Will Karl Rove use High School Debate Moves on John Edwards?


According to The Buffalo News, John Edwards and Karl Rove are slated to debate at the University of Buffalo on September 26. And while much has been said about Edwards' ability as a trial lawyer and the millions he's racked up, not enough has been said about Karl Rove's skill as a high school debater. Here's journalist Wayne Slater in a PBS interview on one of Rove's tactics, used to intimidate 9th grade competition.

"Karl Rove was not only the best debater in Olympus High School, but also one of the best debaters in Utah when he was in high school. He went to a lot of competitions with other schools. One of the things he was good at was talking off the cuff and developing enormously skilled responses to the other guys, something we see even these days. The other thing he understood, though, was you intimidate the person from the beginning. What can you do to scare your opponent before the debate even comes across? Now, in those days, what students did was bring in a shoebox or a small box full of debate cards, and these were cards that basically said what your position was so that you would refer to those during the course of the debate. The other side would have a box. So he'd bring in two. The other side might have two. And over time, he'd bring in four. Ultimately he and his colleague would bring in on a dolly, on a hand cart, a giant box of thousands and thousands of debate cards as if to scare and intimidate the other side, thinking, my gosh, this is a debater of enormous reputation, a debater who is obviously well prepared and better prepared than I am. Rove would put these boxes in front of him on the desk and then start out on the debate. Well, [what] nobody knew until years later was that almost all of these cards were blank. It was a show of intimidation, and Rove usually won."

I really hope he recycles the strategy, and shows up to the event Imelda Marcos-style. Of course, the other story I just find hilarious is Rove's high school campaign to become President of his Student Senate. Whether you like Rove or not, you have to admit the gimmick was genius. It's the 4th question Slater answers here and definitely worth reading.