Did we have enough debates?

posted at 9:20 am on March 17, 2012 by Jazz Shaw

As Doug Mataconis points out, it’s been nearly a month since the last time we had a debate between the remaining GOP presidential hopefuls. I have little doubt that there are more than a few of you doing a comedic pantomime of wiping sweat off your brow and saying, “Whew! Thank GOD!” (I can relate. I was doing more than a little of that myself.) There were so many issues with format, obnoxious questions from clueless moderators and myriad distractions that the events became easy fodder for parody more than useful tools for undecided voters.

But if we are truly done with them – a question which is still up in the air – is that really a good thing? Dan Amira doesn’t seem to think so.

Twenty debates is, actually, a sufficient number of debates. But it’s not the number of debates that’s the problem, it’s the pacing. There were six debates in January, but just one February, and now none in March or for the foreseeable future. Consequently, the candidates very thoroughly debated the issues that were popular in January and before, but not the ones that have arisen over the past six weeks.

For example, you may have noticed that there have been some major developments in Afghanistan since the last debate took place on February 22. Wouldn’t it be nice to hear the candidates discuss those events, and be pressed — by one another and by the moderators, before a national TV audience — on their plans for the future of the war? Could anyone in America describe what those plans are right now?

Plus, you know, rising gas prices, John McCain’s proposal to bomb Syria, heightening tensions with Iran, Vladimir Putin’s re-election, the improving economy, “using birth control makes you a slut,” the Kardashian-Hamm feud — all of that.

Maybe that was the problem. Speaking as someone who was tasked with not only watching them, but writing about them, tweeting about them and more, I eventually found myself wishing for a power outage when we had two of them in 48 hours. Perhaps if there had been fewer we would have had time to catch our breath between bouts.

Also, there were far too many when there were still seven or eight players on the field. They seemed to become somewhat more useful after we narrowed the field down a bit and each person had more time in the spotlight. And, as Amira notes, there wasn’t really enough time for a variety of issues to take center stage as world events changed. At this point, we might actually benefit from a fresh debate where all four of them weighed in on the shooting in Afghanistan and its consequences for the future, an update on Syria, gas prices and the latest round of elections in Russia.

What do you think? Is it too late and everyone has pretty much made up their minds already? Or could we benefit from one more trip to the lecterns for the final four?


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We had too many of the wrong kind (of debates,) with leftist moderators asking stupid irrelevant questions, wasting everybody’s time.

RBMN on March 17, 2012 at 9:31 AM

We had too many that were moderated by liberal television networks and “journalists” … too few moderated by those whose leaning are more rational and objective.

carl todd hand on March 17, 2012 at 9:34 AM

If moderators would ask relevant questions, it probably would be a good idea to have another debate. It pained me to say that though.

Lightswitch on March 17, 2012 at 9:35 AM

What do you think? Is it too late and everyone has pretty much made up their minds already? Or could we benefit from one more trip to the lecterns for the final four?

What would be the point?

We’ve been told over and over by analysts, pundits, pollsters, and other professional prognosticators that there is no way that a NotRomney can win the nomination. If that’s true, there’s no point in having more debates.

Heck, we might as well cancel the remaining primary contests, too. Since the race is over, I mean.

Just Sayin on March 17, 2012 at 9:35 AM

Agree RBMN. The leftist, Obama apologists controlled the questions and narrative. I’d like to see more of the “Lincoln-Douglas” style debates. Those are the most substantive, and I learned a lot about the candidates.

conservative pilgrim on March 17, 2012 at 9:36 AM

We had FAR TOO MANY DEBATES….which were short on substance and long on liberal media narratives. It was pathetic.

mountainaires on March 17, 2012 at 9:40 AM

We had too many of the wrong kind (of debates,) with leftist moderators asking stupid irrelevant questions, wasting everybody’s time.

