A Better Debate Template: July Madness

 

38557_lotto-madness1This is my first post, so be nice. On the other hand, the screen name is no joke; I’ve been around since the first podcast, months before the site was even launched. I had planned to wait until I retire in a few months before joining, and frankly I was hoping that Rob would get to the point of kneeling, sobbing, and just pleading for people to join. But now I have stuff on my mind …

As I assume everyone knows, the RNC is planning a greatly reduced debate schedule for the 2016 election cycle. The party believes (and without question, many agree) that the large number of debates hurt them in 2012. The committee apparently thought it unwise to give the candidates that many opportunities to say something stupid and waste a lot of valuable campaign time.

On the other hand, many of us (including me) loved having a debate every few days. For political junkies, it was like football season, and there was always another game coming up. For us oddballs, the idea that the schedule will be limited to just three or four debates is a huge disappointment.

There is also the logistics. Republicans are likely to have between 12 and 16 candidates in the running by the time the debates roll around. The opening and closing statements alone could consume more than half of a two-hour debate, leaving time for a bare handful of questions in between. Not the best way to get a good feel for their positions.

Having heard the number “16” on several occasions, and having just lived through another March Madness madness, I had the idea that maybe it would be better to have a modified playoff system. Call it July Madness.

Divide the candidates randomly into four groups. They could get a pretty girl with a ping-pong ball machine, or Reince Priebus could pick names out of a hat. Then hold a debate for each group, one at a time. After the first round, reshuffle the remaining candidates for the next round. Continue as needed, consolidating the number of groups as candidates withdraw, until the last couple of debates among the three or four candidates left after the initial primaries. With only a few candidates in each debate, the viewer would get a real peek-under-the-hood, kick-the-tires look. A chance to really hear what they have to say on a variety of subjects, which is especially important given that several of the candidates aren’t terribly well-known. The schedule won’t be a burden for them–just a debate every month or so. And it limits their exposure in the saying-something-stupid arena.

Plus, best of all, I’ll get at least a dozen debates out of it. Have Fox News host them all: Why let news organizations that work actively to elect Democrats host Republican debates? My panel of choice would be Megyn Kelly, Neil Cavuto, and Greg Gutfeld for the whole series. Megyn Kelly has a solid reputation for asking tough questions. I like Cavuto’s take on business and the economy. And although Gutfeld approaches things in a humorous manner, he’ll ask serious questions in an off-the-wall way, and I want to see how the candidates react to off-the-wall. I want to see if they have a sense of humor, as it tends to be a great indicator of intelligence and flexibility.

So, what do you think? Am I the next chairman of the RNC, or just another lone nut?

Tags: , ,

There are 34 comments.

Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.
  1. user_517406 Inactive
    user_517406
    @MerinaSmith

    I’d make Hugh Hewitt one of the panel of questioners.  But I do like the idea.  They should ask the same questions so that every candidate gets a shot at the same issues.

    • #1
  2. Mendel Inactive
    Mendel
    @Mendel

    Great first post!

    I agree that the plan to reduce the number of debates based on the experience of the last election cycle is folly. It’s akin to the losing strategy of fighting the last war: in 2012, the problem was not too many debates, it was the poor quality of the candidates which was exacerbated by giving them so much camera time.

    With the quality of the field currently shaping up, the push should be to give them more free air time, not less – both the help judiciously winnow the field, but also to allow the public to hear conservative positions voiced by talented champions.

    I like the tournament-style idea. Even if the candidates didn’t drop out after each round, it would be a much more efficient use of time than the circus-like gang debates in which each candidate is fighting to get in one sound-bite zinger before their time is up.

    However, July is to early – the people the debates should be reaching will have other priorities. Late fall might be better.

    • #2
  3. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @JudgeMental

    Merina Smith

    I’d make Hugh Hewitt one of the panel of questioners.  But I do like the idea.  They should ask the same questions so that every candidate gets a shot at the same issues.

    Hugh would be a good choice.  What do they call him, relentlessly amiable?  Amiably relentless?

    • #3
  4. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @JudgeMental

    Mendel

    However, July is to early – the people the debates should be reaching will have other priorities. Late fall might be better.

    Good point, you would want them to extend into at least the early primaries.  But I do want to make sure there is time for the dynamic to play out.

    Sorry about the html tags… I foolishly put them in and now can’t seem to edit them out.

    • #4
  5. kelsurprise Member
    kelsurprise
    @kelsurprise

    I’m on my way out the door – – will read full post on the train.   I just wanted to say your handle literally made me laugh out loud.

    • #5
  6. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @JudgeMental

    kelsurprise:I’m on my way out the door – – will read full post on the train. I just wanted to say your handle literally made me laugh out loud.

    Thank you… but to be fair, I did have 5 years to think of it.

    • #6
  7. user_1065645 Contributor
    user_1065645
    @DaveSussman

    Creepy Lurker: Rinso Prius (sp?)

