Thursday, December 13, 2007

Iowa caucus debates: Adventures in Snoozeville

Left: Alan Keyes, from Race 4 2008.

Will someone tell me why Alan Keyes was allowed to participate in the Iowa caucus Republican debate, but Dennis Kucinich was not permitted to participate in the Democratic debate? Certainly, their numbers are about equal; Kucinich might even have a larger percentage than Keyes. True, they are both way out on the wings of their party, but so what?

Am I to understand that the Republicans are more inclusive than the Democrats?

Nope, according to The Campaign Spot at right-wing National Review Online, it's all the Des Moines Register's fault:

Des Moines Register Weeds Out Only the Democratic Fringe

Dennis Kucinich and Mike Gravel are not participating in this week's Des Moines Register debate. The newspaper's standards for participation include at least 1% in its statewide poll and an office and paid staff in Iowa.

Kucinich's state office works out of his home. Yeah, that's why they're keeping Smeagol out.

Alan Keyes is participating. Alan Keyes has paid staff in Iowa? He has an office? He's past 1 percent?

There's no good reason for Keyes to participate, and I say that as a guy who likes Keyes. The only reason one would include Keyes at this point is because he's just about guaranteed to declare the rest of the field "inauthentic conservatives." (Perhaps he'll declare Vice President Cheney's daughter a "selfish hedonist" as well.) The one percent standard is way too low. We've had nine Republican debates so far, and fifteen Democratic ones. If you haven't broken out past the margin of error by now, it's not gonna happen.

A debate time that already gives about one-eighth to Duncan Hunter and Tom Tancredo is now going to be split nine ways. This is a disservice to the other candidates who actually have a shot of getting more than an asterisk's worth in the caucuses.

In a year of lousy debates, this one is set up to be a train wreck on par with CNN's YouTube debate for the Republicans.
I'll say. It was terrible. Even worse, it was boring. I'll admit, Alan Keyes isn't boring, as Kucinich wouldn't be either. As usual, Ron Paul tried to liven up the proceedings, but when the other candidates started yammering, it lapsed back to somnambulism.

Alan Keyes would make a great Shakespearean actor, with his rhetorical flourishes and first-class command of language; indeed, it would seem talk radio was made for him. (And he has had several radio and TV shows.) Instead, for some inexplicable reason, he keeps running for president over and over. It is interesting to remember that he was a hired gun for the GOP, and moved to Illinois simply to run for the Senate in 2004 against Barack Obama, whom it was thought no one could beat. And alas, no one could.

Photo of Senator Barack Obama and Oprah Winfrey (left) from Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

The Democratic debate wasn't much better. The CNN-talking-heads consensus is that Senator Hillary Clinton is now trying to "humanize" herself with references to weight loss, Chelsea, her mother, "eating her way across Iowa," etc. Her poll numbers have dropped alarmingly in the face of Barack Obama's incursions, courtesy of Oprah Winfrey joining him on the campaign trail, and filling Williams-Brice stadium here in South Carolina. (The last person I can remember doing that was Pope John Paul II.)

For his part, Senator John Edwards sounded great and highly focused, as Hillary and Obama took veiled digs at each other. There is also a mild scandal trying mightily to develop: it appears Obama may have taken a toke as a teenager. OMG! (I doubt this story will go anywhere, but you never know about things like that.)

Who will take the Iowa caucus? Stay tuned, sports fans!

Listening to: Sleater-Kinney - Off With Your Head
via FoxyTunes


CrackerLilo said...

I wish someone had asked Alan Keyes, while he was there, how he slept at night after throwing his lesbian daughter under the bus.

You are, of course, right about the blatant unfairness of Keyes being allowed in and Kucinich being kicked out.

I'm glad Oprah's campaigning for Obama is paying off, and I'm sure most baby boomers (and subsequent generations) don't want that finger pointed back at *them*!

DaisyDeadhead said...

I didn't get the "selfish hedonist" remark, so thanks for explaining that! I had no idea!

I remember the mosh pit incident, on Michael Moore's old cable TV show. It was pretty amazing!

Carla said...

if Keyes has 1% in Iowa, then perhaps its time to test the air and water quality because supporting Keyes is akin to brain damage.

Seriously. And people think Kucinich is fringe? Compared to Keyes, Kucinich is like the most rational person on earth.

Compassioninpolitics said...

Agreed Kucinich should have been at the Dem debate if Keyes was at the GOP debate.

And the debate was snoozeville. I don't think it is intrinsic to public television. On the contrary, I believe the host, the format, and the time played heavily in the bloated dull-factor.