June 6, 2007

"Why don't they put all the candidates in one debate instead of separating Democrats and Republicans?"

John IMs me that question from his bar review class in Ithaca. More IMishness:
whoever wins is EVENTUALLY going to be pitted against someone from the opposite party....

shouldn't we want to see what they seem like in contrast with their eventual opponent?...

we're having all these 1.5- and 2-hour debates with 8 or 10 people. Why not have a couple 2-hour debates with 18 people each?...

I hope the argument is not: "we'd lose track of the candidates." I don't think most people who are watching the segregated debates can keep track of who Hunter, Gilmore, or Dodd are!...

It would lead to more disputes between individual candidates (say, Edwards and McCain get into a squabble, or whatever), which is always the thing that gets the most media attention, because it's the most memorable and makes the candidates stand out.

And the objection can't be: "They're never done it like that before." We've never been in this situation (open field for both parties in presidential primary) in the TV era.

And don't just give a knee-jerk no, no, we can't do that. Open your mind to a new possibility.

ADDED: The candidates could agree to do this if they wanted. I wonder in whose interest it would be to show their stuff head-to-head with a potential opponent. I'll bet Hillary does not want to be seen debating with Giuliani until it's too late for Democrats to back out. Maybe some of the minor characters to bring some excitement by matching up with guys from the other side. Have Dodd and Kucinich debate Paul and Tancredo, for example. No one cares about them now, but put all four together, and it's an exciting new show.

32 comments:

CrudeBoy said...

It would be most entertaining if they did it in the "Family Feud" manner, with each group caucasing to come up with a unified answer in a set time period. We would quickly see who the leaders and followers are.

Mark said...

The idea overlooks the fact that the reason for these debates is so party voters can chhose their partys' nominee. Hillary ain't running against Mccain for the Democratic or GOP nomination last time I looked...

MadisonMan said...

Or do a Match Game. Hillary can have the Brett Somers spot, and Giuliani can be Charles Nelson Reilly.

I think the main reason we don't have a all-in-one debate right now is that the Democratic and Republican candidates are pandering to their respective parties, not to the general electorate, most of whom don't want to think about Presidential Election shenanigans this far away from November 2008. If the goal is to find the strongest candidate, however, why would the Republican party participate in something that ultimately results in a stronger Democratic Candidate? Or vice versa, with the Democratic Party aiding and abetting the vetting of a strong Republican candidate. Sure, it might be the best thing for the country as a whole, but since when did either party have that as a goal?

Kirby Olson said...

As it is the Democrats have to appeal to the far left to get in, and the Republicans ahve to appeal to the far right to get in, and then it's the center that chooses.

I too have wondered why the parties want to skew the choice off to the fringe only to be seen as fringe lunatics come election time.

Hillary and Giuliani are the two that are probably closest to the center in the two parties. Giuliani's sense of humor (I really think this is the most important aspect of a candidate finally -- not just to me -- but to most Americans) will win it for him.

I'm not sure that any of the Democrats running have much of a sense of humor now that Sharpton's not running this year. I think a sense of humor is probably incompatible with the far left sensibility but I doubt if the center would back a candidate that didn't have an appealing sense of humor.

Bruce Hayden said...

I like the idea. Both sides need someone to call BS on them in their debates. I think that the Democrats, being out of power, probably even more so - you almost got the feeling with their attempts to one up each other on the issue of socialized health care that it would not only be paying for itself, but would be turning a profit. Not really, but each one seemed more extravigant than the previous one.

But I think we get our hopes up too high. I have quit watching the presidential debates between the party candidates because they seem so highly scripted any more. It is almost like the Super Bowl, when the commercials are more important than the game. Here, what Al gore was wearing or whether he incroached up George Bush's space was more important than the substance of what they said.

Of course, that all harkens back to the first televised presidential debates, where Kennedy beat Nixon supposedly because of his 5 o'clock shadow. To me, that is a silly way to pick the president of the most powerful nation in the world right now - who can portray themselves the best on TV.

SWBarns said...

They had it all set up but both Hillary and McCain insisted on being the center square.

Zeb Quinn said...

The idea overlooks the fact that the reason for these debates is so party voters can chhose their partys' nominee. Hillary ain't running against Mccain for the Democratic or GOP nomination last time I looked...

And your point overlooks the fact that this format would give each party's voters a chance to see how their candidates performed when matched up against those of the other party.

