So far this election we have seen millions of dollars already spent. Today Sheldon Aldelson declared he would contribute 10 million dollars to a Romney Super PAC. Both parties are targeting to raise and spend a billion dollars each. After all is said and done though there is a great equalizer and that are the debates. We continue to read how Romney's handlers are steering him away from the press as his proverbial foot in mouth disease keeps coming back like an unwanted cancer. We have to wonder however how long Mitt can keep up the rope-a-dope.
The actual debates are somewhat like a championship boxing match where all the hype and all the money backing the fight, may come down to just one punch. In this presidential election cycle undoubtedly both sides will spend nearly two billion dollars between them to claim the title. The real question is will Romney and all those sinking so much money in to him permit him to get into the ring without a lot of pre-conditions.
In the presidential debates no matter how much money is spent to get the candidates into the ring, one question or one wrong answer in any of the debates can either win or lose the election. The debates are the great equalizer for the voters. One bad answer, one slip of the tongue, one moment of indecision, one counter punch that lands hard to the jaw, can bring all the money and work to end in less than a few minutes.
If anyone watched the debates between Nixon and Kennedy it was obvious that Kennedy scored big just from poise in front of the camera. If you remember Dukakis and the picture of him looking like a Weeble in the turret of a tank you would know that one photo op. ended any chance he had. When it comes to this years debates it will be Obama and Romney squaring off with the moderator as the referee. As a nation our opinions may be changed on a single word, a look of uncertainty, or a the fear in a candidates face.
At this point in time if it were my billion at stake I would be relatively comfortable putting it up on the incumbent if this actually going to be a heavy weight fight. If on the other hand I had invested my billion on Romney I would be looking for insurance on that bet. So what is the insurance in this fight? It is the rules, subjects, venue, moderators, and questions that will determine if these will actually be debates or just opportunities for both candidates to spue sound bites.
As the debates get closer, as citizens who have the right to a fair and brutal debate on real substance that is important to us, it is up to us to stay vigilent about how the big money will try to limit the debates for their own candidate. Watch closely as the time for debates draw near to what the rules are shaping up to be and if you are not happy with them, be bold, be loud, and let the news services know what we expect and are entitled to. Do not think you have to accept what the candidates wish to do, this is about us, and not the candidates or the networks. This is about our right to view an actual debate on actual topics that affect us. We have already funded the pay for view with our taxes and patriotism.
So let them spend all the money they wish. We as voters have the great equalizer at our disposal. After two billion is spent we may still be able to see a knock out in less than one minute if the rules of the debate do not hinder the candidates from throwing swings instead of playing T'ball.
If I were you, I would also be looking at which of the two candidates tries the hardest to limit the structure of the debates as this alone will show who does not have the best product to sell.
At the end of the day Sheldon and others may wish they had just played craps instead.