There is No Requirement for a Chief Debator in the Constitution
President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the
United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called
into the actual Service of the United States; he may require the
Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive
Departments, upon any subject relating to the Duties of their
respective Offices, and he shall have Power to Grant Reprieves and
Pardons for Offenses against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.
shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to
make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur;
and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the
Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls,
Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United
States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and
which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the
Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the
President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.
President shall have Power to fill up all Vacancies that may happen
during the Recess of the Senate, by granting Commissions which shall
expire at the End of their next Session.
When the Founders established
the role of the President of the United States, they were very specific
as to what his role would be. Article II establishes the Executive
Branch and outlines the role of it's chief executive. He is first to be
Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy and of the militia when called
to service, to preside over the various executive departments, to have
the power to grant reprieves and pardons and to conduct foreign policy.
Not a single one of those duties call for a President to be a master
debator. Yet, since the advent of television - particularly the cable
networks - debates have become a primary part of the election process,
with candidates being judged on the basis of their debating skills
rather than on their executive skills, experience and record. This has not always been so.
Prior to 1960 there had only been two presidential debates and both
were between candidates competing for the nomination within their own
party. In 1960 Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy participated in four
televised debates. Then, for another sixteen years there were no
debates. It wasn't until 1976 that presidential debates - including
vice-presidential debates - became a significant part of the polticial
process. Since that time emphasis on political debates has reached the
point of saturation, not only at the presidential level but at nearly
every level government. And the whole process is meaningless.
What is debate anyway? To put it simply, "debate" is a fancy name for
an argument. The difference is that it is presented in a formal
setting, at least its supposed to be, with specific rules to follow.
Debates are judged on the effectiveness of the participants debating
skills, which means only that they are effective or ineffective as a
debator. Debates are totally useless when determining a candidates'
true potential for governing, which is what the role of the President
of the United States actually is. A far more effective means of judging
a candidate's suitablity is to look at the record of what they have or
have not done, and how they have carried out their responsibilities.
Let's keep debating in college auditoriums where they belong, not in
the political arena.
George Will on the Political Process