Deconstructing Debates

Listen to this 'Talk of the Nation' topic

In the latest issue of The Atlantic, James Fallows, a national correspondent for the magazine, deconstructs the 47 primary debates from this campaign. (That's right, there were — count 'em — 47 debates.)

"Recently I did what no sane person would," he writes. "I watched the entire set of presidential primary debates, in sequence, like a boxed set of a TV show."

Fallows, who is based in Beijing, has agreed to join us from our bureau there to talk about how the presumptive nominees for president performed, and how a debate between the two of them might go.

(For extra credit, read this brilliant Fallows article, "When John Meets George.")

In the online version of his article, he includes a few highlights.

Barack Obama v. Alan Keyes:

And Sen. Hillary Clinton, responding to a question about drivers licenses and illegal immigrants:

We found this clip, of Sen. John McCain, talking about federal spending:

Looking back on those 47 debates, is there a moment that stands out to you? What do you think your candidate has to do in the three official presidential debates?



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Best debate moment this season --

early in the primary season, shortly after Rudy Guiliani expressed his views on abortion, lightning struck and the power flickered.

Sent by Jacqueline | 2:58 PM | 8-13-2008

When listening to your program regarding presidential debates I found it very dis heartening to hear the commentator refer to Barack Obama's debate with Alan Keyes saying that was the last time we heard Barack Obama saying he was proud of his pastor. I do not believe he said he was proud of his pastor. He said he had a pastor. I am sure he probably was proud of his pastor before he did what he did. Nothing wrong with that. But the word proud was put in there to make a political point we are all so sick of hearing. I listen to NPR to get away from this kind of partisan, sensationalism, borderline tabloid news from the cable Media. It is so utterly sufficating. I think you people in the media do not even realize. Please do your job and report the facts correctly and quit trying to sensationalize. I think you owe that to Americans.

Sent by Rani McBride | 4:26 PM | 8-13-2008