Like our nephews’ t-ball league, the first Republican primary debate, scheduled for Aug. 6 in Cleveland and hosted by Fox News, is being turned into one of those “everyone gets a participation trophy” deals, with extra forums now scheduled to give rubes like Rick Santorum's one fan in Iowa (her name is Peggy) a chance to pretend they matter to our democracy. If the forums and debate involve all the candidates onstage diving on a ground ball before whoever comes up with it forgets to throw to first (our money’s on Rick Perry), we won’t be surprised.


Previously, Fox had announced that only the top 10 candidates in an average of the five biggest national polls that week will be allowed to participate. This has upset the 397 candidates who are not likely to make the top 10 by early August. In true Republican fashion, all those candidates have redoubled their campaigning, determined to make the cut through hard work and … HAHAHAHA, actually no, they have been whining to anyone who will listen that Fox is going to strangle their campaigns before the voters have a chance to do it.

In their efforts, the candidates have been helped by Republican Party officials in New Hampshire. The Granite State is most upset that Fox could do the important work of winnowing the slate of candidates down before they get to do it a mere six months later during the state’s First in the Nation primary. So earlier this week the New Hampshire Union Leader announced it would hold a candidate forum in New Hampshire to be broadcast on C-SPAN the same night as the debate. According to the paper’s publisher, Joseph McQuaid:

What Fox is attempting to do, and is actually bragging about doing, is a real threat to the first-in-the-nation primary. Fox boasts that it will “winnow” the field of candidates before New Hampshire gets to do so. That isn't just bad for New Hampshire, it's bad for the presidential selection process by limiting the field to only the best-known few with the biggest bankrolls.

Surely American democracy is on the path to oblivion if our nation is deprived of six extra months of Chris Christie attending rubber-chicken dinners at the Elks Lodge in Nashua.

Not to be shown up by those Live Free or Die hicks, Fox News announced Thursday it will also hold a forum in Cleveland on Aug. 6 for those candidates who don't make the cut for the real debate. So now the really unpopular candidates like Carly Fiorina and Bobby Jindal have to decide if they will participate in the Fox forum or the Union Leader forum. Or, option three, they could all quit politics and go live productive and fulfilling lives doing anything else.

And of course this all elides the biggest question: Who the hell besides political reporters and comedy writers will care about anything these people have to say in the dead of summer six months before the primary? The question practically answers itself.

[Bloomberg]

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