exposure in these forums institutionalizes the leads of front-runners in the polls. That is one reason why, in this era of frequent primary debates, early front-runners tend to do better than they did from 1960 through 1988. The candidates in the back of the pack, of course, flock to the debates for the prime-time exposure and the chance to stand toe-to-toe against the leader. But that's not the kind of equal time these challengers need.
If, say, Edwards or Obama could debate Hillary one-on-one, things might be different. But when they share the stage with a full array of challengers, they fade into the woodwork -- at least as far as the press is concerned. Debates become a matter of the front-runner in the polls vs. the pack, which is the main reason the press inevitably crowns Hillary or Rudy Giuliani the winner of almost every encounter, even when their performances hardly warrant it.
Moreover, in a crowded field, if the challengers attempt to criticize the front-runner, they come off looking negative, and a third candidate benefits from the attack. The debates effectively insulate the front-runners from criticism, cementing their lead.Interesting and quite possibly true, but for me the best part is how Stark gives yet another reason to love Dennis Kucinich:
the dynamics of the 2007 Democratic debates are destroying the campaigns of the major challengers. Take Edwards. His calling card is that he's the candidate of real change, and he's backed that up by taking stands on issues such as NAFTA, which separate him from the mainstream.
But every time Edwards goes to his left, Dennis Kucinich -- who has no chance to be president and therefore can take any stand he pleases with impunity -- goes further left. This has the effect of making Edwards look like just another timid moderate, which is hardly what he is.I agree with Stark that Edwards is not a timid moderate, but I bet that we would agree to disagree on what we think Edwards in fact is.
In any event: Go Dennis, get busy, it's your birthday, uh-huh!!
** Check out Dennis singing the Big Bill Bronzy classic here (this is well worth watching!!).