Political Death by Television

The American Presidential debates have their roots in the famed series of seven debates in 1858 between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas for the U.S. Senate. In 1940 Wendell Willkie challenged Franklin Roosevelt to a Presidential debate but the canny FDR refused. Finally in 1960 Richard Nixon, looking like the dodgiest of second hand car salesmen, unwisely took on Pretty Boy JFK from the notorious family of Prohibition racketeers. As with most “great ideas” we transport East across the Atlantic our tawdry version has retained all the smarmy evasions without the saving grace of American razzmatazz. Dashing Nick Clegg, bereft of a single credible policy, has clearly won the hearts of British viewers who remain in complete denial of the desperate times lying ahead.

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