So everyone with a blog or a newspaper is writing about the “debate” held tonight by the Democratic candidates for their party’s nomination for President. But I’m not. I didn’t watch it. Sure, I was at work while it was going on, and could not have done so. But I have been home for several of them, and proudly ignored them. Because the “debates” are a sham, about little of substance, and won’t make much of a difference anyway.
We can all remember the vast attention paid to the Presidential debates in 2004, as well as many of them previous. But the “victories” of Kerry over Bush in the debates then did not matter, and no matter how much we venerate the “You, sir, are no Jack Kennedy” moments of debates, debate results don’t matter much, except for in a single area. The Swift Boat ads trumped whatever success from the debates Kerry had.
The only way that debates matter, particularly in the primaries, is that it can help determine not who any of us will vote for, but who gets major financial supporters. Because you can blow it by having a terrible debate performance, and the money will not go to a candidate who has blown it. And you can maybe pick up some money from a surprisingly strong debate showing; Mike Huckabee has finally seen an uptick in donations after repeated “strong” performances in the eyes of the press.