After universally trashing the most recent Republican debate format, furious activity at both the various campaigns and the RNC ensued immediately. The RNC, in danger of being marginalized, suspended the next CNBC debate and named new people within the organization to help manage the process going forward. Frankly, these moves probably fall into the ‘too little too late’ category but the RNC had to do something given the loud chorus of disapproval and contempt coming from every direction.
Meanwhile, the campaigns – or at least of some of them – came together to try and work something out that would benefit the candidates. That lasted less than a week. Today various news sites reported that some of the campaigns have asked for such things as temperature controls in the debate hall not to exceed 67 degrees, and the prohibition of hand-raising (both of which presumably to shield the heavy perspirers in the group).
In reality, it seems pretty clear to me this whole effort was doomed from the start. This group of Republicans is not cordial, conciliatory or in any kind of mood for actual compromise with each other. Put another way, bomb-throwers and negotiating are anathema.
Let’s review why: The Republican front runner is still Donald Trump – at least for now. Who among us thinks The Donald actually negotiates with anyone? He dictates. When you have billions of dollars, you’re probably used to getting your way, not negotiating. The idea that Trump negotiates anything with other campaigns or TV networks is probably a big fat lie. He’s a big spender and he dictates his terms, take it or leave it. That’s not really negotiation in the classical sense of compromise, but clearly he doesn’t mind calling it that. I’m pretty sure those he ‘negotiates’ with might have a different word to describe the interaction.
Following Donald trump in the polls with the possible exception of the creationist Ben Carson is, well, everyone. And since the front runner has been so successful with his unapologetic xenophobic and misogynistic opinions, many of the other trolls in the race for the nomination have followed suit. The result is an unruly bunch of pseudo politicians with an ostensible mean streak and an inability to agree on, well, nearly anything.
So I wouldn’t look for a tremendous amount of agreement between the campaigns and my prediction is that the RNC will continue to manage the debate process. Not because they necessarily deserve it, but because this particular troop of ‘expert negotiators’ can’t come together to produce a consensus on the debate specs.