Thursday, January 26, 2012

Oh Those Debates

I have a new column over at Salon talking about the debates as a (not very reliable) form of vetting the candidates.

The history of this is important, I think. I tend to believe that media vetting as a consequence of the sequential nomination process is a reasonably effective solution to a real problem, which has to do (as I talk about in that piece) with the tremendous expansion of the number of legitimate party actors. I'll be interested in whether the more historically-minded commenters here agree with my reading of that. The problem, however, is that substituting a string of a dozen or two dozen debates for the sequential system is unlikely to work as well. That's not entirely what Republicans have done, but one could argue that they're going down that path.

At any rate, one more debate tonight, and then it's almost over: nothing scheduled for a few weeks, and only a handful of scheduled debates remaining, with no guarantee that any more will actually take place if Romney wins big on Tuesday in Florida. You can be sure that CNN will do what they can to bring on the fireworks tonight...I'll be tweeting as usual, and then I'll post a wrap over at Greg's place, and perhaps more here if there's something to add.

1 comment:

  1. I'm not convinced yet that the voters have any real control over the process anyway. Romney had the money behind him and the party actors, and he's going to win.

    For the debates to actually be important, rather than being a television show, you have to indulge the fiction that the primary system is an actual bottom-up process where the candidate chosen by the Republican electorate wins the nomination. If that's really what happens, then yes, the debates would be important. But if what is really happening is that the party insiders still choose the nominee, just like it always has been, and the primaries are just window dressing, just like they have always been, then the debates are just part of the window dressing.

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