I think it's over for a while, the 10-candidate gang-debates. I have managed to not get a single second of any of 'em first hand. Instead I have deferred to WONKETTE's liveblogging, which has resulted in a hundred variations of the phrase "shut up old man! Shut UP!"
It's not that I'm not civic-minded. It's just that these debates are worthless. If you're interested in politics you do yourself a disservice by watching them. Here's why.
Nobody gets enough time to articulate a real position. With all those people on stage, the pressure is on to give a good slogan, look sexy doing it, and move out. Not only that, but even within those constraints.... Ron Paul has had a thing on his website called the Talk Clock, which graphs which candidate gets the most speaking time. You know who has won consistently? Wolf Blitzer.
"Raise you hands" doesn't count as debate. Strictly speaking nothing on the debates does, but this is ridiculous.
Debates force branding. I'm the anti-poverty candidate! I'm the anti-immigration candidate! This is what you walk away from with these guys when you should be learning which one is the Manchurian candidate. And you shouldn't elect someone because of their pet issue - you should elect them on their ability to balance all issues against each other.
Dennis Kucinich. Adorable and hopeless and as McSweeney's pointed out, "strong to the finich", this man will never be President, even in most alternate universes. Why is he taking time away from viable candidates like Mike Gravel? (Substitute Ron Paul and Mike Huckabee in there if you're Republican.)
Sooner or later, some Democrats will debate on Fox News. And it's just going to be awful. If Obama is on screen, they'll caption it "William Jefferson, D-LA". The set will be dark and creepy, they'll cut to a Natalee Holloway update whenever Biden makes sense, and Britt Hume will ask "raise your hands - when did you stop beating your wife?" causing nothing but perplexed looks. And they'll use the footage on the 1/2 Hour News Hour, somehow finding a way to make it even LESS funny.
The real candidates aren't participating. We all know it's going to be between Al Gore and Fred Thompson anyway, so who are these people? Potential VICE presidents, that's who.
No matter what anyone says, the winner will be decided based on charm. Or tie, or haircut. Parenthetically, Elizabeth Edwards says that John doesn't use any product in his hair, not even conditioner. With savings like that, he can afford to splurge on the cut!
It's over a year away from the election. By November '08 most of these people will be suffering from suspicious dioxin poisoning. Why bother with them now?