Why worries about a Donald Trump debate are overwrought

Matt K. Lewis Senior Contributor
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The political cognoscente are beside themselves over the coming Newsmax-sponsored “debate” to be moderated by Donald Trump.

We can probably all agree that Trump is a sketchy character — and a master self-promoter. Having said that, the concerns are overwrought.

Today’s 24-hour news cycle demands we obsess over every little thing. A month from now though, my guess is that this will be just one small (admittedly weird) footnote to a long campaign filled with too many debates. It won’t even be televised — except on ION television (whatever that is?) — unless, of course, the media decides to give it attention.

Along those lines, I raise this question: Are the media elites — you know, the ones who talk about Trump (and welcome him on their TV shows) — complicit in promoting him? Are they somehow endorsing his wacky ideas when they give him a platform?

If you answer “no” to that question, then it’s hard to argue Republicans who attend this debate (and several will not) are granting him imprimatur.

(Sidebar: How much of this is about the mainstream media worrying debates can be organized without them?)

The notion that Republicans are somehow damaging their brand by giving Trump credibility is risible.

Political candidates make one calculation when they decide whether or not to accept an invitation to debate: Will this help me win or not? This is as it should be. If you’re Newt Gingrich — an excellent debater — you don’t turn down opportunities to debate. You basically say: “I’ll debate anybody, anywhere, anytime.”

That’s his calculus. It’s not absurd. It’s not evil. Nor does it mean Gingrich endorses Trump’s positions.

This is not to say that politics hasn’t devolved into a sort of sad reality show. It has.But that’s not the fault of the GOP. This is an unfortunate trend. It says more about the decline of western civilization than about the status of the Grand Old Party.

Sure, we’ve come a long way from the Lincoln-Douglas debates (the real ones). But is this any worse than candidate Bill Clinton playing saxophone on Arsenio Hall … or President Clinton talking “boxers or briefs” on MTV?

At best, this is the logical extension of that.

About a year ago, former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell criticized President Obama’s decision to go on “The View,” saying: “I wouldn’t put him on ‘Jerry Springer’ either, right? . . . look, I think the president of the United States has to go on serious shows.”

Don’t hate the player, hate the game.

This is the world in which we live …

Matt K. Lewis