Nature abhors a vacuum. Probably because it always spells it v-a-c-c-u-m, then gets mocked unmercifully about it for days afterwards.
The Minnick-Labrador City Club Debate--a Conspicuous Lack of Enthusiasm
I got nothin'. I attended the luncheon sitting at a table of lobbyists, Republican operatives and media representatives characteristically unrepresentative of the standard audience of urban professionals whose political stripes range from thoughtful Democrats to moderate Republicans spiced with an occasional wingnut. Their new presence rounded out the room. The relatively small crowd of regulars seemed to be belie the fact that this is the closest, most hotly contested race in Idaho. Three layers of chairs in the back, set up for those not paying extra to partake of the luncheon, remained largely unfilled. People were prompt, got their meals, ate, mildly conversed and waited for the debate like it was an emergency parent/teacher conference involving unruly children.
Oh to be sure, the candidates marked their territory on where they differ and where they agree. Labrador delivers his boyish smile as a gift wrap for some of the most extreme policies this side of John Birch, gladly proclaiming it to be mainstream for Idaho. Right out of the chute, Labrador pronounces that Minnick's party destroyed America in the last two years, to no rebuttal whatsoever. Raul proudly continues to support our entry into Iraq, full repeal and starting over on health care reform, support for the Citizen United case, and would make immigration reform his signature issue. He didn't deny wanting to make abortion illegal, including cases of rape or incest, returning to the gold standard, or repealing the seventeenth amendment providing for citizen elected senators. Nobody blanched at these issues. Nobody applauded either.
Because that's not why that audience was there. The very first question pertained to the negativity of the campaign which promptly led to rounds of finger pointing and sniping. Indeed, hours before this debate Minnick released a Willie Horton type ad containing accusations from the US attorney's office against Labrador who secured the deportation of a Mexican national charged with manufacturing meth. And the second question pertained directly to the allegations of that ad. Both questions and their answers received audible reactions from the audience, none of it perceived as good and definitely not approving. Indeed, a later question, submitted by a high school student, received the most raucous applause, and simply asked why the negative attacks, instead of airing reasons to vote FOR the candidate.
Certainly there is a choice between these two candidates which was passionately evident before I even attended. Minnick's pitch was my read, that Labrador was slightly to the right of Attila the Hun. And certainly both campaigns are guilty of the same off putting conduct. But here I am in an area where most of the Democrats in the state are congregated, attending a forum engaging to Democrats, and seeing only a smattering of interested souls, and those were laden with disgust. I was like a Democrat attending a Republican primary debate in Rexburg. Only it was a high school debate and these were the truants. No one was up there representing us which unfortunately accentuates a desire to formalize the relationship.