November 21, 2007

Add Another Lectern To The Stage

The next Republican debate in Iowa promises something new, different, and controversial -- Alan Keyes. The Des Moines Register decided that the one thing these debates lacked are fringe candidates with microscopic constituencies and invited Keyes to attend the December 12th afternoon affair:

Republican presidential candidate Alan Keyes has accepted an invitation to participate in the last scheduled — and in some ways most important — Republican debate before the Jan. 3 first-in-the-nation Iowa Caucus.

The Des Moines Register's Republican Presidential Debate is scheduled for 1:00 pm on Dec. 12 at Iowa Public Television's Maytag Auditorium in Johnston, Iowa.

At last report, all major Republican candidates except former NY mayor Rudy Giuliani have also accepted the invitation to participate.

The Des Moines Register has a reputation for putting on fair and informative events. Their debates have become an Iowa tradition that reporters and editors from across the nation take seriously.

This should prove entertaining, if nothing else. Keyes may be the best orator in American politics today. He has consummate speaking skills, reminiscent of 19th-century style politicians who didn't use PR firms and spokespeople to "message" the electorate. Keyes manages to speak expertly on his own behalf.

However, the message and the candidate being the same may not benefit Keyes to any great extent. He has already referred to two of his colleagues on the podium as "devils" (Romney and Giuliani) at the CLC event in October. While Republicans will have sympathy for the thrust of his message -- as they do with Ron Paul -- Keye's over-the-top extremist bent will not have many thankful for his presence in a nationally-televised debate.

Most of us hoped that the debates would slowly narrow down to the top four or five candidates, perhaps even smaller than that. The inclusion of so many candidates on the stage only forces the quiz-show nature of the so-called debates to be even more superficial and prone to "gotcha" moments. Adding Keyes rather than subtracting several other candidates will make this debate in the final hours of the pre-primary campaign even more useless in determining which candidate to support.

CORRECTION: The proper term in the title is "lectern", not "podium". Thanks to Larry in the comments for the reminder.


TrackBack URL for this entry: