Letter to the Editor


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To the editor:

debate a contention by words or arguments: as a: formal discussion of a motion before a deliberative body according the rules of parliamentary procedure b: a regulated discussion of a proposition between two matched sides (Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary)

The above is the Webster's definition of the word "debate." As one who attend the AARP candidate debate-forum Sept. 21 in Cape Girardeau, I think what I saw and heard meets this definition. Michael H. Maguire's letter to your paper calling for debates seems to miss the fact that one debate already occurred, and several more have been scheduled. Each of these allows questions from the audience that are screened by the debate sponsors and then answered by each candidate.

This truly allows for formal discussion to occur on issues that are of interest to the public. And, in fact, it follows the general format used in the Lincoln-Douglas debates, although those forums lasted for hours at a time.

There is a time to debate debates, and now that time has passed. Debates-forums have been scheduled, and I for one believe the differences among the three candidates for Congress are becoming more clear each day.

The contention that Tony Heckemeyer and John Hendricks are ready to debate and Jo Ann Emerson is avoiding debates is ludicrous. The facts dispute this rhetoric. If Mr. Maguire would keep up with the news, he would know that Mrs. Emerson debated her opponents five times in 1996 and is planning to debate her opponents five or six times in 1998.

Further, in a debate the incumbent understands that he or she must take responsibility for the information he or she presents. One might even argue that because the incumbent is committed to working on these issues every day that they are held to a higher degree of accuracy. The challenger, on the other hand, can make accusations and nuances, often floating simplistic solutions to complex issues, without full knowledge of the issues and with no accountability for the accuracy of the statements. If anything, that just causes greater distraction from the real issues.

As afar as the headline on the letter, "A call for debates in the 8th District," that call has been answered. U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson has responded in an honest and professional manner.

MARY C. KASTEN, State Representative

158th District

Cape Girardeau