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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Why The Frustration?

Yesterday I read a lot of blog and newspaper entries on the Democratic debate from last week. The biggest sense from all of them was frustration. While on the surface it seemed to be aimed at the questions and questioners, below the surface it is more likely aimed at the process that brought about this debate.

One of the more common lines was that McCain wasn't going to face such a debate between now and the convention. There wouldn't be a Gibson to ask him about his famous temper, since he doesn't have to do any more debating.

But that's not because he was the only candidate. Hell, six months ago John McCain was consider a DOA candidate. But the GOP primary system allowed him to sew up the nomination early, and concentrate on the broad picture. The Democrats, on the other hand, have developed a "fair" primary system, that has tied their party in knots. Today won't help, Hillary will win the primary in another big, "must win" state, and still not be the leader in delegates. More doubt may creep in about Obama's electability.

The Democrats came up with a system that worked great in basically from 1972 to 2004. The party generally got behind one person quick enough to have a "presumptive nominee" fairly early, and they could do the big picture campaigning in spring and summer. But none of those years had two really good candidates in the party view. This time around the flaw of their convoluted system is showing. Because the system does everything proportionally (read fairly) and the candidates are evenly matched, the campaigning against each other can't stop until Denver. In Denver it could be an ugly, 1968 style floor fight. Talks of a brokered convention with an outsider as the nominee are still floating around out there.

Now, out of fairness, every state left wants a debate, because the other one's had one. The problem is, that the policy stuff has been rehashed 21 times already on a stage. So the questions start getting to character, associations, etc. Those questions are uncomfortable to the candidates, and by reading the opinions on the web, more so to their supporters. People probably need to know more about candidates slips of memory, friends like Hsu and Rezko, and Wright and Ayers. The problem is the folks who've already committed to a horse in the race don't want to hear about that horses problems anymore. They want to reiterate why they can win, not expose the flaws they have.

When the Clinton and Obama partisans are complaining about the debate, they are really complaining about the system that brought them the debate. Maybe after this year they'll decided that they need to reform it. If they lose in November you can bet that the 2012 primary season will be run differently, if they win it still should be. The beast that is "fairness" will cause the problems in the future again.

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