Alex Massie

And So the Debates Begin...

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As James suggests, few things are more tempting and pointless as "adjudicating" debates according to the Expectations Game. These matters may not be as zero-sum as a horse-race but it's silly - even if one does it oneself  - to view them in terms of Who Did Better than Expected? None of these fellows is a Cicero who might need to carry a penalty weight...

Should, however, you want to see how people who judge debates for a living umpire these occasions then I direct you to Election Debates where a panel of grizzled veterans* (who ought to know better but can't quite leave the game) will offer their verdicts - based, I trust, on whatever passes for actual "debating" tonight rather than awarding points for turning up and seeming marginally more human/substantial/old than you might have expected...

Meanwhile, CSPAN have done an amazing thing: their entire archive is now online and you can watch the whole of the first Nixon-Kennedy debate here. A taster follows. Note how the journalists asking the questions introduce themselves. Groovy!

*Disclosure: Some of them are friends of mine.

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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