JIM CREES: Debate or debacle ... Same waste of time!

So ... let’s talk about the debates.

Following the last Republican candidates’ debate (actually during the affair) those on stage managed to turn the tables on questioners and get folks really fired up about the damn “liberal media.”

Truth be known ... I kinda agree.

The debate was less a debate, and more a debacle.

Buuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuut ... C’mon folks. It wasn’t all the media’s fault.

The evening really was a mixed bag of absolutely moronic questions and an almost complete lack of substantive answers when the very occasional good question was tossed out.

For example, here’s one “question” that was asked — arguably the most famous and contentious.

“Mr. Trump, you have done very well in this campaign so far by promising to build another wall and make another country pay for it, send 11 million people out of the country, cut taxes $10 trillion without increasing the deficit, and make Americans better off because your greatness will replace the stupidity and incompetence of others. Let’s be honest. Is this a comic book version of a presidential candidate?”

I promise each and every reader, whether you agree with my point of view or not, I will NEVER ask a question such as that. (Nor will anyone on my staff.)

But, when Texas Sen. Ted Cruz was asked a question about the debt limit and his past record of voting against an increase in the debt ceiling, he took off on a jag against the “liberal media” ruining a great opportunity for real debate among the candidates on an important issue.

Asking whether a candidate can do math is inappropriate.

Being asked about an actual economic issue and taking off on the “liberal media” is simply a wasted chance to make your case.

While by every appearance, and certainly given all the coverage of CNBC’s horrible performance, this debate was worthless. The fact that Dr. Ben Carson and Donald Trump were both questioned on their individual tax plans was lost in the general chaos. Gov. Chris Christie and Mike Huckabee were questioned on both the national deficit and the issue of entitlements, but their answers are basically lost to posterity because of the other stupid questions.

The entire thing was a waste of time.

The media panel were poorly prepared and simply unprofessional. They were almost childish.

At the same time, the candidates had no meat to put on anyone’s platter, were rude and bullying, and wholly wasted every opportunity they had to make any kind of a clear and concise statement of policy.

The CNBC team were insulting in their questioning and demeanor, while the candidates were insulting in their responses and jabs.

Great reality TV.

But I wasn’t interested in reality TV. I actually don’t like reality TV. I wanted to see the candidates face off on substantive issues. The candidates and moderators faced off against each other - but that wasn’t the point!

I am not a fan of ‘meet-the-candidate’ debate formats. They simply don’t work out - not on the national stage, and not in local gatherings either.

If I were a political candidate for office in this area - or anywhere for that matter - I simply wouldn’t participate in these type of affairs. The ‘return on investment’ is abysmal.

I once attended a meet-the-candidate debate forum in Osceola County at which there were 54 people in the audience. Of those folks, only two (yes, two!) were not either related to the candidates or on the campaign staff of the same.

Debates may be useful when there is one Democratic candidate and one Republican candidate on the stage. Then there may be substantive discussion on issues and affairs of the day.

The previous debates, the most recent debate, and the coming dozen debates are little more than a cheap way for TV stations to fill time slots (and political debates are probably the cheapest TV production out there by far and away.)

Asking a dozen GOP candidates where they stand on gun control is about as informative as asking a local panel of candidates in the race for county sheriff how they will help bring jobs to the community. The answers mean nothing.

I remember sitting on a panel of folks involved in evaluating students for scholarships. One of the very well-meaning questioners asked a kid, “If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?” I almost choked.

What is the purpose of stupid questions?

What is the purpose of banal answers?

To wit, what is the purpose of political in-party debates more than a year away from the actual election?

The most recent CNBC debate forum with GOP presidential candidates was a monumental waste of time, both to those involved in the production and participation, and certainly to those watching at home.