    I just spit up my refreshing caddy cooler all over my keyboard.

    • #7
  8. DocJay Inactive
    DocJay
    @DocJay

    Have fun here and post more.

    There’s no reason to cede control of the debates to enemies of conservatism.

    • #8
  9. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @JudgeMental

    DocJay:Have fun here and post more.

    There’s no reason to cede control of the debates to enemies of conservatism.

    Thanks Doc, and I couldn’t agree more.

    • #9
  10. kelsurprise Member
    kelsurprise
    @kelsurprise

    Creepy Lurker:

    kelsurprise:I’m on my way out the door – – will read full post on the train. I just wanted to say your handle literally made me laugh out loud.

    Thank you… but to be fair, I did have 5 years to think of it.

    I’m back.  And I love this idea.   I’d put Brett Baier in my moderator pool of hopefuls too – and keep O’Reilly far away.  (Otherwise, even with only four candidates on stage, it’d be just like having a 16-person debate again, with Bill playing the other 12.)

    • #10
  11. Mark Belling Fan Member
    Mark Belling Fan
    @MBF

    Anyone below 2.0% in an average of predetermined national polls should be relegated to “play in” debates. Perform well there and earn your way into the real dance.

    • #11
  12. CuriousKevmo Member
    CuriousKevmo
    @CuriousKevmo

    They could get a pretty girl with a ping-pong ball machine, or Reince Priebus could pick names out of a hat

    I know which way I’m voting.

    • #12
  13. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Great idea. You’d get my vote for RNC chair, if I had one.

    • #13
  14. GLDIII Reagan
    GLDIII
    @GLDIII

    Creepy Lurker said:

    So, what do you think? Am I the next chairman of the RNC, or just another lone nut?

    Are these my only choices?  Great first post.

    As for debates between the candidates, is debating really a skill set that should be a deciding factor in choosing our chief executive? Given that fast talkers are not always great doers, and the embarrassment of riches this time around in the Republican field, I find myself wanting to dismiss anyone but the governors with verifiable track records.

    I can give a little to perhaps Rubio since he was in charge of herding the cats in the Florida legislature for a few years with a opposing party Governor, but most of the other non gubernatorial candidates resumes make me feel they will flounder (like the current smooth talker) when it’s time to make the sausage.

    Then again as a resident of Maryland my position on these matters is irrelevant to the primary process, except for those surveys they keep mailing me….

    • #14
  15. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @JudgeMental

    MBF:Anyone below 2.0% in an average of predetermined national polls should be relegated to “play in” debates. Perform well there and earn your way into the real dance.

    After the first round I would agree.  But part of the hope is that everyone gets a chance to hear from everyone, so I would do the cattle call on the first round.

    • #15
  16. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @JudgeMental

    kelsurprise:

    Creepy Lurker:

    kelsurprise:I’m on my way out the door – – will read full post on the train. I just wanted to say your handle literally made me laugh out loud.

    Thank you… but to be fair, I did have 5 years to think of it.

    I’m back. And I love this idea. I’d put Brett Baier in my moderator pool of hopefuls too – and keep O’Reilly far away. (Otherwise, even with only four candidates on stage, it’d be just like having a 16-person debate again, with Bill playing the other 12.)

    Anything but Bill.

    • #16
  17. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @JudgeMental

    GLDIII:Creepy Lurker said:

    Are these my only choices? Great first post.

    As for debates between the candidates, is debating really a skill set that should be a deciding factor in choosing our chief executive? Given that fast talkers are not always great doers, and the embarrassment of riches this time around in the Republican field, I find myself wanting to dismiss anyone but the governors with verifiable track records.

    I can give a little to perhaps Rubio since he was in charge of herding the cats in the Florida legislature for a few years with a opposing party Governor, but most of the other non gubernatorial candidates resumes make me feel they will flounder (like the current smooth talker) when it’s time to make the sausage.

    Then again as a resident of Maryland my position on these matters is irrelevant to the primary process, except for those surveys they keep mailing me….

    As for the skill set part, I agree in principle, but the situation is what it is.

    And I’ve voted in 5 states now (all legally), and I have never had a chance to make a difference in a nomination.

    • #17
  18. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @JudgeMental

    Woke up and I’m on the main feed.

    Top of the world, Ma!!

    • #18
  19. user_86050 Inactive
    user_86050
    @KCMulville

    Great conversation starter – good job.

    I have a good-bad reaction. It’s a good idea, in that the American public is already accustomed to the play-in tournament formula, not only with sports but also now the American Idol, Voice, DWTS model.

    The bad part of the idea is based on the same model. Unlike sports, which give you a tangible score, the American Idol, Voice, DWTS model is subjective to an exaggerated degree. It’s like waiting to hear the scores from the Russian judges at the figure skating in the Olympics. 

    Most of the qualifications are based on polling, and polling is based on name recognition … and that’s easily manipulated by the media.

