Pity the Democrats. They know perfectly well that hardly anyone is going to watch Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and some guy from Maryland sparring on television tonight. Ha ha! The first Republican debate, on Aug. 6, drew 24 million viewers, making it the most-watched presidential debate in U.S. television history. The second GOP debate, on Sept. 16, drew 23 million viewers, making it a close second.

But now: three candidates instead of ten (uh, can't quite remember the name of the third one)–and tell me again exactly what they're going to disagree about? No wonder even Dem Party chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, never the brightest of bulbs, figured out that she'd better shorten the debate schedule so that somebody wouldn't be watching "Storage Wars" or Simpsons reruns instead.

So, of course, the ever-Dem-supportive media have come up with an imaginative narrative to explain why the viewer numbers tonight are expected to be in the snooze range: The GOP is the party of racists, homophobes, xenophobes, haters of the poor, and religious bigots–and we all know that evil is immensely entertaining. The Dems, by contrast are the good people: smart, responsible, caring, sober, and thus kind of boring.

Exhibit A: Brian Beutler, writing for the New Republic in a piece hand-tippingly titled "The Adults Take the Stage in the Democratic Debate." There, Beutler trots out so many Republican strawmen that I can hear a chorus line of them belting out "If I Only Had a Brain." 

But even absent Trump, Republican primary debates would probably draw bigger audiences than their Democratic counterparts. It isn’t wrong or biased to say that Democrats make comparatively boring television. But that isn’t a strike against Democrats, either. It’s a reflection of the fact that the Republican Party, unlike the Democratic Party, is dominated by reactionary voters, which makes its candidates prone to saying or doing outrageous things out of a sense of necessity.

A similar dynamic prevailed in 2012, even absent a uniquely incorrigible figure like Trump on stage to channel the modern right-wing Id. The GOP primary debates back then teemed with anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant, and homophobic sentiment. On different occasions, conservative audience members booed a gay soldier and cheered the proposition that the uninsured poor should be left to die.

Leaving the poor to die! That's Republicans for you!

Of course Beutler doesn't want to get into exactly what the dull Dem "adults" are going to say tonight–because, as Leon Wolf of Red State points out, the entire "debate" is likely going to consist of Hillary, Bernie, and Martin What's-His-Face falling all over themselves promising goodies to the electorate:

For instance, all the Democrats in the field* believe in “free” college. There is some disagreement amongst the Democrats as to whether only the first two years of college should be free, or whether all four years should be free, or whether college should be free as long as anyone wants to stay in college. They are, however, all in basic agreement that college learning should be considerably more free than it currently is.

They are likewise in agreement that the government should be in the business of forcing your employer to pay you more, which of course is a policy (according to them) that results in you getting more money for “free.” They are likewise uninamous that the illegal immigrants who are currently in this country should be given legal status for “free.” Birth control, including abortion? Likewise, the Democrats are here to argue mostly about who believes it should be “free” with the greatest amount of conviction.

Hillary, Bernie, and Martin Whatever are the "adults," all right. "Adults" as in those parents next door who gave the $32,000 birthday party for little Emily.