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UCLA and USC face off in another great debate

October 20, 2008 |  6:30 am

Presidential debateTalk about your historic rivalries. How about Lincoln vs. Douglas and UCLA vs. USC?

Bruin and Trojan forensics teams will face off at a 150th-anniversary observance of the great debates between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas next Thursday and Friday at UCLA's Hammer Museum. The schools will argue the topic "Should government be responsible for promoting social justice?" -- a riff on the burning question back in 1858 regarding how far the United States should go to end slavery.

Artist Sharon Hayes, who orchestrated big public performance pieces at the sites of last summer's political conventions, and Lincoln scholar Ronald C. White also will appear at "A House Divided" -- which is being presented by the Hammer and Clockshop, an L.A.-based producer of arts projects in public spaces.

This election year, the Lincoln-Douglas debates are hot stuff. L.A. Theatre Works is offering up Norman Corwin's 1959 version, "The Rivalry," starring Paul Giamatti and David Strathairn, through Sunday.

It's too bad John McCain and Barack Obama won't have time to catch either event. Judging from their recent encounters, they could stand to pick up a few pointers from two old masters.

-- Karen Wada

Photo by Ron Edmonds / Associated Press