Remember when it was a horrible idea for Reince Priebus to seize control of the GOP debate process and take it out of the hands of the media? He was shutting out the press. He was squelching less well funded candidates. He was bringing about the the destruction of Westeros and toppling the Iron Throne. It was just terrible, and plenty of Democrats had harsh words for the chairman at that time.
But it’s a brave new world now. Limiting the number of debates and who can take part in them is apparently just peachy, according to DNC Communications Director Mo Elleithee. (Article via Time Magazine.)
Just minutes after announcing that it will only sanction six contests and that candidates who appear in any debate outside of those six will be barred from attending a sanctioned debate, Lis Smith, a spokeswoman for likely Democratic contender former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley criticized the small number of debates and the exclusivity requirement.
“If Governor O’Malley decides to run, we will expect a full, robust, and inclusive set of debates — both nationally and in early primary and caucus states,” she said in a statement to reporters. ”This has been customary in previous primary seasons. In a year as critical as 2016, exclusivity does no one any favors.”
There are some key differences between the limits being imposed by the Republicans and the Democrats, and for good reason. The GOP has a vested interest in keeping the number of debate participants down to something below, oh, I don’t know… twenty? Having too many on the stage at one time leaves everyone with strictly imposed limits of a minute or two where they can choke out a couple of vacuous talking points on complicated issues. The Democrats are going to have more than enough trouble finding even a few serious candidates willing to risk their political necks by taking on the Clinton machine. By contrast, the RNC may have to limit it to a certain bar in the national polling averages just to hold it to a manageable number.
Further, there is no mention in the new Democrat plan as to kicking out MSM moderators and replacing them with more even handed hosts. Why would they? Pretty much everyone on tap to helm such an event from the networks and cable news will be rooting for Hillary to win anyway.
Really, it looks like the DNC is stealing ideas cooked up by the GOP for very different and highly cynical reasons. Oh, and they even admit that the Republicans came up with a winner.
“Every now and then Republicans have ideas that aren’t so terrible, and this was one of them,” he added of the exclusivity clause.
Hillary is still the DNC’s last, best and likely only hope. But she’s collecting scandals and bad press like a cat covering itself with dust bunnies under the couch. Every debate is going to give some mean spirited upstart the chance to bring those to light on a stage where the moderator will almost have to ask Hillary to answer those charges. That’s bad news for everyone on that side of the political fence, so keeping the rabble off the stage can only help Hillary.
Similarly, limiting the number of debates cuts down the amount of damage control required. In that aspect at least, both parties are looking to gain an advantage. Debates are great for the voters, but each one presents an opportunity for a candidate to stumble and the media to pounce. While this may be a terrible idea for the primary voters, it seems like such a sure fire winner for the Democrats that it will probably sail through.