There’s yet another GOP debate tonight and it should be entertaining, unlike that boring one that stupid NBC held on Monday night when they admonished the audience to hold their applause and verbal outbursts. CNN knows a good thing when they see it, and I’m guessing they won’t be making that mistake, regardless of the Villagers who implore them to do just that.
How many minutes of that Monday-night NBC debate were played on cable news over and over and over again, with the little NBC bug in the lower corner? Not as many as the previous CNN debate with John Punching Bag King, I’ll wager.
The only restraints I can see CNN putting on tonight’s debate will be how big each campaign’s “Applause” signs can be and exactly where they place them so as not to appear on camera. They might veto the Gingrich campaign’s “Bloodthirsty Hoot” signs.
Gingrich himself is adamant that any instruction by the moderator to the crowd would be tantamount to a threat to Democracy itself.
“We’re going to serve notice on future debates that we won’t tolerate — we’re just not going to allow that to happen,” Gingrich continued. “That’s wrong — the media doesn’t control free speech. People ought to be able to applaud if they want to. It was almost silly.”
He won’t allow it! Gingrich even skirted dangerously close to being consistent on this issue when he defended the rights of hecklers at one of his events to be noisy. But the real reason Newt is demanding that the moderators let the crowd be the crowd can be seen from stories like this from Nate Silver.
Polling released within the past 24 hours suggests that Mitt Romney may have stopped and possibly reversed Newt Gingrich’s momentum before the Florida primary on Tuesday.
Newt had a short taste of front-runner status back in December and watched it slip away once. After his debate performances in South Carolina propelled him back into the lead, there’s no way he’s going to just stand quietly and let Romney sneak by him again.
This is what is setting the table for tonight’s “debate.” Obviously Newt has seen that Nate Silver has once again given Romney the best chance of winning Florida (65% as of this writing) and unlike the previous three contests, Florida is a winner-take-all state. Losing by eight votes in Florida is no different, in terms of delegates, than ending up tied with Rick Perry or Herman Cain. You get nothing. You lose. Good day, sir.
And to be clear, I put debate in quotes above because there will be no debate tonight. There will be no rational exchange of ideas. Tonight’s Republican contest will more closely resemble a reality show where contestants compete to become the next Michael Buffer, than it will to those famous Lincoln-Douglas debates that Newt likes to pretend he could ever compete in.
So there you have it. The stakes have never been higher, Newt has never been more motivated, and CNN has just been given a clear example of the difference between a debate where the audience remains quiet, and a debate where they are allowed to let their freak flags fly.
Personally, I’m hoping that Ron Paul pile drives both Romney and Gingrich to the canvas, takes one step towards a fainting Rick Santorum, then turns to the crowd and yells, “Are you not entertained?”
(Photo from Agence France-Presse, from RawStory.com)