2007-10-04 / View From the Middle

View From The Middle

Missing A Debate: A Case Of Purposeful Mismanagement
By Charles Rogers

By Charles Rogers

How dumb can a person be - especially a person who would (could) eventually be the next President of the United States? (I suppose that question answers itself, given what we have now).

Here we have many too many candidates, first of all, Democrat and Republican, all who started their run much, much too early, and that includes the actor-who-thinks-he's Ronald Reagan, former Senator Fred Thompson - and now they don't really know what to do next, except, perhaps, make mistakes.

The Republican candidates were scheduled to debate last week at Morgan State University in Maryland. It was part of a series of debates the candidates, of both parties, were to hold around the country, mostly at various colleges and universities, so "down home" people could get a good look at them and find where they stand on a bunch or diverse issues, although the events have been televised. Last week's was on PBS.

Four of the candidates didn't show up. Mitt Romney, Senator John McCain, Thompson and Rudy Giuliani said they had "scheduling conflicts" and, well, I repeat: THEY DIDN'T SHOW UP. This omission left the others, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, Sen. Sam Brownback, Rep. Ron Paul, Rep. Tom Tanvredo, Rep. Duncan Hunter and Alan Keyes, a former ambassador, plenty of room to talk about their missing adversaries behind their backs.

It was a natural impulse for them to take umbrage with the insulting absence, especially considering it took place where the debate's questions and answers would be about issues of special interest to African-Americans.

Even the candidates present could not avoid noting that the absence could have hurt the entire Republican Party's image within races.

I'm sure it did hurt the party. Frankly, I don't think we can be so naive to think that the debate took place at a black institute of higher education had anything to do with a reason for not attending. We can avoid the facts and hope that, had they realized the importance of an event such as this; at a place such as this; at a time such as this, they would have broken their "schedule" to get the hell to Morgan State on the fastest train, plane or skateboard.

However, we should note that the four contenders are, first of all, conservatives, in the strictest, most political sense. They know that the conservative wing of the party gives more of a nod to their white voters, realizing that, since African-Americans are usually Democratic Party voters, their appearances weren't necessary. They indeed know where the political side of the bread is to be buttered.

It was, therefore, obviously easy to say it was a matter of "mishandling" by their campaign managers or schedulers or aides and, I would suppose, had the candidate himself known, he would have at least tried.

And, at that, we can believe a sincere apology was tendered and graciously accepted (Yeah, right!). Some of the questions given included topics of minority employment, capital punishment, illegal immigration and, of course, Iraq.

The GOP did itself harm by not having its frontrunners at the debate. Besides kowtowing to their party's conservative wing, could their reason have been that they were not well-versed on some of the issues that might have been topics of discussion? That could be the excuse.

But it had better not.

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