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?