    So, I like part of the idea, but we’d have to be careful how it’d be implemented.

    Besides, on the Democrat side, I’d tie the qualifications to the number of felony and ethical inquiries against the candidates. More than 2, and the candidate must be excluded.

    • #19
  20. GLDIII Reagan
    GLDIII
    @GLDIII

    KC Mulville:

    Besides, on the Democrat side, I’d tie the qualifications to the number of felony and ethical inquiries against the candidates. More than 2, and the candidate must be excluded.

    KC

    Felonies? I believe for their constituents it is a plus (Marion Barry, the last couple of Execs for Prince Georges county,  the last few Governors of Illinois) All Democrat strongholds.

    • #20
  21. user_86050 Inactive
    user_86050
    @KCMulville

    GLDIII:

    Felonies? I believe for their constituents it is a plus (Marion Barry, the last couple of Execs for Prince Georges county, the last few Governors of Illinois) All Democrat strongholds.

    You’re right. I’m going to have to be flexible on the level of criminality.

    • #21
  22. TG Thatcher
    TG
    @TG

    KC Mulville said:  “… I’d tie the qualifications to the number of felony and ethical inquiries against the candidates.”

    Unless we could *actually* limit that rule to use on Democrats, it’s much too easily abused.  Because starting inquiries is “easy.”

    • #22
  23. Jame Hall Inactive
    Jame Hall
    @UniverseHall

    There is also the logistics. Republicans are likely to have between 12 and 16 candidates in the running by the time the debates roll around.

    You know, the one thing I’ll give to the Democrats is that they seem to have no trouble picking a candidate and running with them, so that you know probably three years in advance who to vote for (or against, as the case may be). It doesn’t matter if he or she says horrible things, gets caught in enormous lies or wraps themselves in scandal — it seems like once the Dems have made up their minds about the nomination, the discussion is closed. I mean, in spite of all the ridiculous stuff that’s gone down — Hills is still the only Democrat on the plate. They don’t have a backup plan! Seriously, what would she have to do NOT to get nominated at this point? Kick a puppy while doing coke off a baby’s corpse on live television?

    • #23
  24. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    I realize that a lot of y’all want to dismiss the other Democratic candidates and say Hillary is it, but isn’t that what people were saying in about 2006? There are other Democratic candidates: declared, exploring, and suspects. Y’all shouldn’t figure she has this in the bag, just like she did back for 2008.

    • #24
  25. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @JudgeMental

    UniverseHall:You know, the one thing I’ll give to the Democrats is that they seem to have no trouble picking a candidate and running with them, so that you know probably three years in advance who to vote for (or against, as the case may be). It doesn’t matter if he or she says horrible things, gets caught in enormous lies or wraps themselves in scandal — it seems like once the Dems have made up their minds about the nomination, the discussion is closed. I mean, in spite of all the ridiculous stuff that’s gone down — Hills is still the only Democrat on the plate. They don’t have a backup plan! Seriously, what would she have to do NOT to get nominated at this point? Kick a puppy while doing coke off a baby’s corpse on live television?

    Better throw in a racial slur.

    Or maybe a gay puppy?

    • #25
  26. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @

    If you are going to make it tournament style, make it a real tournament (the following assumes 16 candidates – if there are more, do a play in).  Rank them according to poll number, each of the four groups receives one of the top four (they are the number one seed).  Do the same with each set of four candidates.  Have people who are registered republicans vote online for who won the debate.  The winner moves on to the next round.  Or, add a survivor element.  After the first debate, you vote one candidate out.  They are not in any more debates.  Or maybe you have to win/lose twice before your fate is decided.

    • #26
  27. user_138562 Moderator
    user_138562
    @RandyWeivoda

    I like this idea.  There’s no way to let each candidate speak about anything serious when you’ve got a dozen people on stage at once.  Regarding Bill O’Reilly, I agree with not having him as a moderator.  We don’t need a five-minute plug on Killing Rasputin or whatever his next book will be.

    • #27
  28. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @

    Great idea generally but I  would place not so much trust in one news outlet as the questioners. Fox has an agenda and already has too much influence on the GOP primary being one of the main places those on the right turn for news and analysis. Fox is pretty much establishment corporatitst Republican, and they tend to like the establishment types and go hard at insurgents.

    Fox’s  Chris Wallace  attacked Gingrich unfairly and I have no doubt they will go after Rand Paul the same way, even if some of us don’t like Paul, some of us also don’t like Jeb. Fox is quite amenable to the Jebster. He flies right down their runway.

    • #28
  29. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    How about Rush as a moderator?

    • #29
  30. user_138562 Moderator
    user_138562
    @RandyWeivoda

    I want to see moderators who can set aside who they like and don’t like and be an impartial questioner.  I think George Will could do this well.

    • #30
Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.

Comments are closed because this post is more than six months old. Please write a new post if you would like to continue this conversation.