Vail Daily column: The real reason for debates
It appears the spoiled group of petulant children known as the Republican National Committee, along with a clown car stuffed with candidates, have taken their debate ball and gone home.
They now refuse to participate in a planned debate on NBC in February because last week’s CNBC debate was “conducted in bad faith,” which is another way of saying their toddlers on stage were ill prepared to answer any questions outside of the ones they had practiced responding to with those cute little zingers and 30-second sound bites for future Facebook memes.
Sure, who could forget Romney’s “self-deportation,” Gingrich’s “Moon Base” and Cain’s “9-9-9 … awwww, shucky ducky!” from 2012. Such deep intellectual responses were the obvious reason the three of them went exactly as far as they did.
The RNC continued their whining by accusing CNBC of asking “a series of ‘gotcha’ questions, petty and mean-spirited in tone, and designed to embarrass our candidates.”
Oh you poor little crybabies, yes, some of the questions were silly or downright stupid, but part of the reasoning to have debates on a national stage is for potential voters to see how a candidate can respond to the unexpected.
You can learn a great deal about a person’s character by how quickly they laugh at adversity or instantly blame others, and every candidate immediately whined about the unfair liberal media and the vast left-wing conspiracy to make them look like idiots on the stage.
Sorry, but they didn’t need any help.
The underlying purpose of these debates is to critically evaluate policy proposals, allowing viewers to measure the candidate’s answers against each other. Sadly, instead of debating the merits of their various policies, we were subjected to politicians doing what politicians do best — grandstand for attention and say whatever they can to one-up the competition and when stumped, just simply bash the media.
Easy targets make for good applause.
Of course the moderators did not help with their antagonistic tone and the “how can we shock the candidates and then watch them attack each other” attitude, but it makes for good television and we wouldn’t want ratings (and profits) to suffer, now would we?
The Democrat debate a few weeks ago was no better, only we didn’t have to listen to incessant whining about the process (Jim Webb whined about a lot of things but not the process). Clinton and Sanders spent the evening trying to “out sound bite” the other, with the result swaying no one any particular direction.
As to future debates, pre-approving the questions, as suggested by Cruz and Carson, would be no different than reading a candidate’s website, so what would be the point?
Either way, knowing how the GOP works, they’ll probably spend a few million dollars and create a select committee for future debate moderators and hold debates on how to hold debates.
They could then moderate themselves and call it moderbation, or something along those lines.
Richard Carnes, of Edwards, writes weekly. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.