RBMN on March 17, 2012 at 9:31 AM

We also had too many bunched together. Now, both Romney and Santorum don’t want any more debates because they think more debates will only hurt them. They should see debates as free advertising, but because they’re cowards, they’re afraid that they might say something that will hurt them, or that Gingrich and Paul may gain support as a result of a strong debate effort.

NoNails on March 17, 2012 at 9:42 AM

If the Democrats can get away with not debating on Fox News, the Republicans should, at least, be able to avoid political hacks like George Stephanopolis. The best debates were ones where conservative think tanks worked in conjunction with the networks and the Fox News debates. ABC proved themselves to be unworthy of conducting debates and they should be forced to tell the RNC how they’re going to correct their obvious bias.

bflat879 on March 17, 2012 at 9:42 AM

We need fewer debates and better, non-Democrat moderators. George Stephanopoulos? Really? C’mon.

rcpjr on March 17, 2012 at 9:43 AM

I think we had 3 or 4 forums that tended to be serious and a ton of dog and pony shows.Republicans are letting the media set the narrative when they need to skinning Obama non-stop on his disastrous economic and energy policies.

Southernblogger on March 17, 2012 at 9:46 AM

RBMN

Yes. The Left moderating monopoly of messaging also represented by the Republican neoconservative participants. That includes the ugly association of RNC and Republican Leadership in office with the Marxist media.

The bipartisan business of selling authoritarian “shared values” won’t enjoy another willing audience beyond addicts of abuse.

maverick muse on March 17, 2012 at 9:47 AM

We had enough with the likes of Scott Pelley, Anderson Cooper, George Snuffleupagus and the rest of the Ministry of Truth as moderators.

How about letting people like Thomas Sowell, Mark Steyn and Mark Levin moderate the debates?

THAT would be must-see TV.

Rixon on March 17, 2012 at 9:47 AM

Debates are good. What I don’t understand is why the GOP is incapable of having at least one sponsored by a less biased outlet that would at least concentrate on topics that are cornerstone issues of Conservatives.

Just one. And then go back to CNN and have John King ask about personal lives.

hawkdriver on March 17, 2012 at 9:47 AM

No more debates for the simple reason that for the most part the moderators they’ve chosen are pathetic. If you can hold a debate with an unknown professional moderator who has no gotcha questions in his or her pocket, who sticks to the top 3 issues at hand and we have an independent news outlet broadcasting it…if there is such a thing…then maybe we could use a few more in the coming months once it’s down to two candidates. Otherwise, they can stuff it if fathead “journalists” are going to be part of it.

scalleywag on March 17, 2012 at 9:48 AM

Since I voted two months ago, I personally don’t need to see another “debate.” But I imagine that those in states who haven’t yet voted might appreciate it. Particularly if they weren’t paying attention earlier.

That said, I completely agree that most of the “debates” were pretty absurd, and largely served to further divide the GOP electorate. Even most of the Fox “debates” were similar to those hosted by CNN and others, just without the obvious Leftist tilt.

Syzygy on March 17, 2012 at 9:48 AM

By all means, let’s give little George Stephanolopous another chance to deflect the debate away from Bammie’s problems into social issues. Perhaps an entire debate on internet porn?

slickwillie2001 on March 17, 2012 at 9:49 AM

I think we need fewer liberal narrators…wait, did someone say that already?

Well I think it’s true! Of course the liberal moderators were Newt’s best antagonist’s…he’d have never had surge 1, 2, or 3,000 without ‘em.

DHChron on March 17, 2012 at 9:50 AM

We had too many of the wrong kind (of debates,) with leftist moderators asking stupid irrelevant questions, wasting everybody’s time.

RBMN on March 17, 2012 at 9:31 AM

There should have been definite subjects to cover in each debate. If the moderators strayed from the topic, they should have been stared down by all of the candidates. The silence would have been amazing. The Republicans should, to some degree, be able to control their own debates.

