Let me tell you what the New York Times won’t tell you, as part of this epic exercise in concern-trolling:
Many Republicans laboring to improve the party’s image recoil from the prospect that whatever debate-eligibility criteria are adopted could result in the barring of the only woman, Carly Fiorina, the former Hewlett-Packard chief executive, or Ben Carson, a retired neurosurgeon who is the only African-American candidate.
But could Republicans include Ms. Fiorina and Mr. Carson while keeping out such low-polling candidates as Gov. John R. Kasich of Ohio, [mc_name name=’Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’G000359′ ] of South Carolina, former Gov. Rick Perry of Texas or even Donald Trump?
…which is that it does not matter what the criteria are. Somebody in the GOP will end up getting upset that their favorite candidate did not make the cut. We can: try to make things ‘fair;’ pretend that there’s no situation here at all; or simply accept that Life Is Not Fair, and move on. Making things ‘fair’ will bog us down, and not work anyway. Pretending will just breed hidden resentment, and not work anyway. Accepting that Life Is Not Fair? …Well, you still get the resentment, but it’s out in the open and at least there’s forward motion involved.
The bottom line is: we should have no more than five people on the stage at any given time. How we get to that point is fluid. I don’t care if the process is ‘fair.’ What I do care about is whether the process rewards candidate traits which are useful; i.e., traits that the candidate can use to win an election. Because this is actually what the process is supposed to be about. We don’t need a micrometer and a set of tables to tell us whether [Republican candidate] would be a better candidate than [Democratic candidate]; we know that already*. It is baked into the cake. The entire point of the debate process is to see which one of the candidates looks and sounds best – and, trust me: we are going to need somebody who can communicate with people. Thanks largely to the current President, we – as in the country – are going to need that somebody rather badly.
So. Polling, number of signatories, money raised, random drawing, buy a seat at the debating table, metal chair match in an arena… pick one or more of these methods; but for goodness sake, don’t stuff the debate stage. Five is a nice number: not so many as to make the whole thing look ridiculous; and not so few as to give the Democrats any one convenient target to shoot at. Besides, with five you can color code the debaters, and the media just loves to play with computer graphics and graphs and whatnot. Makes ’em feel all special inside.
Moe Lane (crosspost)
PS: Life Is Not Fair.
*If you do not know that already, please feel free to skip this Presidential election.