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Let’s call political debate winners by tallying the vote at ringside

Saturday Night Live should come up with a new formula that combines debating and prizefighting as a way to give viewers a definite winner and loser instead of the endless “spinning” that occurs under the traditional debate formula. Both sides now claim to be victorious.

This process would at least provide some finality to the annoying speculation that now surrounds political debates. Something like what follows would make future contests more amusing:

The venue is a boxing ring at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas. The candidates stand at podiums with the moderator/referee sitting at a desk in front of them. At the outset, he introduces the combatants.

“Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to this heavyweight prize debate scheduled for 10 rounds. Let me first introduce the combatants:

“In the corner to my left wearing a blue tie is the incumbent, the ‘Dronerator,’ Barack ‘Bam Bam’ Obama, of Washington by way of Chicago. To my left in a red tie is the challenger, the ‘Stormin Mormon,’ Mitt ‘Turnaround’ Romney, of Boston by way of Michigan and Utah.

“This will be a 10-round debate, each round being 10 minutes, at the end of which each contestant will retire to his corner where he will have one minute to be instructed and refreshed by his handlers.

“There are 5 judges, selected at random by me, sitting at ringside. They will grade the performance of each participant in each round on a scale of 1 to 10 with 1 being the lowest score and 10 the highest. Assuming neither side scores a knockout, the votes will be tabulated at the end of the bout and I will declare a winner.

“As the moderator/referee I will ask questions of both candidates and make sure the candidates remain calm and the discourse is civil.
“Should there be a verbal smackdown, I will order the party delivering the blow to return to a neutral corner until I can determine if his opponent is able to continue.

Before each round a bikini-clad woman, selected by me, will parade around the ring holding a card with the number of the round. Please refrain from hooting or hollering at either the combatants or the model.
“To defray the costs of this event, each round is being sponsored by a supporter of one side or the other. For example, the first round is sponsored by Bain Capital and the second by the United Auto Workers.

“I reserve the right to stop the debate on a TKO if I determine that one side or the other has been so badly damaged he can no longer defend himself. Also, the handlers for each may forfeit by throwing a towel into the middle of the ring, if they determine their fighter is unable to continue.

“At the end of the contest I will ask both parties to come to the center of the ring where, after the votes have been tabulated, I will declare a winner, be it a unanimous or split decision. To make the contest more exciting, the winner will be awarded 10 electoral votes.
“Refreshments and debate souvenirs are available in the foyer. I ask your cooperation in not swearing or throwing things at the combatants during the bout.

“Show your support by placing a bet on your candidate. Good luck and enjoy the spectacle!”

James W. Dolan is a retired Dorchester District Court judge who now practices law.