Thursday, May 17, 2007

Long shots or plants? You decide

Having been out and about, I completely missed the second Republican debate Tuesday night. All the recaps I've read suggest Rudy Giuliani shook out of his post-abortion doldrums and put forth a much stronger performance than he had the first time out.

The general consensus is that the key moment in Rudy’s comeback occured when, to the delight of the crowd, he emphatically challenged Ron Paul's assertion that America's foreign policy (in particular the sporadic bombing the US had been engaging in Iraq during the nineties) contributed to 9/11. With the pro-life audience now behind him, Rudy demanded the Libertarian non-interventionist apologize for his assault on the sacred tragedy Giuliani is so intertwined with.

This all sounds suspiciously similar to the first Democratic debate, when Barack Obama was able to recover from his shaky answer on what he would do as president if America was attacked by getting in a good smack against an Iran-related pacifist softball Dennis Kucinich conveniently tossed the Illinois Senator.

The long tail of obscurity that marks both parties' primary fields is a boom for those who write about politics. The no-shots provide color to what would otherwise be dreary early debates, and the raw numbers they add allow us to resort to the easy-to-compose yet informative candidate-by-candidate recap format when wrapping things up.

But could there be a more sinister beneficiary to these seemingly gratuitous inclusions? I can't say for sure. Just don't be surprised if, in a future Republican debate, Tom Tancrado turns to John McCain and questions his willingness to sacrifice for our country, or if, in a future Democratic debate, Mike Gravel demands Hillary Clinton get off the stage and cook him dinner.

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