It would also force candidates to respond to questions and to rebuttals to their own positions that they aren't now getting.

Mark said...

It would also force candidates to respond to questions and to rebuttals to their own positions that they aren't now getting.

Yes, they are. McCain was answering his critics on the immigration bill constantly last night. Similarly in the Democratic debate, certain candidates were questioned on why they voted for or against the war funding bill.

We are going to get to the point where the nominees will debate each other, and for an election season that has already become too long, what is the point of having second or third-tier candidates from each party debate each other? A Ron Paul/Kucinich debate might be entertaining, but in the long run has no value whatsoever to deciding who the next president is.

Eugene said...

It's called interleague play, and MLB finally figured out that fans like to see it more than once a year between only two teams. At some point during the presidential campaign season, every plausible candidate should have to go one-on-one against every other plausible candidate, regardless of party.

SteveR said...

Not a bad idea in theory but too many players. What could be gained from Ron Paul or Gilmore going up against Kucinich, etc etc.? Its bad enough already. The whole debate concept as it currently plays out is an over hyped media event that I find difficult to be interested in.

Mike said...

What's to stop Giuliani, for example, from unilaterally challenging Hillary to debate? I think it would be a win/win for Giuliani whether Hillary says yes or no. And if Hillary trounces Rudy, that's a win for Hillary and a win for Republicans (since they'll then know to pick a better nominee). And, best of all, it would be good for the voters.

XWL said...

I like the idea so much, I suggested somethings along those lines three weeks ago.

Quote for those that hate following links,

...Another thing worth changing would be to combine the Democrats and Republicans together. These debates are a conversation, and that conversation should offer both sides, not just one or the other, the earlier both major parties actively engage the other, the better it would be for both party's electorate to determine which candidate is best capable of offering a strong challenge in the only poll that matters, the one on the 2nd Tuesday in November of an election year.

So here's the format, invite four candidates from each party to bi-weekly debates. If logistics makes meeting in the same town impossible, there's this thing called teleconferencing, and I hear you can do pretty amazing things with it.

Have each candidate be the "host" for ten minutes at a time, asking questions to the four opposing party candidates. Have a moderator ensure that they don't use their time to ask 9 minute questions full of their own campaign talking points, but instead reward candidates for engaging the other side directly. If Sen. Clinton is a legitimate potential leader for this nation, she ought to be able to ask questions, and get asked questions, directly from Mayor Giuliani or Sen. McCain, or Gov. Romney. Likewise, a former prosecutor like Giuliani would have fun going after Clinton, or Sen. Obama, or Sen. Edwards on specific issues of interest to him and the nation.

peter hoh said...

I got an idea. Stick 'em all on a tropical island, break them into teams, and film the whole thing. Wouldn't you love to see McCain and Edwards sitting by the campfire, trying to decide whether or not to share any of the wild pig that they just killed?

peter hoh said...

Better yet, have them camp out along the southern border of New Mexico. When they aren't busy building shelter or finding food, they can earn immunity points by catching illegal aliens trying to cross the border. I really want to see if Romney can kill any varmits, by the way.

Eugene said...

"Plausible candidate" means polling in double-digits across a spectrum of reliable polls. Or just have those brilliant people who concocted the BCS crunch the numbers. They always come up with the true frontrunners, don't they? Or again, maybe not.

Thorley Winston said...

Of course, that all harkens back to the first televised presidential debates, where Kennedy beat Nixon supposedly because of his 5 o'clock shadow. To me, that is a silly way to pick the president of the most powerful nation in the world right now - who can portray themselves the best on TV.

Agreed, I didn’t watch any of the debates in the last presidential election and haven’t seen any of the current debates although I have read news stories and did catch a few minutes on the radio. From what I’ve observed the questions seem designed to elicit headlines rather than provide insight, the answers scripted sound bites, and the time permitted to answer doesn’t lend itself to teaching anything meaningful about any of the people, one of whom is likely to be elected as our next president.

Doyle said...

And don't just give a knee-jerk no, no, we can't do that. Open your mind to a new possibility.

Can someone who likes Ann please explain the appeal of this kind of condescension?

She apparently feels that a mixed-party debate is so mindblowing an idea to her readers that they need encouragement to face it head-on.

The reason that it makes sense to do it this way is that we have a two party system where the nominees are chosen (largely) by the members of each party. That means Republicans get to spend a lot of time on immigration, abortion, etc. and can establish differences between the individual candidates.

Adding the major R-D divide to the debate would make it harder for any individual to stand out relative to the other members of their own party. So a mixed debate would be more entertaining but less useful.

Cedarford said...

Kind of a dumb idea.

It would have the merit of forcing candidates to be called on their Party pandering in a way that the self-annointed media journalists who always end up master of ceremonies as moderators refuse to do.

But the down side is considerable. Instead of an audience, you would have the seats filled with idiots from both Parties saying nothing substantial but launching cynical zingers at the opposition in hopes of the Journalistic Elite awarding them the killer soundbite! or Great Gotcha Question! recognition of the superiority of one liner expertise in a candidate - which of course has absolutely nothing to do with being the executive leader running a country.

It would allow both Parties to set up sacrificial hatchetmen or women that aren't serious candidates who could then use the debate to sling the mud and personal character assassination on the opposition that neither Party wants their lead candidates to do.

Of course, just throwing Presidential candidates in a debate regardless of Party by "opening up the process" would also lower the barriers by saying it was just about the people announcing they wish to be President, not the Parties.

Think of the 52 candidates announcing for the California gubenatorial primary demanding "inclusion" in debate, only 100 times worse.

Hillary would get her 10 seconds of time, so that the Gay Vegan candidate, the New Muslim Party, Kevorkian, Rosie for President and 600 other kooks mixed in with 12 serious contenders could get their alloted 10 seconds as well. No thanks! Dumb idea. I want semi-finalists selected by "judges, supporters, donors" from the milling tens of thousands at cattle call before I wish to see such a debate - and with time limited - I want that time reserved to enable the real contenders that have a real shot to be able to articulate their positions free of the ambitious human dross that would bog a debate down into sheer incoherence by sheer numbers.

In fact, I want the Parties to start pruning, now that "intros" have been made and all announced contenders within Parties have had their shot. Anyone with less than 1% of the selection in national polls should be excluded from scheduled debates by the summer's end. Any with less than 3% out by early fall. That would still let a new person that has a support base to announce and jump in later, but would weed out the chaff.

-Peder said...

I love this idea but 18 people really are too many for a single debate. How about three debates with six people each? You could have the candidates randomly selected in a televised lottery (think NBA draft). The three debates would all be held in purple states about once a week for three weeks.
With random selection, you could end up with lower tiered candidates getting a chance to show they belong with the higher ones. The frontrunners would still have to prove that they could hold their own against the firebreathers near the bottom. Who wouldn't like to hear what Gravel says to Romney or Paul to Hillary?

Revenant said...

Have Dodd and Kucinich debate Paul and Tancredo, for example.

Yikes! I'd rather have my face gnawed off by weasels.

Kirby Olson said...

Democratic far lefters want to hear:

abortion on demand
no more borders
peace at any price
tax the rich and give the money to the poor


Republican far righters want to hear:

no abortion for any reason
all aliens out
strong military
stuff out of Leviticus (very harsh laws)
slavery reinstated for the poor

The middle (me) wants to hear:

nothing much about abortion
a lot about ethanol, etc.
a reasonably funny individual who isn't too much of a prude or a boor or a fake
at least something about work ethic
at least something about service to others
at least something about how the laws of the country should actually matter.

Edwards and Giuliani, to me, are the only people who are getting through to me.

Stuff that doesn't matter to me: When Biden hugs someone he doesn't even know and pretends he cares about him. Get real.

I don't want to hear anything that sounds remotely like Marxism or fascism or anything but Lockean liberalism.

I just want a functioning liberal lawful country and someone reasonable to run it. Locke's four basic rights: life, liberty, health, property. Paul Simon of Illinois would have been ideal but he's dead, and they broke that mold after he went and now everybody is some kind of morph.

Giuliani has a lot of what I'm looking for. Edwards has it, but he has to hide his sense of humor so that the far left doesn't see it. If they see it, they will think he has perspective, and finish him off for not being a Cyclops.

Revenant said...

slavery reinstated for the poor

Give me a break -- not even the Klan wants slavery.

LonewackoDotCom said...

I've already presented a much, much better debate idea here. That format would help avoid puffball questions from hacks like Wolf and Matthews. (I'll amend it to allow candidates to bring along their policy experts in order to better map the real world).

