Frankly, We Could Use Fewer Debates

As Hillary Clinton mulls over the prospect of running for president in 2016, a couple of television networks have apparently decided that there's ratings gold in the former First Lady/Senator/Secretary of State. So, NBC is planning a miniseries on Clinton's life, and CNN is going to produce a documentary about her. One way to interpret their decisions is that Clinton is one of the key political figures of our time and a subject of enormous and ongoing fascination. Particularly if she does run, the networks will garner attention for almost any Clinton-related project. Another way to interpret it is that the liberal media is engaged in a conspiracy to get Clinton elected to the White House.

You can guess which one the Republican National Committee favors, and they aren't going to take it lying down. Party chair Reince Priebus has written a sternly worded letterto each network, saying, "many are astounded at your actions, which appear to be a major network's thinly-veiled attempt at putting a thumb on the scales of the 2016 presidential election." Since neither program has actually been written or produced yet, for all Priebus knows, both will be vicious takedowns of Clinton. But he's not kidding around: in his letter, Priebus warns that unless the programs are cancelled, the party will refuse to let the network participate in any 2016 Republican primary debates.

Horrors! Yet this could be just a handy excuse for the chairman to justify cutting the number of presidential debates in 2016. Heaven knows his party wasn't well served by the more than two dozen they held during the 2012 primaries; they were such a ridiculous clown show that they did untold harm to the party's image. Of course, that was less because of the inherent trivializing nature of televised primary debates than because the GOP candidates were, in fact, a bunch of clowns. If your candidate pool is dominated by the likes of Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Rick Perry, and Newt Gingrich, then there's almost no way to keep the party from looking foolish.

Perhaps next time around, the charismatic and well-qualified Republican candidates will thrill the public with their inspiring message and thoughtful policy proposals, and voters will rise up to demand more and more debates, leading to a white-knuckle showdown between the RNC and the networks. Or maybe it's all just bluster. We do know that Rick Santorum is considering another run, and Rick Perry may be doing the same. No word yet from Herman Cain, but we can hope.


I told somebody the ‘oops’ moment was kind of just one of those things that happens in life and I knew I was going to see it over and over again, but it wasn’t anything. I think I went back and actually slept that night.”

Rick Perry, speaking to Dan Balz


  • Henry Blodget: "I'd guess that Jeff Bezos thinks that owning the Washington Postwill be fun, interesting, and cool. And my guess is that, if that is all it ever turns out to be, Jeff Bezos will be fine with that. This is a man who invests in rockets and atomic clocks, after all. He doesn't necessarily make these investments for the money. Or bragging rights. Or strategic synergies."
  • Bob Woodward: “It’s very sad. But if there’s somebody who can succeed, it’s Bezos. He’s the innovator, he’s got the money and the patience, so we’ll see. I think in some ways, this may be the Post’s last chance to survive, at least in some form of what it was.”
  • David Carr: "The idea that Mr. Graham would sell the paper, whatever merits the sale might entail, seemed as unlikely as Henry V giving up the crown."
  • Josh Marshall: "I’ll say it: let’s celebrate Jeff Bezos purchase of the Washington Post."
  • Anonymous Washington Post reporter: This was just plain sad. Now we belong to a guy who is so rich that the paper is around one percent of his net worth. This was the family acknowledging that we can’t do it anymore, and we have to give it to someone else. And we love the Graham family, we are proud of the family.”
  • Another anonymous staffer: "It was like a funeral. People are scared."
  • Brad Stone: "Over the summer he was lifting rockets off the seabed floor. He is building a space company on his own private land in Texas. This is not someone who has ever conformed to our expectations about what wealthy people are supposed to do. It’s $250 million for a man whose wealth is staggering. He clearly believes that his management philosophy is portable. So he’s willing to take bets, whether it’s on the Kindle or on Amazon’s cloud business or expanding beyond books. So nothing he does is ultimately very surprising. Except when, of course, it suddenly is."
  • James Fallows: "So let us hope that this is what the sale signifies: the beginning of a phase in which this Gilded Age's major beneficiaries re-invest in the infrastructure of our public intelligence. We hope it marks a beginning, because we know it marks an end."


  • Is the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy the perfect model for the future of American liberalism?
  • The former New York governor and comptroller hopeful calls himself a feminist. But Melissa Gira Grant writes that the anti-prostitution measures he signed into law cast doubt on that.


  • Why was there a Flight of the Conchords video on so many congressional web sites?
  • If Ginsberg and Scalia can be friends, says the composer of the opera starring the two justices, "there's no excuse for the rest of us."
  • Obama will give a speech in Arizona laying out his proposals to improve the housing market.
  • Mitch McConnell's challenge from his right flank could make a government shutdown more likely.
  • Former President George W. Bush has successfully undergone a procedure to insert a stent after finding a blocked artery.
  • new study shows consumption of conservative media leads to less trust in climate scientists.
  • The U.S. trade deficit shrank 22.4 percent to $34.2 billion, narrowing it to the lowest level since October 2009.
  • The Progressive Campaign Change Committee is looking to crowd source debate questions for the race for Ed Markey's old House seat. 


Michelle Nunn, daughter of former Georgia Senator Sam Nunn and CEO of the nonprofit Points of Light, has entered the Senate race in Georgia as a Democrat and is so far tied with her Republican competitors, according to a poll by Public Policy Polling. The tight race is somewhat of a surprise and is due in part to the lack of a solid Republican candidate, and because Nunn is not yet well known.

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