by Jennifer-Anne HillOne can’t help but feel that the quality of Union debates would be much improved if the debaters spent more time talking about the issues at hand and less time talking about each other.

Ex-President James Wise began the case for the proposition by confessing that his only qualification to take part in this debate came from the two weeks he’d once spent in Florida. This reporter was rather inclined to agree. His argument, when he got down to it, revolved around America’s foreign policy. That Wise ran so far over time without managing to actually say much of anything was a truly remarkable feat. Ex-Librarian Bim Afolami opened the case for the opposition by asserting that the Republican Party was not defined by the war in Iraq, and attacked Clinton’s “over-rated” time in office.

More in this vein would have made for a fair argument, but with a long analogy comparing Wise to Clinton and the current Union committee to Bush’s Republicans, the speech degenerated into Union politics.

With the haircut of an ageing Beatle, Simon Head told the audience of his time as an economic advisor for the Democratic Party and how the current move to the Left among the Democrats bodes well for America’s future. He talked about Bush’s incompetence in Iraq, and made  snide remarks about the Bush family’s relation by blood to incompetent Civil War presidents.

Tom “The Hammer” Delay, a former Congressman, was everything that Head was not. He vigorously attacked the proposition, dismissing Head with the remark that he had only ever worked “for losers.” He called the Republicans the “Party of Freedom”, reminding the audience that it was they who passed the Civil Rights Act. He got several indignant points of information from the audience when he claimed that “in America, no American is ever denied healthcare”. Speaking to him afterwards about the debate, I was surprised to find that Delay thought the students he had met to be very polite – although he later remarked on the flames in their eyes during his points on healthcare, an odd contrast this reporter was quick to jump on. “Polite flames in their eyes,” he said with a wink, “and you can write that down.”