Friday, December 9, 2011

Should Trump moderate a debate?

Donald Trump Speaks at the Faith and Freedom Coalition in June 2011, Source: E McBride

Back in June 2011 I had the opportunity to hear Donald Trump speak at the Faith and Freedom Coalition meeting. At the time rumors were still flying that he might run for president. I sat in the second row, center aisle, right in front of him, and listened to every word. I went into it a complete skeptic about what this millionaire playboy of casino and reality show fame could have to offer a meeting of mostly Tea Party activists. (I am not a Tea Party activist.)
Here is how I described him back then-
He's pro-life and Catholic. He hates ObamaCare. He is still proud of himself for making Obama produce "that excuse for a birth certificate." He occasionally refers to himself in the third person. And a few quotes, "OPEC is laughing at our leaders." "Our leaders are stupid, you know, right? I'm not a politician, I can say stupid." The thing he said that really bothered me was regarding the war in Iraq. "To the victor go the spoils." He believes that the U.S. (and Allies) have the right to take over the Iraqi oil fields, and take the oil from them. He also wants to give a million dollars to every Iraqi family hurt by the war, and to every American soldier wounded or killed in the war, from the profits of those oil fields. This is one of those huge ideas that non-politicians come up with who truly don't understand international laws. This made me a little mad to hear, because people will like it, and it is not something that could ever actually happen.
But over all, I would say he's a smart guy and he knows his stuff. I'm starting to understand his appeal. And I'd be really surprised if we don't see him pull a Ross Perot towards the end.
That all being said, let's discuss whether or not he should be a moderator of a televised debate.
Reasons against it-
I don't find it appropriate that someone who may enter the ring as a third party candidate should be given the chance to moderate a debate where he can sabotage his opponents.
If he were moderator the attention will be on him instead of on the candidates.
He lacks the political and news authority to be recognized as well-informed on the issues.
His mere presence turns things into a 3 ring circus, again taking attention away from the candidates and issues.
He's a loud mouth and outspoken on the issues. Can he actually "moderate?"

Reasons in favor of a Trump moderated debate-
A Trump moderated debate will be widely watched by an audience that probably hasn't tuned in for previous debates, giving candidates the chance to reach a previously uninformed audience.
Maybe the general public doesn't realize it yet, but he is very smart on the issues.
Likely to be far more entertaining than some of the previous, incredibly dull debates.

At this point in time Mitt Romney, Michele Bachmann, Ron Paul, and Jon Huntsman Jr. have all respectfully declined the invitation to participate in the Dec 27 Newsmax Debate hosted by Trump. That leaves only Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum appearing. Of the debate, Gingrich has said, "If the candidates can’t handle Donald Trump, why in the world would anyone think they can handle [Iranian President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad or [Venezuelan President] Hugo Chavez or al-Qaida?"

With only Gingrich and Santorum left in the debate, you have to wonder what the point will really be? The leader versus the most distant trailer? In many respects this is good for Santorum. People will finally hear his message - if he actually steps up to the plate and delivers. (And I do believe he's a good man. I hope he rises to the occasion and take advantage of the situation.) I think it will make or break Gingrich's campaign as well. Even though he's right on target with most of the GOP, he is a little bit out of line in a few areas. And those are exactly the same areas that Trump disagrees with him. The debate may very well end up Gingrich v. Trump on the war, how to fix the economy, and foreign policy. Don't underestimate how persuasive and convincing Trump can sound on those issues. Trump could end up crowning Gingrich on live TV, or burying the guy with his own shovel.

The more I think about it, Rick Santorum is the only person with something to gain from this debate.


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