Tonight there was a debate in New Hampshire among declared Republican presidential candidates. So we got to see Mitt, and Newt, and Tim, and Rick, and Ron, and Michele, and Herman duke it out — more than a year before next year’s election, and six months before the actual New Hampshire primary. I didn’t watch it. Did anyone, who wasn’t paid to do so?
Why do Republicans do this to themselves? Why have a debate at this point, long before the actual issues on which the election will turn have crystallized? With the economy struggling and the pathetic thrashings of Anthony Weiner dominating the news, why would Republicans want to do anything to change the national discourse? Why take the chance that one of the announced candidates, who may never have more than fringe appeal, will say or do something stupid that the media can seize upon as the new story of the day?
When things are going badly for the Democrats — as they are — why intrude? The Republicans should shut up for a while and let the issues play out, without having a bunch of not-ready-for-prime-time-players talking about matters that probably aren’t going to make much difference come election day in November 2012. We would all be better served if the “debates” were deferred until we were within a month or two of an actual election that had real consequences. If the Republicans won’t do the decent thing and keep their yaps shut for a few more months, then the American public should just agree that no one should pay any attention to the blatherings and posturings of the would-be candidates until after the leaves turn and the first snow falls.