Ever since the last Republican debate, on October 28, that’s all we’ve heard from GOP candidates: nonstop weeping and gnashing of teeth about the tough questions they faced in all three debates, but especially by moderators from CNBC. Such hostile questions prove, they claim, that debate moderators — representatives of the hated ‘liberal media’ — had only one goal: to make Republicans look bad, and Democrats look good.
Oh, stop whining! Let’s remember, first of all, that Republican primary debates are following a playbook written by the Republican National Committee. After suffering through 22 primary debates in 2011 and 2012, it was Chairman Reince Priebus himself who dictated how many debates would be held in 2016 (11), where they would be held, what month they would begin and which networks would host them. In other words, they created their own mess — and now they’re complaining about it.
On Sunday evening, November 1, candidate representatives met in Alexandria, Virginia, to hammer out a list of demands, which included: candidates be given a minimum 30 seconds for opening and closing statements; each candidate would be asked the same number of questions; and candidates would have veto power over on-screen graphics shown by the network to describe their biographical information. But that deal soon fell apart when Donald Trump, Chris Christie, Carly Fiorina, John Kasich and Ted Cruz refused to sign it.
But, seriously, did you ever see such a big bunch of crybabies? What gets lost in all the fuss over the debates is what their purpose is in the first place. Debates are a chance for the voter to learn where the candidates stand on the issues, where they differ from each other and, perhaps most importantly, how good they are on their feet.
So, in the end, unable to explain or defend their policies, they did what Spiro Agnew, Pat Buchanan, Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich did before them: Attack the ‘liberal media,’ which always gets applause, but also makes them look weak. After all, if they can’t stand up to Anderson Cooper, how are they ever going to stand up to Vladimir Putin?