Fallon on March 17, 2012 at 9:50 AM

I’d like to see a debate between Mr. President and any of our candidates, that would be interesting.

scalleywag on March 17, 2012 at 9:50 AM

If they had a debate this month I wouldn’t watch because they’d be about Fluke, what language to speak in Puerto Rico, and Mitt’s dog if you left it to the lefty moderators.

scalleywag on March 17, 2012 at 9:52 AM

The Rs are pussies – Iowa first (they can’t even count votes accurately), open primaries, libs moderating debates and on and on. Even without the MSM the progressives would control the narrative. They act like they don’t even care.

jb34461 on March 17, 2012 at 9:52 AM

I’d PAY to see John Stossel and Mark Steyn moderate a Republican Debate.

THAT would be real.

In fact, I’m already mocking the blowhard wobbly “inevitable” and “I’ll Attack China!” big t!tty baby candidates too chicken for a cockfight.

maverick muse on March 17, 2012 at 9:53 AM

I agree the moderators were awful for most of these debates. I would like a free for all style debate where the moderator is more like a ref and not an active participant for the Obama adminstration. The candidates each bring up a topic and all debate it. The mod keeps time and whose turn is next. That’s it. We should have had three or four of those and no more. This way there’s no dumbass, DNC/Axelrod-inspired question about states banning contraception injected by the hack democrat posing as a journalist.

Mr. Mike on March 17, 2012 at 9:55 AM

worst moderator is a toss up between Diane Sawyer, Jim “I’m on crack” Kramer, and George Stephenoplouphogus

DHChron on March 17, 2012 at 10:02 AM

I’m going to say that we only had a few actual debates. Most of the rest were “X said Y about you, how do you respond?” type of gossip questions. There were also gotcha questions and questions about topics to aid president Obama in the election, i.e. birth control pills. Where were the policy questions? What were the candidates going to DO specifically? And where were the questions asking questions to clarify or explain either why they said something or if they still believe something they’ve said in the past?

So let us have more actual debates. Also, it is just plain silly to ask a candidate a complex question they have to answer in 60 seconds. Debates are not supposed to be entertaining for entertainment’s sake, they’re supposed to be educational and informative. Let’s try having that.

Weebork on March 17, 2012 at 10:06 AM

Yes, we have had enough debates unless Barack Obama is also participating and there are neutral moderators. (So we’ve had enough debates.)

I can’t even type the phrase neutral moderators with a straight face.

Anticipated questions if there is another debate: So, why do Reupblicans hate women? Why do they want to sell them as property? Why do you want to ban contraception? etc.

talkingpoints on March 17, 2012 at 10:07 AM

I was amused how the lib media freaked every time a couple people applauded something mildly if at all offensive.

Then president mom jeans repeated the talking points verbatim after admitting he doesn’t even watch the debates! What a tool! A tool in mom jeans.

DHChron on March 17, 2012 at 10:08 AM

Personally, tired of the debates, way too many questions about Fast N Furious, Solyndra,Lightsquared, Obamacare details, religious liberties, etc…….oh wait…

hillsoftx on March 17, 2012 at 10:09 AM

I think we need a four attack fest on this administration.

IlikedAUH2O on March 17, 2012 at 10:11 AM

Enough is enough is enough. No more debates.

Falz on March 17, 2012 at 10:11 AM

See who can best rip the Dems top to bottom.

IlikedAUH2O on March 17, 2012 at 10:12 AM

How many is too much?

Wigglesworth on March 17, 2012 at 10:13 AM

Personally, tired of the debates, way too many questions about Fast N Furious, Solyndra,Lightsquared, Obamacare details, religious liberties, etc…….oh wait…

hillsoftx on March 17, 2012 at 10:09 AM

forget the debates! Our candidates can’t even be bothered to mention Solyndra when stumping on Energy policy.

A lot of this is Republican cowardice, not just liberal moderators.

DHChron on March 17, 2012 at 10:13 AM

We had too many of the wrong kind (of debates,) with leftist moderators asking stupid irrelevant questions, wasting everybody’s time.

