Sunday, August 12, 2007

The party of special interests

Appearing Now on a TV Near You? Surely a Presidential Debate
This campaign has turned into a mind-numbing blur of 90- and 120-minute debates and forums that has consumed the Democratic candidates in particular. They are trudging from coast to coast at the beck and call of television networks, unions, state political parties and whoever else may want to throw them together on stage in front of a television camera and a blinking red and green light.

In this Summer of Debates, Democrats appeared before bloggers in Chicago last Saturday, union members in Chicago on Tuesday and gay leaders in Los Angeles on Thursday. The Republicans, with fewer organized interest groups and thus fewer such demands, debated here in Des Moines last Sunday morning.

...And there are risks — particularly for the Democrats, summoned to appear before, and appease, groups pressing them to stake out early positions on the left over gay rights, health care, the empowering of labor unions and the war in Iraq. At the labor debate in Chicago on Tuesday, the candidates seemed at times to be competing with one another in offering promises that might satisfy union members: raising the minimum wage, supporting expanded health benefits, opposing trade deals with China.

(There is less of a problem for Republicans, as a number of Democratic campaign aides said in the course of grousing interviews. When, asked one, was the last time the National Rifle Association commanded Republican presidential candidates to appear in a nationally televised debate on Second Amendment issues?)

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