The GOP’s Debate Dysfunction Is A Mirror Image Of Their Governing Dysfunction

Anyone who is surprised by the clumsy efforts of Republicans to try to manage their circus of a primary hasn’t been watching what they have been doing in Congress for the past several years. Their legislative record is by far the least productive in modern times with both the fewest bills passed and the fewest hours in session. They have developed a reputation as ineffective, incompetent, and obstructionist, even failing to pass their own bills.

GOP Debate

The recent calamity surrounding their election of a new Speaker, following the wingnut driven exile of John Boehner, didn’t do much to enhance their reputation. They eventually settled for Paul Ryan, who doesn’t want the job and is despised and distrusted by their right wing “Freedom” caucus. What the Tea Party has wrought for the GOP is The Congress That Can’t Govern Straight. And not surprisingly, the resounding chaos and absence of leadership that is emblematic of the GOP’s congressional majority is precisely what is being seen in their response to what they regard as a poor debate performance.

Following the debacle at CNBC, the candidates attempted to band together to insist that reforms be made in order to avoid the messy affair that took place last week. They resolved to produce a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that would include a list of demands to present to the media organizations that produce and broadcast the debates. But as soon as it began the edges started to fray leading to a complete collapse. Within days the congregation of candidates fell apart. Donald Trump, Ben Carson, and John Kasich have said that they will not sign on to the draft MOU. Carly Fiorina didn’t even send a representative to the meeting. Chris Christie called out his rivals for complaining and boasted that all he needs is a stage and a podium (a line that Trump later stole, after he had already done his share of whining). Consequently, the group’s MOU appear’s to be a non-starter.

The whole process, however, was a catastrophe resulting in a set of criteria that was in no way different than what was already being done. In other words, it was a lot of frantic bluster that changed nothing. If you compare their demands to the debate agreement drawn up between the campaigns of Barack Obama and Mitt Romney in 2012, you are not going to find much difference. What’s more, nothing in the MOU would have prevented any of the things that occurred during the CNBC debate to which they so fiercely objected. So what’s the point?

Some of the candidates had suggestions for reform that never made it into the MOU. Ted Cruz expressed his desire to see the debate moderators limited to registered Republicans like Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Mark Levin. Because these respected journalists would bring a air of dignity and rationality to the debate. Ben Carson floated the idea of not broadcasting the debates on TV. He also lobbied for a two hour time limit with all 15 candidates in the same debate. Each would get a five minute opening and closing statement. Of course that would take two and a half hours.

Clearly these people cannot be taken seriously. It is unlikely that they even intended to pursue these debate negotiations. All they really wanted was an opportunity to bitch about the media, an easy target and a reliable applause line. But it wasn’t the media in general, just a specific subset that irks them. That would include anything in the NBC family and any network with a foreign sounding names (i.e. Telemundo). To be fair, Jeb Bush asked that Telemundo’s debate be reinstated, but Trump quickly slapped that down saying that if it was he would walk. There was one network though that got a free pass. All the parties agreed that the debate demands would not apply to Fox News because “people are afraid to make Roger [Ailes] mad.”

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

If there is one thing that is obvious about this charade, it’s that it couldn’t possibly succeed. Republicans aren’t really looking for fairness or balance in their debates. They want to turn the debate into an infomercial for the GOP. The networks could never agree to that. And with all of the infighting and conflicting priorities among the candidates it was destined to disintegrate. And like everything they have tried to do Washington, Republicans have proven once again to be bumbling fools.


13 thoughts on “The GOP’s Debate Dysfunction Is A Mirror Image Of Their Governing Dysfunction

  1. MORE bills a measure of a congress – where did that become a good thing. The last thing we need is more laws. Dysfunction in the GOP is where it needs to be while the voters in that party gradually make their voices heard and hopefully change it back to a conservative party NOT beholden to corporate america or banks. Unlike you Mark, the GOP voter isn’t a blind follower of a party or the leadership of the party – so being messy is going to be the rule for some time. After another election (yesterday) where democrats continue to lose ground nationally in states – maybe you should tend to your own house.

    • Mark, just to show you my last statement wasn’t just BS – as of yesterday, the democratic party has lost 12 governorships since 2008. Dysfunction in the GOP is without a doubt pretty serious – but coming from a complete and total devotee of the democratic party is pretty laughable. I guess a dysfunctional GOP is preferred to an extreme leftist democratic party. The people see your party and ideology as more of a threat than a messed up GOP – maybe gridlock is the desired outcome. Reality sucks doesn’t it?

