We'll be watching tonight's GOP debate through Rose-colored glasses—that would be Charlie Rose-colored glasses.
Here is the lineup of tonight's questioners:
In addition to evaluating the performances of the debaters, I urge you to also pay close attention to what kind of job Mr. Rose does. I am going out on a limb to make a wild and crazy statement: neither Mr. Rose nor any of the other questioners would ever vote Republican, not in a million years. That doesn't mean they can't be fair. They can. But will they?
I want to quote again from a piece on the debates in yesterday's Wall Street Journal by Fred Barnes:
For Republicans, a campaign dominated by televised debates has two disadvantages. It puts the folks they loathe, the press, in control. The media can dwell on subjects such as tax cuts for the rich or social issues that one or more of the candidates would prefer not to discuss. They are hard pressed to squeeze their talking points into the dialogue. Mr. Obama gets a pass.
(The second disadvantage is that the liberal media does a good job of drawing out the vulnerabilities of GOP candidates, helpfully providing information that the Obama campaign gets without lifting a finger.)
It could be argued that such debates help the GOP candidates hone their responses to appeal to swing voters. But I'm not so sure. Having the debates in the hands of what is essentially the opposition is not the way to help Republican candidates make their points.
What the debates often do is provide, as Michael Barone put it, questions that are "steeped in liberal distaste for Republican positions." Here's an idea: If the GOP candidates don't get a fair shake tonight, they should consider not ceding future debate formats to questioners who are, when you get right down to it, working for the opposition.