Photo: Courtesy of CNBC
The Republican presidential candidates gather for the first broadcast debate of the season tonight. And CBS has relegated them to one of the most miserable time slots imaginable: 8:00 pm on a Saturday. CBS will show it for one hour on television before it switches to streaming online only. This is a broadcast strategy for a failing sitcom, awaiting cancellation – which is oddly fitting considering how terrible the debates have been so far.
This is a shame because the topic is foreign policy. Presidents can’t just fix the economy they need Congress to sign onto an economic agenda and the private sector to respond. The President can’t even implement a domestic agenda without Congress. A President can hardly do anything on social issues, except appoint judges to eventually find new rights hidden in the text of the Constitution.
But as we saw earlier this year in Libya, the President can order bombs to fall just about anywhere on the planet while barely giving Congress a heads up. This is the one arena in which the president and his staff make a tremendous difference in the way the United States government acts. And, there are real differences in this field. Rick Santorum will defend the concept of pre-emptive war and the legacy of George W. Bush’s foreign policy. Ron Paul will try to bring back the pre-World War vision of non-intervention. Jon Huntsman will interject with his moderate realism. And the rest of the field will mix together ideas from all three of those foreign policy traditions and invoke the Reagan era.
Luckily for us there is another foreign policy debate 10 days from now that people will actually watch.
In the meantime, you’re most likely enjoying your Saturday night with friends and family – maybe watching college football while trying to forget about Penn State for a few minutes.
But we’ll keep our eyes on the debate for any candidacy-ruining gaffes, and insane promises. It’s what we do.
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