      • You can’t have it both ways. It’s either that democrats didn’t go out and vote, like you have rambled on many times , on this blog. Or, all of a sudden the same people prefer the Rethuglican party more. Which is it?

        • Oh boy – here we go…I think I was clear – the people prefer the “rethuglican party” dysfunction and all. Are you going to accuse the people of each state they’ve been gerrymandered into voting “rethuglicans”? I’m just pointing out a clear trend since Barack Obama has been elected that pointing out all the sins of the republican party is nice and fun for biased people, but maybe you and your ilk should dig a bit deeper into reality. I don’t think I’ve been contradictory. You’re just frustrated at how right I am and your really pathetic arguments – which make no sense by the way – are so easily debunked. Either you’re too young to know any better or you’re just not too bright – not sure which it is. Based on your line of thinking, you may want to think about where you stand on this stuff.

          • Don’t worry, it looks like you’re getting the government you want. Let’s see what your Rethuglican’s can do with it. I’ve seen what it has done in my state. May your sky-God help us all.
            That’s right you’re not a rethuglican, you’re a cuntservative, Can’t Understand Normal Thinking

            • Someone doesn’t like the truth…you clearly haven’t been around too long – there is no sky-god in my world. And “cuntservative” – you’re very angry when your faith is being challenged. Even I don’t do that kind of name calling. And for your information – I’m not getting the government I want. The best i can say is you aren’t getting the government you want and that may be the best i can expect.

          • Who the hell is “the people”?

      • Tuesday’s results present more noise than signal. Since 1842 the President’s party has lost seats in 40 of 43 midterms — the exceptions being 1934, 1998 and 2002. (source Pew Research). The lunatic fringe is angry and voting. They are voting to express their hatred, primarily, to all things Obama. Because, Obama is coming for your gunz, because the Gays, and the Muslins, because the brown people murdering and raping and taking all the jobs and flooding over the border. “They ultimately are voting against their own self- interest, because, Rush, Beck, Hannity tell them to and they hear and obey. Does the term “Blind Follower” ring a bell? Dysfunction in the GOP is where it needs to be while the voters in that party gradually make their voices heard and hopefully change it back to a conservative party NOT beholden to corporate america or banks.” Seriously? Considering the crop of religious zealot, Tea Party, obstructionist, cream of Koch slurping clowns that the conservative base is electing in these mid-terms and are wholly represented by the current crop of GOP presidential candidates, it is more likely after the assured huge losses the GOP will suffer in 2016, they will totally implode and then, perhaps some voices of conservative reason may arise from the ashes.

        • Drawfire – you hope you are right. Conservatives are angry – but as is and has been typical here, the reasons given are wrong. Yes, there is absolutely anger at Obama and his presidency NOT because he is black but because he is liberal and against everything conservatives stand for. There is definitely a more libertarian strain of republican pushing back – but it’s the lefts (as represented here) total misunderstanding of right wing positions. I know I do the same thing to lefties here. State elections do NOT represent what is going to happen in a presidential election – but it does impact congress quite a bit and that has an impact on what gets done or not done in DC. It’s the brilliance of our political system – dictatorial rule by a president is hard to sustain (I’m not suggesting Obama is a dictator). Federal government power can be restrained as it should and the party NOT in the white house can have an impact. We’ll see where things go, but I watched enough elections to know it’s impossible to predict this early out.

  2. Those silly Republicans think that debates should focus on issues like the economy and foreign policy. Don’t they know that personal attacks make the ratings? The CNBC moderators know better; “Survivor” draws better ratings than “Charlie Rose.”

    • First of all, the questions WERE predominantly about the economy. Read the transcript. Granted, a couple of times they added framing that was unnecessarily combative, but that was the exception even though it got most of the press.

      Secondly, there is nothing in the GOP’s demands that addresses this complaint. That’s the point of this article. With regard to reforming the debates, they are either unserious or incompetent.

  3. Cruz’s urging that only registered Republicans be allowed to moderate future debates, such as Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, as it would produce an air of. . . . .! Yep, it would produce an “air” all right. One of insipid and fetid odors. The hosting hall would need heavy fumigation after. Cruz is such a joke.

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