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03.11.2004 Press Review

EDITORIAL - The Debates: How Important?

By Accra Mail

Our lead story is suggesting that the advertised presidential debates may after all not come on. If we are proved wrong and it comes on, that's fine with us, and if it does not come on, that's nothing to cry about either.

As stated in the story, this is a convention developed by the American media, which has now become just another television drama.

The danger is that much store is normally placed on the dramatics on the tube than whatever substance a candidate may have. A glib talker may sound impressive whereas a candidate with a more measured style would come along as unimpressive.

In the end it is no more edifying than a Miss Ghana pageant! In the recent US presidential debates, because of these cosmetic considerations, the agreement between the candidates and the networks run into several hundred pages of dos and don'ts.

Even details like cutaways had to be disagreed on! No wonder that the British political establishment is frowning on the idea.

In societies with the freedom of the media, these television debates by candidates fit in the overall regimen of the freedom of expression, but are not a vital component of it.

Care must therefore be taken so as not to create the impression that television presidential debates are the pinnacle of the democratic process. They are not!

We should therefore encourage candidates to move about and see and feel the kind of underdevelopment our country is in, and perhaps, when eventually they get the highest executive office of the land, they will pursue just the right policies and programmes for national development.

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