Which fantastic idea I had this time that is suddenly being batted about?
Cross-party debates earlier in the election cycle.
I came up with the idea back in the middle of May, independently of my idea, Ann Althouse's son John, IM'ed her with a notion along those lines and she blogged about it, now Patrick Ruffini guest posting at Hugh Hewitt's blog also comes out for such a notion.
The pros for this are greater than the cons (at least if they follow my brilliant scheme). One of the main pros would be entertainment value. Politics should be engaging, and a broader group of folks will engage sooner if politics were more entertainingly combative. Right now we have a terrible combination, sure politics are combative, , but not in a manner that's instructive, intellectual or engaging. The sooner the better for forcing an honest intellectual, emotional and moral confrontation between the folks who hope to lead this nation. The other main pro would be that this would force candidates to campaign more like the person they will be in office rather than the person they think people of their own party want them to be. Screw the cons. I'm about the positives factors affirming ideas I take credit for, as far as all the cons I have two words for you, pish and tosh.
If the campaign for the presidency is to be a 18-24 month affair as it seems to be now, steps should be taken to make as many of those months moments of revelation rather than obfuscation. Debates between the parties would be revelatory, debates within the parties are too often obfuscatory.
But, all this aside, another notion I remember suggesting (or at least thinking, maybe I never typed it out before) was that it would be far more instructive if candidates were forced to send their 'policy experts' and 'advisers' out into the internet to have debates with each other. When we pick a President we aren't just picking a single person, we are picking a team, and I want to know as soon as possible what the make up of that team will look like. A Bloggingheads type format would be perfect, with dingalinks, and a relatively unstructured time frame. Would Clinton have beaten Bush in 1992 if we had known it would have been a bunch of dweeby munchkins, a few crusty Carter leftovers, and heavily favoring academic over real world folks? Likewise, in 2000 if folks had known Bush was skipping past his father, and even Reagan to pick folks with experience in the Nixon and Ford years, would Gore have won more than the popular vote (although in this scenario I think he would have had a stable of far lefty policy wonks that would make Hillary look like Ayn Rand, so he probably would have lost resoundingly, even against the Bush/Ford/Nixon team).
Could any of the Republicans get Colin Powell to speak on their behalf? Would Clinton be crazy enough to dust off Albright? Does anyone know who Obama's people are or what his cabinet would look like? Does McCain have any friends (aside from a few in the media)? Would Rudy look past the five boroughs for advisers?
These are all questions that would be far more informative than if some 4th tier candidate manages to get off a sound bite, or if a first tier candidate has a response interrupted by a lightning strike.
But, there's no incentive whatsoever for the presidential hopefuls to submit to such a risky scheme. The money people could turn off the money spigot until the candidates engage each other and the issues more directly, but that won't happen, folks are eager to throw money at the campaigns, either cause they're true believers, or cause they hope a scratched back has a memory and where there's some quids there might also be some pros hanging out with some quos. Too bad the multiple 'expert's roundtables' idea will never take off, it would be magnificent, and lead to better governance, but so would terminal limits, and those aren't likely to ever be imposed.
So many ideas, so few listening, oh well . . .
Woohoo! Hello Althouse readers. I always like it when a popular site turns its attention towards my immodest little blog. Feel free to read other posts, they won't bite, some of them might even be interesting . . .