Saturday, September 24, 2011

A Better Campaign

I've been seeing complaints about the Republican presidential candidates. After the last debate, commentators said all of the contenders were either boring or stupid. I think this is mainly due to the constraints imposed by the debate format. It's almost impossible to display intelligence, character, or wise thoughts in one-minute responses to questions.

Political debates used to mean something, and they use to require real intellect and rhetoric. Candidates would spend hours crafting detailed speechrs responding to each other's positions. Television changed that, turning the whole process into a shadow of its former self and reducing it to a farce. All the candidates can do is repeat sound bites crafted by image consultants.

There is no point in watching one of these debates. You would learn more about their character and capabilities by watching them play a game of poker.

Now that I think about it, that would actually be a good idea. Instead of going through another round of a mutually destructive competition, wasting resources and making everyone look bad, they could generate publicity with a positive-sum game of skill, calculation and cunning.

The Republican National Committee should ask all of the candidates to go into a room, put ten million dollars of campaign funding on the table, and keep playing poker until somebody wins the whole pot. ESPN would probably pay a lot of money for the rights to film it, and I know I would like to watch. The game would certainly be a better preparation for the trials of being president than a lot of the campaign events they go through now.

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