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After a brief attempt to collectively bargain for kinder, gentler debate rules -- Republican presidential candidate workers of the world, unite! -- the whole scheme fell apart when Donald Trump uncordially invited the other candidates to suck his YOOGE gold-plated balls, because there's no "Trump" in team:

Donald Trump and his advisers have decided to work directly with television executives and take a lead role in negotiating the format and content of primary debates, which have become highly watched and crucial events in the 2016 race, according to Republicans familiar with their plans.

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Representatives from 11 weak-ass L-O-S-E-R loser campaigns had scribbled their list of debate "demands" on perfumed pastel stationery, like a bunch of commie socialist strikers demanding a 40-hour work week. Waaah, no hard questions. Waaah, no math. Waaah, no calling on Ben Carson for any reason, really.

Trump, however, the world's greatest negotiator IN THE WORLD, declared he'd shout his debate demands directly into the faces of the network executives all on his own, thanks, and the rest of the candidates quickly followed suit, declaring they also didn't need to unionize against the TV bosses on their backs:

After Trump’s decision, the campaigns of Gov. John Kasich (R-Ohio) and Gov. Chris Christie (R-N.J) confirmed that they would not sign on to the group endeavor.

“Stop complaining,” Christie said Monday morning on “Fox & Friends.” “Set up a stage, put podiums up there, and let’s just go.”

That would have been a lot more convincing if Christie's campaign hadn't complained last week that his pre-debate dressing room had a crapper in it. But at this point, Christie's got nothing to lose but his chains. His dignity is already gone, as is any chance of being the nominee.

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Carly Fiorina's campaign -- the same one that had negotiated her into the heretofore nonexistent 11th slot of CNN's top-10 debate -- declared it didn't even go to the infamous Sunday night meeting because the whole staff was busy chatting with David Brooks at Applebee's salad bar.

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Ben Carson's campaign, which does not speak for Donald Trump's campaign (that we are aware of), told the Washington Post that Trump agreed with "90 percent" of the original demands. But Trump saw no reason to include all the candidates, including the Four Bottoms of the second tier -- because he's a little bit better at math than Dr. Ben Carson is. And 14 other candidates (if you include Jim Gilmore, though really, why would you?) throwing low-energy insults in Trump's general direction means less talking time for Trump, whose voice is the only one he wants to hear during a debate anyway.

So it seems to be every man for himself, which any effective organizer can tell you is the most powerful form of negotiating. And to think, the networks didn't even have to call in Reagan heir and former candidate Scott Walker to bust the union of rabble-rousing candidates.

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The Republican National Committee, which led the candidates in an inspiring if off-key round of "Whose side are you on, my brother?" last week, now says it's fine and dandy if candidates want to "negotiate" on their own because the secret of power isn't organization so much as complete disarray:

RNC spokesman Sean Spicer, who had been overseeing the deliberations before being replaced last week, said he supports Trump and others as they negotiate directly with television executives. “These debates have always been about the candidates,” Spicer said. “The candidates will be and always should be determining the best format for them.”

One might dare to cross the line to suggest the debates are not about candidates, but about the voters. But that would make one a Democrat.

Speaking of which:

"Every one of these candidates says, 'Obama's weak, Putin's kicking sand in his face. When I talk to Putin, he's going to straighten out,'" Obama said during a democratic fundraiser in New York City.

"And then it turns out, they can't handle a bunch of CNBC moderators," he said. "If you can't handle those guys, I don't think the Chinese and the Russians are going to be too worried about you."

Also not worried? Hillary Clinton.

And to think we were concerned we'd suffer Republican Drama withdrawals after the House of Representatives paused its civil war long enough to agree on Speaker (for now) Paul D. Ryan. Silly, silly us.

[WaPo / NBC]

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