RBMN on March 17, 2012 at 9:31 AM

If moderators would ask relevant questions, it probably would be a good idea to have another debate. It pained me to say that though.

Lightswitch on March 17, 2012 at 9:35 AM

I don’t care how many debates there are. I don’t feel obligated to watch any of them, so the number bother me.
I agree with RBMN and Lightswitch.

If we could get a debate moderated “evil Conservatives”, then I’m all for having one-a-month, up to the Convention.

listens2glenn on March 17, 2012 at 10:16 AM

Did we have enough debates?

No. 45 more should do the trick.

rukiddingme on March 17, 2012 at 10:17 AM

We had enough debates -the problem is that we didn’t have any conservative candiates that had the character, wisdom, courage and moral integrity to actually reverse what the GOP selects, protects and often elects, and thereby attract enough voters by actually selling the message -not slogans- and restore power to the citizenry, not some elitist counrty club back room where Christians and family folks, who worry about their freedom, being banned.

Don L on March 17, 2012 at 10:18 AM

If we could get a debate moderated “evil Conservatives”, then I’m all for having one-a-month, up to the Convention.

listens2glenn on March 17, 2012 at 10:16 AM

that’s “evil knuckle dragging neocon troglodytes” to you good sir! I thank you to get your facts straight next time.

DHChron on March 17, 2012 at 10:19 AM

The so called journalists should be embarrassed that Huckabee,of all people, had the best substance of all of the debates. His format allowed more depth of topics.

karenhasfreedom on March 17, 2012 at 10:19 AM

Not about quantity but quality.

Only one good debate given by Jim Demint.

The rest were designed by Obama stooges in the media to push the party to the left and reinforce stereotypes.

Valiant on March 17, 2012 at 10:20 AM

Not about quantity but quality.

Valiant on March 17, 2012 at 10:20 AM

I disagree, but only on marijuana.

Everything else you said was spot on.

DHChron on March 17, 2012 at 10:23 AM

FLAT EARTH?

We shouldn’t bother producing oil or refining it. That may create jobs.

Cars that need recharging eight hours instead of two minutes in a gas station or costing 40K for a $17K sedan make sense to some idiots.

The same man who nailed President Bush on high gas prices now has his toadies saying nothing can be done about them.

IlikedAUH2O on March 17, 2012 at 10:25 AM

No. 45 more should do the trick.

rukiddingme on March 17, 2012 at 10:17 AM

*guffaw*

and Sandra Fluke should moderate every one of ‘em

DHChron on March 17, 2012 at 10:31 AM

I’m good for now. Maybe next month.

Philly on March 17, 2012 at 10:33 AM

I think we should have a cage match run by WWE
debate on Fast and Furious, crony capitalism/Solyndra, Obamacare’s failures, and have it moderated by Heritage Foundation.

A halftime show with the Swedish Bikini Team would be nice as a seque to the Obeyme administration War on Women’s health in Texas.

WhatNot on March 17, 2012 at 10:35 AM

Although I am A Romney supporter what i think would be a great debate is

MITT VERSUS MITT.

Mitt could debate himself taking both sides of positions since he’s been on both side of positions.

NEWT versus NEWT versus NEWT

over his career Newt has been on all sides of postions at least three times. He could walk to three different podiums.

ANGEL RICK VERSUS DEVIL RICK

Rick could debate SATAN.

Ron Paul never changes positions so he can’t have a debate.

LOL

gerry-mittbot-debate coach

gerrym51 on March 17, 2012 at 10:55 AM

Same amount, more spread out, better moderators. There were too many with all of the candidates not enough with the finalists. The best debate was the Huckaber debate. The nominee may get three cracks at Obama probably two and the setting will probably be a set up for Obama. I would love to see a Lincoln/douglas style debate as Newt suggested. The more we get Obama off the teleprompter the better.

ldbgcoleman on March 17, 2012 at 11:02 AM

Of course the liberal moderators were Newt’s best antagonist’s…he’d have never had surge 1, 2, or 3,000 without ‘em.

