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Author Topic: Debaters running the world  (Read 10237 times)
DoyleSrader
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« on: January 09, 2010, 07:31:49 PM »

It's been a while since we've done this publicly, and it's good grist for program defense: debaters in high places.

  • Neal Katyal, former Dartmouth debater, is principal deputy solicitor general of the United States.
  • Michael Gottlieb, former Northwestern debater, is associate counsel to the president.
  • Colin Kahl, former University of Michigan debater, is deputy assistant secretary of defense for the Middle East.
  • This is the one I'm not sure about, so I'm asking. I remember judging the Michigan team of Gorov Jindal and Raj Shah in the '93-'94 season, specifically in the doubles of the NDT against Wayne, in a huge CTBT debate. Now this week I'm hearing that the new head of AID is a Rajiv Shah, thirty-six years old, who graduated from the University of Michigan. Is this the same Raj Shah?

And whom can you add to the list?
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DoyleSrader
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« Reply #1 on: January 09, 2010, 07:40:42 PM »

(Never mind that last question: I found the answer myself here. The debating Raj Shah went on to law school, shockingly.)
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kelly young
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« Reply #2 on: January 09, 2010, 11:31:48 PM »

Always an important task. I believe the group discussing rationale for debate headed by Tim O'Donnell at the National Debate Development Conference at Wake this summer was also working generating and documenting this sort of thing. It would be nice if that list could be posted and added to here.

Kelly
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SherryHall
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« Reply #3 on: January 11, 2010, 08:35:06 PM »

While I have worked with and/or coached all three of the people Doyle mentions, and I think they are about 3 of the smartest people I know, there are other former debaters in positions of power as well. 

Robin Jacobsohn who debated for Dartmouth in the early 1980s just left her law firm job for a position as DOD counsel.

Mark Parkinson who debated for Catholic University and later Wichita State is the current governor of Kansas.

Larry Summers who debated for MIT (and was coached by Dallas) is now the chair of the Council of Economic Advisers.

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antonucci23
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« Reply #4 on: January 11, 2010, 11:16:21 PM »

A prominent member of Mr. Summers' staff: James Kvaal, Lexington High School and Stanford. 
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repko
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« Reply #5 on: January 14, 2010, 06:11:59 PM »

...wanted to chime-in here.

In the same graduating class, there were two accomplished high school debaters from Michigan that both happened to be named Raj Shah (one went by "Rajiv Shah").

The Raj Shah that debated at UMich and advanced to the elims of the NDT went-on to law school -- as Doyle suggests.

The "other Raj Shah" (if you will) is, in fact, the same person that Doyle originally inquired about. Rajiv is now in charge of USAID. He debated at Groves High School for John Lawson. This Rajiv also went to UMich, but opted against debating in college. Rajiv was a great high school debater -- winning the John S. Knight Scholarship competition in Michigan (coordinated by the Knight-Ridder news service and Detroit Free Press, this competition was solely for policy debaters and was basically always won by one of the best debaters in the State. Nate Silver won this award, Biz Repko did as well, Greta Stahl finished 2nd, and -- since it emphasizes public speaking skills -- Strauss did not place). The point is not the history of that award, it's that Rajiv played the same game we currently play -- and played it well.

I honestly haven't followed this thread -- but if the point is to catalog prominent political figures that understand "disad turns the case"... Rajiv Shah (of USAID) should be included.

 -- Will



(Never mind that last question: I found the answer myself here. The debating Raj Shah went on to law school, shockingly.)
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Brad Hall
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« Reply #6 on: June 24, 2010, 08:54:58 AM »

General David Petraeus (http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2010/05/petraeus-exclusive-201005?printable=true#ixzz0rmZrlKgi):

Where Petraeus excelled, of course, was collecting merit badges—affiliations and accomplishments that beefed up his college applications. He was driven. His high-school yearbook shows that he participated in a remarkably long list of activities: team sports (skiing, soccer, and rowing) and clubs for drama, debate, and French. He belonged to the National Honor Society and headed the town’s ecumenical religious youth group.
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DoyleSrader
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« Reply #7 on: August 26, 2010, 08:14:53 AM »

Do we know of any debaters who went into politics?

I've got a brand new Communication major with a bit of high school experience who has his eye on a career in politics, and I'm looking for advice from people who've done that. Just this morning I emailed my old Baylor teammate Paul Shomshor, who's in the Iowa General Assembly, but if you know of another or others, I'd love to hear about them, especially if there's any chance I ever met them (late eighties through early two thousands).
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Brad Hall
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« Reply #8 on: October 21, 2010, 11:07:15 AM »

David Boies' debate experience briefly covered in Fortune:

"David Boies had a colorful path to the law. The son of schoolteachers and the oldest of five children, he grew up in Illinois farm country and then Southern California. As a dyslexic, he didn't learn to read until third grade, yet he became a champion debater -- quick on his feet, adroit with words, without need of index cards (which he'd be too slow at reading anyway)." (http://money.cnn.com/2010/10/19/news/companies/david_boies_profile_full.fortune/index.htm#boies)

And there are some great cross-x tips in the article too (know everything about the topic first, let your opponent walk into a trap rather than bludgeon them, etc).
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Brad Hall
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« Reply #9 on: March 20, 2011, 06:18:11 AM »

Former Sec of State Warren Christopher, according to his LAT obit:

"Catherine Christopher moved the family to California in 1939 and went to work as a salesclerk. Warren earned money delivering papers for the Hollywood Citizen-News and excelled on the debate team at Hollywood High School. At 16 he entered what is now the University of Redlands on a debate scholarship, but transferred after a year to the Naval Officer Program at USC. He graduated in 1945 as an ensign. He served on an oil tanker in the Pacific theater as World War II was winding down."
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Brad Hall
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« Reply #10 on: April 16, 2012, 08:35:03 AM »

Elizabeth Warren (perhaps soon to be Senator Warren):

"A brilliant and competitive student, Warren was named Oklahoma’s top high-school debater at 16, the same year she graduated with a full debating scholarship to George Washington University."

From http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2011/11/elizabeth-warren-201111.print
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CouldaBeenaContenda
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« Reply #11 on: April 20, 2012, 11:55:34 AM »

Do we know of any debaters who went into politics?

Does Mark Fabiani count?
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DoyleSrader
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« Reply #12 on: April 20, 2012, 06:05:57 PM »

Nope. If I want political strategists, I've got my choice of Jon-Paul Lupo, Julie Sweet, Brett O'Donnell, or even Paul Barsness if I count his former life. I'm talking officeholder.
« Last Edit: April 20, 2012, 06:07:52 PM by DoyleSrader » Logged
DoyleSrader
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« Reply #13 on: March 01, 2014, 06:47:04 PM »

So this morning I was at the Nobel peace park, waiting for my 5K to get started. There are plaques honoring all the American winners of the Nobel peace prize, and the plaque for Dr. Ralph Bunche is sponsored by a couple who identify themselves as his debate teammates at UCLA. And various biographies of him also say he debated in high school, at Los Angeles-Jefferson.
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DoyleSrader
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« Reply #14 on: July 29, 2016, 09:25:09 AM »

And I assume everyone knows this by now, but just in case you didn't, now you do.
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