I almost didn't listen to it but glad I did. I've referred to Intelligence Squared US debates before, but this was certainly one of the more enjoyable ones. Listening to David Brooks and P.J. O'Rourke trading witticisms made it worth it, but Ariana Huffington and Zev Chafets proved to be pretty funny in their own right. The motion up for debate this time was "The Two Party System is Making America Ungovernable." Arguing on behalf of the motion were Brooks and Huffington; arguing against it were Chafets and O'Rourke.
If you recall Intelligence Squared US debates are held in the traditional Oxford Style. Those attending vote prior to and after a debate, and the winning debate team is decided by which way the vote swings. So, for instance, if prior to the debate the audience favors the propositions by 55% but after only 51% favor it, then the opposing team is considered to have won the debate.
Here's a brief description of the participants (from the Intelligence Squared website):
David Brooks became an Op-Ed columnist for The New York Times in September, 2003. He has been a Sr. editor at The Weekly Standard, a contributing editor at Newsweek and the Atlantic Monthly, and he is currently a commentator on “The Newshour with Jim Lehrer.” He is the author of “Bobos In Paradise: The New Upper Class and How They Got There” and “On Paradise Drive: How We Live Now (And Always Have) in the Future Tense,” and the soon to be released, "The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character, and Achievement."
Arianna Huffington is the co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post, a nationally syndicated columnist, and author of thirteen books. She is also co-host of Left, Right & Center, public radio’s popular political roundtable program. In May 2005, she launched The Huffington Post, a news and blog site that has quickly become one of the most widely-read, linked to, and frequently-cited media brands on the Internet. In 2006, she was named to the Time 100, Time Magazine's list of the world’s 100 most influential people.
Zev Chafets is a frequent contributor to the New York Times Magazine and a former columnist for the New York Daily News. He was the founding editor of the Jerusalem Report and is the author of twelve books, including "Rush Limbaugh: An Army of One." Chafets spent 30 years living in Israel with their multi-party system, during which he was an active participant in the Egyptian-Israeli peace process and a delegate to the first Israeli-Egyptian peace negotiations.
P.J. O'Rourke is America’s premier political satirist, the H.L. Mencken Research Fellow at the Cato Institute, and the bestselling author of 13 books, including "Don’t Vote: It Just Encourages the Bastards," "Parliament of Whores," and "Give War a Chance." Both Time and the Wall Street Journal have labeled O’Rourke “the funniest writer in America.” He has written for such diverse publications as Car & Driver, the Weekly Standard, the Atlantic Monthly, and Rolling Stone, where he was foreign affairs desk chief for 15 years. In the 70s he was editor-in-chief of the National Lampoon.
Not only can you listen to the debate at the Intelligence Squared website ("The Two Party System is Making America Ungovernable"), but you can access transcripts of the debate as well.