahead on points. Toby Harnden in the Daily Telegraph said that Obama emerged slightly in front, but Gerald Warner in the same paper said that McCain came out looking the victor. It really came down to perception, and that is usually based on where the writer's sympathy's lay in the first place.
American presidential debates are invariably tedious to a British viewer since neither man is really interested in trying to grind his opponent into the dust. The carefully rehearsed aim is to rally their supporters and try to influence as many of the undecided voters as possible. A more free-flowing debate, with supporters of both candidates making up the audience and shouting, cheering and jeering along as the debate unfolded would make for a better event, but there would then be the possibility of one debater actually being seen to lose by his own supporters. That cannot be allowed to happen with the result that we have to watch these sterile events which actually degrade the whole concept of political debate.