Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Debate This!

Pop Quiz:

1. Pat Meehan is ducking a debate with Bryan Lentz because...

a. He isn't as a good debater as Lentz and want to avoid looking bad.
b. Jim "The Spoiler" Schneller was invited to participate and Meehan doesn't want to dignify his candidacy by appearing with him, or...
c. It gives him the chance to remind voters that Lentz and his people are sleazily responsible for getting Schneller on the ballot in the first place.
d. All of the above.

The answer of course is D. All of the above.

Lentz is trailing in the polls and so would like to get as much face time as possible in front of potential voters. Plus he is an effective, articulate and combative debater. Meehan a little less so.

For the most part, candidates leading in the polls avoid situations where they might stumble and give their opponent new life. They are risk averse and understandably so.

And while the press enjoys a good debate, typically they are not particularly edifying. Being a good debater does not mean much the candidate has good judgement, is trustworthy, or will be an effective representative. Often, the opposite is true.

It's almost always Democrats who put so much more stock in debates and their importance before an election than Republicans. It's the policy positions, the connection to voters and their concerns that really matters. Debates rarely sway voters from the candidate for whom they are inclined to vote. Negative ads are much better at that.

By attempting to game the election by getting Schneller on the ballot, the Lentz Campaign really shot itself in the foot. It doesn't look like enough people will vote for Schneller to hurt Meehan's chances and, in the end, Lentz looks opportunistic and cynical for going down that road.

Early in the campaign Meehan lamely attempted to tie Lentz to the Democatic corruption scandals in Harrisburg. He hasn't made that mistake again, focusing instead on Lentz's voting record and the likelihood that he'd vote with Nancy Pelosi and the other big-spending Democrats in Washington.

Lentz is left looking like a dirty tricks guy who would anything to win, not an attractive quality to a lot of voters.


Blogger Shannon said...

Question 2. Reneging on an October 14th debate commitment highlights that...

a. Meehan is uncomfortable explaining his position on real issues.

b. Meehan doesn't follow through on his commitments.

c. Meehan can't afford another debate disaster along the lines of his September performance in Havertown.

d. Meehan prefers to spend time whining about a third-party candidate on the ballot than talking to voters.

e. Meehan doesn't play well with others.

f. All of the above.

The answer, of course, is F. All of the above.

October 6, 2010 at 10:00 AM 

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