DHChron on March 17, 2012 at 9:50 AM

And your point is?

evergreenland on March 17, 2012 at 11:16 AM

There were too many EARLY debates. There were like 20 with very little voting done in between. Take 15 and spread them across the whole primary process and you’ll have better results.

Zaggs on March 17, 2012 at 11:33 AM

We had FAR TOO MANY DEBATES….which were short on substance and long on liberal media narratives. It was pathetic.

mountainaires on March 17, 2012 at 9:40 AM

…what you said!

Debates are good. What I don’t understand is why the GOP is incapable of having at least one sponsored by a less biased outlet that would at least concentrate on topics that are cornerstone issues of Conservatives.

Just one. And then go back to CNN and have John King ask about personal lives.

hawkdriver on March 17, 2012 at 9:47 AM

…what he said!

DHChron on March 17, 2012 at 10:08 AM

Personally, tired of the debates, way too many questions about Fast N Furious, Solyndra,Lightsquared, Obamacare details, religious liberties, etc…….oh wait…

hillsoftx on March 17, 2012 at 10:09 AM

…what they said!

Oh he11!….what you all said! DITTO!

KOOLAID2 on March 17, 2012 at 11:35 AM

I enjoy primary debates when they are reasonably based in reality but when you have a bunch of candidates lying about their past record, pretending to be something they’re not and instead just repeating focus-group tested propaganda their campaigns have prepared, the debates lose their value and actually cause more harm than good by misleading the electorate.

I think they had so many debates so that people would focus more on what the cheap words that candidates say, instead of what they’ve actually done.

FloatingRock on March 17, 2012 at 11:35 AM

The so called journalists should be embarrassed that Huckabee,of all people, had the best substance of all of the debates. His format allowed more depth of topics.

karenhasfreedom on March 17, 2012 at 10:19 AM

I agree he did have the best substance, also Frank Luntz had one that really showed the personal side of each one of the candidate it was the Thanksgiving family forum , many subtle things were said or expressed that no debate can show that side of them.
I did not like Huck.’s last debate since it was so obvious Fox wanted to show the soft side of Mitt they had 2 grieved parents ask him and cry (one of them ) and he still came off stiff and gave a businessman
like answer.
There is bias every where, conservative bias is so blatant here on HA just look at the photos that they choose next to a post about Gingrich it tells their contempt towards the man. While Santo’s photo almost has a hallo.

One last debate with Huck, Luntz, levin, as moderators maybe sponsored by Hillsdale college will be great.

evergreenland on March 17, 2012 at 11:38 AM

If moderators would ask relevant questions, it probably would be a good idea to have another debate. It pained me to say that though.

Lightswitch on March 17, 2012 at 9:35 AM

Absolutely. But until Republicans begin paving their own way in the world and stop looking for love from Democrats that won’t happen. No more debates this cycle. Next time, use conservative outlets only, and stay away from the networks – including cable. FOX News and CNN weren’t much better than NBC.

jan3 on March 17, 2012 at 11:39 AM

All that these excessive debates accomplished in the end is giving the Dems free talking points and fodder for the inevitable deceptive attack commercials.

Way.

Too.

Many.

hillbillyjim on March 17, 2012 at 11:57 AM

Also, better judgment should have been used in deciding which moderators were acceptable — going in front of a Democratic operative who is in contact with the WH almost every day is probably not the smartest move.

hillbillyjim on March 17, 2012 at 12:00 PM

The essential problem is getting around the broadcast and cable networks, their agendas, and their agenda-driven moderators. (Dirty little secret: the debaters themselves prefer the current formats, which are the most conducive to delivering canned sound bites.) Unfortunately, unless a debate is broadcast, no one will see it. The internet is a partial solution, AM radio and newspaper transcripts or semi-transcripts (as were common in the last two centuries) are partial solutions, although the latter two can’t provide the visuals essential to the debate experience expected by most, um, ,viewers.

