I take issue with Don Surber’s recent piece, titled “Debates work.”:

The much-maligned mainstream media is doing its job and that is helping Republicans get their message out, while at the same time ridding the party of its losers quickly. Better to have a Rick Perry brain-freeze in a debate in the fall of 2011 as a candidate than a year later as the nominee. His huge war chest cannot by enough airtime to erase the feeling that he is dumb as an ox, although much better looking.

At the other end of the debate table, those twin Georgia peaches — Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich — have used the debates to elevate their profiles and (gasp) draw support support from voters.  [...] The situation is fluid, but Republicans benefit from marketplace economics, which place a premium on these debates. CNN quadrupled its regular ratings with its last debate. That surely whets its appetite for more debates.

Republicans should oblige.

So, I take Surber’s endorsement to be this: hey, the debates strongly change the standings in the GOP and make it so that the primary doesn’t boil down to a money game.

Point taken. Ideas and character should dictate who is the nominee (in theory, anyway) and giving a platform to all the candidates with a certain standing makes sense. I don’t think too many people would disagree with this. However, it doesn’t seem that this is what the debates have really done.

I’m in theDan Henninger School of  Debate Skepticism: 

After watching umpteen debates, it looks as if the Republican Party may choose someone to run for the presidency of the United States based on who can explain the world and all its troubles in 30 seconds.

The TV debates create buzz and interest, and that’s good. But most people don’t eat seven appetizers and call it a meal. The debates are producing half-baked versions of candidates running for the presidency.

Did I say candidates? I misspoke. The U.S. has a long tradition of fringe candidates like Dennis Kucinich or Ron Paul, but no previous system forced us to endure them once the laughing stopped. [...] Michael Vick went to prison for staging dog fights. With the U.S. presidency, it’s legal and even encouraged. So we get Rick Perry accusing Mitt Romney of hiring “illegal gardeners.” Mr. Romney, you have 30 seconds to respond. And that gives me 30 more seconds with the Florida International game.

Precisely. The distinctions I can make between candidates after each debate amount to catchy bumper sticker-type slogans and comparisons to school bullies.

I have personally met some of the candidates for the GOP nomination and they have one thing in common; there’s more than a few catch phrases and insults to their vision. It’s hard to tell this in the world of 140-characters  and 30-second bits. That’s not a good thing.