Commentary Magazine


Contentions

What if the Republicans Held a Debate and Nobody Watched?

The Republican presidential debate at the Reagan Library in California was scheduled months ago for next Wednesday night. But that didn’t stop the White House from deciding to have President Obama address a joint session of Congress on his economic plan on that very same night. The GOP may grumble, but White House Press Secretary Jay Carney dismissed their complaint about the high-handed manner in which the White House relegated a much anticipated gathering of contenders to a secondary news event: “One debate of many was not reason not to have a speech when we wanted to have it.”

In a sense, Carney’s right. The Reagan Library event is just one GOP debate among many. But as the first such forum since Perry entered the Republican race, it was viewed as a chance for the country to take its first good long look at Perry in this context. It was an opportunity for Perry to make a good first impression for many viewers, but it was even more crucial for his challengers. Since Perry has vaulted to an enormous lead in the polls, the California debate was a chance for Mitt Romney and Michele Bachmann, the two candidates whose hopes have suffered the most since Perry’s entry, to score points at their rival’s expense. If Perry falters badly at the debate it might erase his lead as quickly as it was built. But will any of this matter if nobody is watching?

For political junkies, the only answer will be a DVR alert, because Obama’s speech is must-watch TV whether you support his policies or not. Though it is far from clear the president has any real new ideas that will justify the august setting for a routine policy speech, there’s no question Obama’s address will outdraw the GOP debate by a huge margin.

This means Perry’s debate debut will have a vastly smaller audience than originally anticipated. This may disappoint Perry’s fans, but given the fact he has a huge lead, it won’t hurt his campaign. Though it’s way too early to think about running out the clock, with a double-digit margin of error, the Perry campaign has to hope scheduling difficulties equally diminish all subsequent debates.



Join the discussion…

Are you a subscriber? Log in to comment »

Not a subscriber? Join the discussion today, subscribe to Commentary »





Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor to our site, you are allowed 8 free articles this month.
This is your first of 8 free articles.

If you are already a digital subscriber, log in here »

Print subscriber? For free access to the website and iPad, register here »

To subscribe, click here to see our subscription offers »

Please note this is an advertisement skip this ad
Clearly, you have a passion for ideas.
Subscribe today for unlimited digital access to the publication that shapes the minds of the people who shape our world.
Get for just
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor, you are allowed 8 free articles.
This is your first article.
You have read of 8 free articles this month.
YOU HAVE READ 8 OF 8
FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
for full access to
CommentaryMagazine.com
INCLUDES FULL ACCESS TO:
Digital subscriber?
Print subscriber? Get free access »
Call to subscribe: 1-800-829-6270
You can also subscribe
on your computer at
CommentaryMagazine.com.
LOG IN WITH YOUR
COMMENTARY MAGAZINE ID
Don't have a CommentaryMagazine.com log in?
CREATE A COMMENTARY
LOG IN ID
Enter you email address and password below. A confirmation email will be sent to the email address that you provide.