One has to wonder why the Republican Party uses the elephant as its symbol when -- judging by recent developments -- it has all the memory capability of a rock with amnesia. Not only does it make the same mistakes over and over, but it practically turns those errors into a mantra. Latest case in point are the on-going debates
among presidential candidates and, no, this screed is not about the never-ending shattering of Ronald Reagan's famed -- but forgotten -- 11th Commandment.
Instead, the problem is the way said debates are conducted. It's hardly Lincoln-Douglas. In fact, it's more like an Edsel than a Lincoln.
One would think that by now, the GOP would realize there's no way to win a debate under the present setup. You know, where the TV talking heads spend more time in the make-up room than in the library, and where it seems more effort is directed at formulating a gotcha question than in trying to see who might actually have presidential qualifications. Wake up pachyderms! You're being used, and misused.
About the only reason TV networks donate the time is that they see it as a vehicle to make some inept anchors and reporters appear almost competent, all the while lowering the chances of an educated electorate to make a proper choice. It is way past time that the Republican Party goes out and buys programming time, and puts on its own debates, perhaps using former presidents, learned elected officials and proper scholars to ask the questions and -- more important -- the salient follow-up queries. Those politicos who drain the oxygen out of a room with filibuster would be cut off in mid-paragraph, those who fail to answer the question would be chastised, and those who lie would be shown thetruth.
Debates are important, or at least, they used to be. But now, thanks to the talking heads that have captured that life form, they have all the appeal of a root canal performed with a croquet mallet and cold chisel. About the only debate that came close to educating us was the Fox News effort from Iowa, and even that kept turning into a demo tape for at least one of the inquisitors. Still, it was the highest-rated cable show of that week, so it's not disinterest by the voting public that's ruining this form of educating us.
Will Republicans some day learn that the current form of televised debates are designed to make them look as bad as possible? That's debatable.
Jim Ruffalo is a retired reporter/columnist/talk show host.