The Democratic Debate Brought To You By Max Bialystock: The DNC Engineers A Flop In Latest Debate Scheduling

220px-American_football_refereesDownton_Abbey_season_1For months, critics and candidates have been publicly denouncing what they view as open favoritism of the Democratic National Committee (and particularly DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz) toward Hillary Clinton. Even DNC members have objected to the role of the DNC and the view that it is trying to guarantee that Clinton is the nominee. One of the most commonly cited (and commonly accepted) examples are the small number of debates scheduled by the DNC at hours that guarantee the least exposure for Clinton. That criticism is likely to become deafening this Sunday when the key debate before the Iowa caucus will be scheduled not only on a Sunday night but in direct conflict with the NFL playoffs and the new episode of Downton Abbey. Our house is a typical example of the obvious dilemma. My wife is a Downton Abbey fan and, as you know, I am a football fan. The result? The debate might as well have been held by the DNC on Mars. It is a schedule that only Max Bialystock could truly love. [Update: despite virtual universal derision over the scheduling of the debates,  Wasserman Schultz went public today and claimed that the schedule was actually designed to “maximize” exposure.  This type of statement only magnifies the view that party leaders and some politicians have such a low opinion of voters that it borders on open contempt.  How would scheduling a debate on a Sunday night in conflict with two of the biggest television draws maximize viewership — putting aside the refusal to allow more debates as demanded by two of the three candidates and many voters? Indeed, if she was implausibly trying for the largest audience, she is grossly negligent as the low ratings have proven.]

Despite this bizarre and overt effort to minimize audiences, any effort to shield Clinton is failing if recent polls are an indicator. Clinton is falling in the polls much as she did in 2008 and the bias of the DNC is resonating with the base.

What is curious to me is that I thought Clinton was doing quite well in debates and recent interviews. The clumsiness that we saw earlier seems to have been largely removed. In other words, she really does not need the help from the DNC. Indeed, all of this weird minimalist scheduling is simply reaffirming the view of her critics that she is an establishment insider and that there is no real choice being allowed voters.

The scheduling on Sunday is also playing into GOP critics like Sen. Ted Cruz who observed that “They keep scheduling the Democratic debates at like 2 a.m. on Alaska PBS. It’s almost like they don’t want anybody to see their candidates for president.”

I find all of this fascinating to watch (or not watch in the case of the Democratic debates) because it seems so counterproductive and damaging to both the Clinton campaign and the DNC. The conventional wisdom has long been that parties want as many people to watch debates as possible. Conversely, this seems engineered to be a flop like the DNC version of “The Producers”

In the end, when the low ratings roll in, the DNC could always quote Downton Abbey with a sense of satisfaction: “We were a show that flopped”

128 thoughts on “The Democratic Debate Brought To You By Max Bialystock: The DNC Engineers A Flop In Latest Debate Scheduling

  1. When HIllary is president it will make Obama look like he was a SAINT.
    In fact a lot of the bad ideas that Obama has executed were actually Clinton era initiatives.
    Promote fair treatment for Sanders!

  2. Bigfatmike……due to dropping my subscription to this column, and having to post comments via Word Press, my last comment simply disappeared.
    Since this may happen again when I hit “post”, I won’t try to retype the comment that disappeared.
    But to summarize it, I think there are in fact macroeconomic factors beyond a President’s control. I commented that if FDR had been elected in 1928 instead of 1932, he would have been a one term president like Hoover.
    On the fiscal side, there are periods were some Presidents have influenced the economy. That is especially true when a president has either a majority in Congress, or bipartisan cooperation in passing budgets, tax reductions or increases, etc. Reagan passed much of the legislation he sought, due to a compliant Democratic Congessional majority ……a makority that existed for most of his administrative.
    The tax cuts, increased defense spending etc. could not have passed without aTip O’neil getting the legislation through.
    There are examples in Bush 43 and Obama administrations of fiscal policy objectives getting passed into law, for better or for worse.
    In the case of Bush 41, he had no control over Greenspan’s decision to tighten monetary policy c. midway into his term, and that monetary move was largely responsible for the recession toward the end of Bush 41’s term.

    • @tnash80hotmailcom

      Good points. Without a friendly congress, presidents have real problems. But we treat them like the captain of the ship. If it is smooth sailing many of us are happy. But if the ship goes down, we put it on the president regardless of what happened.

      Not only that it seems that it is the last few months of the term that are most important. A president could have 6 percent, or more, growth for years. But let the last 6 months falter and he has a real problem going into the election. It works the other way as well. We could be eating grass for 3 and a half years. But let the last 6 months show an up tick and the guy is a hero.

  3. @stevegroen “Anybody know how much of the reduction in unemployment to “5.5%” is due to the military-industrial complex? Do I get to blame it on the war economy as I so desire?”

    I suspect the answer to that may be complicated.

    But there there are a couple of points that suggest that defense spending may not be propping up employment. The first is that defense spending has been declining since Q3 2011. Unless the economy were beginning to overheat (which is not the case now), lower government spending ought to decrease economic activity and increase unemployment. The second is that there are studies that suggest that dollar for dollar we create fewer jobs with defense spending than putting the dollars in other parts of the economy.

    As a first cut, It looks to me like unemployment has declined despite reductions in defense spending.

    If you are going to make your argument to a skeptical audience you better do your homework.

    • Bigfatmike…..I remember a professor in 1971 pointing out to our class that the rising unemployment rate was a really bad sign of how Nixon was handling the economy.
      Looking at the the draft calls under LBJ, the fact that his buildup in Vietnam meant snatching any non-deferred working age male late teens -early 20s, I pointed out that perhaps the drawdown in Vietnam of c.400,000 under Nixon at that point had inevitable negative consequences on the unemployment rate.
      If the Nixon economy at that stage had not been transitioning to the all volunteer army, if Nixon had been snatching hundreds of thousands of working age younger males and “employed them” in the military, then the unemployment numbers might have been closer to those of the peak LBJ years.
      In the nearly 45 year era of the all volunteer army, I don’t see that the the size of the military has had much of an impact on the unemployment rate.
      A bigger factor seems to changes in labor workforce participation. There is now probably now a smaller percentage of “working age adults” participating in the labor force than in decades, probably in generations.
      Part of that is due to an aging population reaching retirementment age. Part of it seems to be the explosion in recent years of SS disability roles involving those well below normal retirement age.
      And part of it seems to be those who took early retirement, or who just quit looking for work. I think that the number of actively employed adults, as a percentage of the “potential workforce” is very low now.

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