I HATE to be the bearer of bad news, but another Democratic presidential debate is coming. It's scheduled for 9 p.m. Tuesday at Drake University in Des Moines. I'm planning to watch, but only because I have to for work. You, on the other hand, are under no such obligation, and if you're like most Americans, you have no intention of tuning in.
In the first of these Democratic debates last June, the total TV audience (over two nights) topped 33 million. In the second debate, in July, the audience totaled 19.4 million. In the third, it was down to 14 million. It dropped again for the fourth, and for the fifth, and by the time candidates and moderators walked onto the stage at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles for the sixth of these affairs, the audience had dwindled to a mere 6.1 million. How low can it go?
Voters usually grow more, not less, interested as an election campaign unfolds, so by now vast multitudes should be avidly following every word of these debates. Instead, multitudes are doing the opposite, repelled by these tiresome, shallow, and predictable scrimmages. Presidential? That's the last thing they are. These gaudy TV events, with their high-tech gimcracks and game-show atmosphere, aren't forums for grappling seriously with genuine disagreements over policy. They're arenas for silly entertainment. Like WWE Wrestling, minus the gravitas, as someone once said.
The deficiencies of our televised debates are an old story. . . .