Stephen Colbert, Mock Debater?
Stephen Colbert, like savoir faire, is everywhere.
(AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)
It's no news that the host of "The Colbert Report" is running for President. It's been the talk of the political world and blogosphere ever since he announced two weeks ago.
But today's New York Times piece got me wondering. Former TVNewser Brian Stelter wrote:
Stephen Colbert's presidential candidacy may be phony, but his supporters are very real…This is just the most recent story about the groundswell of support for Colbert, feeding off some poll numbers released last week, as reported by the Washington Post's Chris Cilizza:
One of them — a group created by Raj Vachhani and titled "1,000,000 Strong for Stephen T Colbert" — has grown to more than a million members in just over a week, making it the most popular political group on Facebook by far.
Public Opinion Strategies, a Republican polling firm, recently completed a national poll of 1,000 likely 2008 voters that included Colbert's name in both the GOP and Democratic primaries. (He has announced his plans to run in both the Democratic and Republican primaries.) In the field from Oct. 18-21, the survey has a 5 percent margin of error.All this coverage – and the fact that the umpteenth debate is scheduled for tomorrow night – got me thinking. Colbert's supporters are real. His poll numbers are real, and are ahead of many second tier candidates.
In the Democratic primary, Colbert takes 2.3 percent of the vote -- good for fifth place behind Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (40 percent), Sen. Barack Obama (19 percent), former Sen. John Edwards (12 percent) and Sen. Joe Biden (2.7 percent. Colbert finished ahead of Gov. Bill Richardson (2.1 percent), Rep. Dennis Kucinich (2.1 percent) and former Sen. Mike Gravel (less than 1 percent).
So the question is: At what point do the news networks invite him to participate in these debates? I've often wondered where the threshold is for inclusion in a presidential debate – it's a decision made by the news networks themselves, partially based on public support -- and how exactly they draw the line.
But if Colbert can get over a million members on Facebook, and polls well with likely voters, at what point is a networks' hand forced to extend him an invite? Would he have to hit double-digits? If so, why don't we use that rationale with Dodd, Biden, Richardson, Kucinich or Gravel?
Yes, we all know it's a joke. As I've written in this space before, that's the mobius strip humor in it all.
And yes, if he was granted this opportunity, the appearance would likely fall flatter than his performance with Tim Russert last Sunday.
But when he's outpolling half the Democratic field – and they get to participate in the debates – how can one not wonder when or if he'll score an invite? Or just wonder how the others with a fraction of his 'support' continue to get invited back?