The only people who I can see not supporting my proposal or something like it are MSM hacks and partisan hacks. Hopefully enough other people could help me promote the idea.

Islandnbaltimore said...

Given the decention in the GOP right now wouldn't it be a good idea to come to a consensous before going against the opposition party? Why not build some type of political foundation first before trying to appeal to middle america.

hdhouse said...

If you put them all on a stage you could easily pick out the GOP members..they would be the ones that float like a balloon...all hot air and toes off the ground...that's why they want Thompson...he'd add so much bulk he might drag them back to the ground. gravitas anyone...

I hate to dismiss the entire lot as lightweights but...ok. I will. Any group of candidates who you are compelled to give them an opportunity to talk about their personal relationship with Jesus Christ (sealing the Jewish vote for sure) and opine about superstition v. science is just my kinda opponents....and don't forget Rudy's foreign policy experience is Bernie Kerik to Iraq to train Iraq's police force (how'd that work out??) and an occasional trip to Jersey.

This would be hilarious if it weren't so tragic. Where are the great leaders of the GOP in days gone by? Where is that Jeff Ganon when you need him? Talon News...calling Talon news.

Kirby Olson said...

I was laughing a bit when I put in the slavery thing for the Repos, but then there has been a case lately on Long Island in which a superwealthy couple has been sadi to be keeping slaves.

"Varsha Mahender Sabhani, 35, and her husband, Mahender Murlidhar Sabhani, 51, have pleaded not guilty to a federal court indictment accusing them of slavery and harboring undocumented immigrants."

This couple is from Indonesia, the morning paper says. It doesn't give a party affiliation.

In truth, I haven't heard actual members of either party making claims for slavery as a viable or legitimate institution.

Kirby Olson said...

Come to think of it, slavery might be one of those issues that brings us together rather than divides. It would be fun to ask candidates on each side whether they were for or against slavery, and to give their justification. A follow-up question might be whether or not you feel it should be legitimate for the Confederate flag to be flown on state, federal property or private property.

Fen said...

all illegal aliens out

/fixed

Come to think of it, slavery might be one of those issues that brings us together rather than divides. It would be fun to ask candidates on each side whether they were for or against slavery

Already being asked, in the form of immigration. Corporations [supporting both parties] are salivating at the prospect of legalized "slave" labor.

Kirby Olson said...

Well, exactly. I think this is what I meant by Bush's seeming inability to want to put up a wall. All that cheap labor with zero rights! And it brings down the rights of all the other lower class workers with it. It's almost too perfect to legislate against. The only thing better is a place like Haiti where the average annual income is about a thousand bucks. Average daily wage is about a dollar. Sometimes the companies throw in a vitamin. A bowl of rice costs forty cents.

And their last president Aristide threatened to goof all that up, so off he went in involuntary exile to some place that didn't have a media in Africa.

What's slavery when you can call it paying the going price. Let the Haitians tell you, they're use to it!

Or wait, there is no free media there. I guess they can't.

Matt said...

It wouldn't make sense to have the Dem and Rep candidates together at this point because the voters need to vote in a primary first. It might be a good show - but then would defeat the purpose of a primary.

Revenant said...

This couple is from Indonesia, the morning paper says. It doesn't give a party affiliation.

I believe the couple was from India, actually, and it was the victims who were Indonesian. But if the party affiliation was unknown, why blame it on the Republicans? Isn't this sort of behavior exactly the sort of thing that the Republican base is talking about when it condemns immigrants who refuse to conform to American culture?

I think this is what I meant by Bush's seeming inability to want to put up a wall. All that cheap labor with zero rights!

Pfft, I *wish* illegals had zero rights. They might stop coming here then.

Kirby Olson said...

Revenant you're right the couple are Indian. I had assumed that the weird H in the middle of the name had meant Indonesian -- Sabhnani. Like Sukharno. But then Gandhi has one of those two.

The male of the couple launched a perfume called Attitude in 1995.

You're right about rights, too. I think that in most of the world the notion of rights is something to laugh about. It certainly seems to be so in this case. Mrs. Sabhnani made the Islamic woman from Indonesia eat 200 hot chili peppers as punishment for some minor infraction. Cruel and unusual.

And heck, who knows. They could be green party, and totally aligned with Ralph Nader.