There is No Requirement for a Chief Debator in the Constitution

The 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.

He 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.

The 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

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