Tonight Fox News will air a very, very early debate in the 2016 presidential race featuring the GOP’s ridiculously bloated slate of candidates.
I’m not even going to watch, for two specific reasons.
First, I don’t think this debate matters. Unless some candidate shows up drunk and streaks the stage, or accidentally commits an act of racism a la Kelly Osbourne, I’m not sure any of them are going to do anything tonight to change the trajectory of their campaigns. And if something like that happens, I can find out about it tomorrow.
[mks_pullquote align=”right” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#ffffff” txt_color=”#000000″]This isn’t an act of journalism taking place tonight. This debate will not leave the public better informed about these candidates. This is entertainment. This is political Hollywood Squares.[/mks_pullquote]
I mean, there’s going to be ten candidates on the stage. Once you get past the introductions and the questions from the moderators, how many minutes is each candidate even going to get to speak?
Second, I don’t think tonight’s debate is about informing the public. This isn’t an act of journalism taking place tonight. This debate will not leave the public better informed about these candidates. This is entertainment. This is political Hollywood Squares.
Already we have a reality show television star – Donald Trump – leading the GOP field in the polls. Meanwhile marginal but more serious contenders like Governor Bobby Jindal and Carly Fiorina are forced to bow and scrape before the social media gods for attention, each appearing in absurd viral video set ups I’m sure they thought would help raise their stature in this crowded race but really just makes them look sad and desperate.
This growing branding of politics-as-entertainment is not something I wish to feed into.
I’m sure tonight’s debate will be a ratings boon for Fox News. It’s also going to be pretty embarrassing for Republicans, I think. Ratings are what’s driving this nonsense. Maybe if enough people like me tune out the ratings won’t be worth the circus.
I’ll start to tune in once pretenders like Trump are out of the field and we can start getting serious. In the mean time, the Red Sox are in the Bronx playing the Yankees tonight, and I’d rather watch that.
Meanwhile, speaking of Trump:
Former president Bill Clinton had a private telephone conversation in late spring with Donald Trump at the same time that the billionaire investor and reality-television star was nearing a decision to run for the White House, according to associates of both men.
Four Trump allies and one Clinton associate familiar with the exchange said that Clinton encouraged Trump’s efforts to play a larger role in the Republican Party and offered his own views of the political landscape.
Given how successful Trump has been in diminishing public support for Republicans, and Trump’s past financial support for the Clintons, one is almost tempted to suggest his candidacy has been one big trolling of conservatives.