Conservative organizations such as Heritage Foundation and American Enterprise Institute are more than willing to sponsor these debates, but probably can’t (or don’t want to) underwrite the entire cost of the production. So they bring in CNN. The network shares the cost (recouped to some degree by advertising) and brings a much larger audience.

Figure out how to reach a nationwide audience without the networks and the GOP surely could control its own debates.

de rigueur on March 17, 2012 at 12:09 PM

Instead of the 20 or so debates crammed into these last four months, one a month starting in January of the election year would suit me.

multiuseless on March 17, 2012 at 12:42 PM

I know the liberal/conservative media/moderators in most of the debates had their own agenda and their own biases, but I still think debates should be held regularly in primaries.

I’d like to see Lincoln-Douglas style debates where the various relevant subjects would be discussed and debated ie the economy, energy solutions, reducing the size of govt, etc. No one minute sound bite answers or rebuttals.

IndeCon on March 17, 2012 at 12:44 PM

We need three or five or some other odd-numbered number of debates between the two finalists, for lack of a better word (although it makes it sound like the primary process has become a variation of American Idol). At this make-or-break point, hearing in-depth answers to thoughtful, sometimes complicated policy questions unbound by a 30-second time limit would give Republican primary voters a solid basis upon which to make an informed decision.

troyriser_gopftw on March 17, 2012 at 3:09 PM

The game show format was problematic, especially with 7-8 candidates rushing answers to “beat the buzzer” in order to get their fair share of facetime. The debate schedule was too front-loaded; most voters weren’t paying attention to the crowded field.

NOW would be a great time for debate. With only four candidates left and 1-1/2 to 2 hours to fill, more time can be granted to really get to know each of the men who would be our next President.

Ladysmith CulchaVulcha on March 17, 2012 at 3:34 PM

We need three or five or some other odd-numbered number of debates between the two finalists, for lack of a better word (although it makes it sound like the primary process has become a variation of American Idol). At this make-or-break point, hearing in-depth answers to thoughtful, sometimes complicated policy questions unbound by a 30-second time limit would give Republican primary voters a solid basis upon which to make an informed decision.

troyriser_gopftw on March 17, 2012 at 3:09 PM

If only…and this would be the way to do the general election debates as well.

Priscilla on March 17, 2012 at 3:51 PM

gerry-mittbot-debate coach

gerrym51 on March 17, 2012 at 10:55 AM

Lol. And so true. I would pay to watch Rick vs. Satan….they could use “Devil Came Down to Georgia” as a theme song.

Priscilla on March 17, 2012 at 3:54 PM

We had FAR TOO MANY DEBATES….which were short on substance and long on liberal media narratives. It was pathetic.
mountainaires on March 17, 2012 at 9:40 AM

Yup. I’d say we haven’t had a debate yet. Just some nightmare media mashups of beauty pageants and irrelevant quiz shows.

whatcat on March 17, 2012 at 4:23 PM

We have not had ANY “Debates”!!!


What we have had is Republican Roasts chaired by the Lamestream Press!! These farces have only served to usurp bad TV shows with a worse one, and to prevent serious discussion of important political issues.

We urgently need to have some REAL, serious debates on REAL issues. Each debate should be on ONE issue, and structured so that each participant gets equal time for presentation of his position, rebuttal, and cross examinations.

landlines on March 18, 2012 at 12:43 AM

PS:

In a REAL debate, the moderator announces the topic and thereafter does not participate in the discussion or interfere with it in any way. The object of a debate should be to hear the CANDIDATES…not the moderator!!

landlines on March 18, 2012 at 12:49 AM

Yup. I’d say we haven’t had a debate yet. Just some nightmare media mashups of beauty pageants and irrelevant quiz shows.

whatcat on March 17, 2012 at 4:23 PM

Agreed. It would be nice to have at least one real debate.

JeffVader on March 18, 2012 at 4:22 AM