Anybody who’s ever been on a high school or collegiate debate team (and I’ve been on both) knows that what Tom Barrett and Scott Walker are doing on TV isn’t really debating. It’s more like a joint appearance with some questions from a trio of newsies.
My wife and I watched a bit of the “debate” Friday night – enough for me to know that if Scott Walker becomes our next governor, it won’t be because of his speaking skills. He doesn’t think quickly on his feet and if you were scoring along at home, he didn’t win many points. The State Journal called Friday night’s event “feisty”, and I won’t quibble with that description.
There was some pretty good back-and-forth, most of it initiated by Barrett, who really did try to engage Walker, but the format the Broadcasters’ Foundation uses doesn’t really lend itself to verbal volleying by the candidates. The format sometimes used by the League of Women Voters is a bit more conducive to generating some real give-and-take between the candidates in the Presidential “debates.”
Walker tried pretty hard to tie Barrett to Jim Doyle, whose approval rating is abysmal, and Barrett used the tried-and-true “Scott, Jim Doyle isn’t running in this election” tactic. The discussion about that stupid slow-speed (58 mph) train between Milwaukee and Madison did nothing to further illuminate the issue.
The wind of change is blowing pretty strong this political season, and while I don’t think either of the two is an outstanding candidate, I wouldn’t be surprised at a Walker victory in November. People are pretty fed up with the way things are now.
If Walker wins, it won’t be because he was the better “debater.”