LAS VEGAS | Stop the madness. These debates cannot go on.
There were, literally, more candidates on stage for Tuesday night's Republican debate than there were at a Jeb Bush debate watching "party" in Miami.
Once again, in the name of "fairness," the media has utterly swindled the GOP.
By keeping the stage crammed with a couple of actual front-runners and cluttered with has-been also-rans like Ohio Gov. John Kasich, debate moderators are managing to do what once seemed impossible: boring voters even though real estate mogul Donald Trump is still on the debate stage. They will stop at nothing to water down the goliath front-runner for the GOP nomination.
Mr. Trump is ahead of the pack by a wider margin than Democrat front-runner Hillary Clinton, yet he is stuck scrounging for time on stage with at least five candidates who are getting beat in the polls by "margin of error."
Instead of a substantive debate with actual front-runners, we get these shoutfests with nine people, each one wasting their microphone time to complain about getting short shrift or barking at one another over irrelevant details.
The result is that they sound like a bunch of whining lunatics in an insane asylum having hysterical arguments over the remote control. Think "One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest" when Randle McMurphy just wants to watch the World Series: "Which one of you nuts has got any guts?"
It doesn't help that just about every question begins with, "Donald Trump said ...."
It is like some kind of therapy session for a group of people suffering from Donald Trump Derangement Syndrome. It got so bad Tuesday night that Mr. Trump himself finally called out moderators for making him a star of even the undercard GOP debate - which he wasn't even in.
"It was Trump this, Trump that," Mr. Trump said, rolling his eyes. "I think it was very unprofessional."
Adding to the bizarreness was some person off camera who kept coughing and sniffling into a microphone. Was that one of the candidates? One of the moderators? Or was it some kind of special effect that was piped in from the outside?
Message: GOP has sniffling coughing fits.
These people have been standing around on debate stages together so long that they have started morphing into one another - to varying degrees of success.
Jeb Bush tried stealing a page from Mr. Trump's playbook by insulting his way to his party's nomination. "He is a chaos candidate," Jeb said of Mr. Trump.
A bunch of them have even starting dressing alike. Mr. Trump, Jeb, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz were all wearing a white shirt, red tied and blue suit. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, being an executive, eschewed the white shirt for a pale blue one. But everything else was the same.
Thankfully, there was Ben Carson, being different and wearing a pinstripe (blue) suit and a patterned blue tie.
Then he opened his mouth and sounded like a graduate student badly flunking foreign affairs who had stayed up all night cramming for an exam.
But when he started talking about "terrorist malpractice," it was time to change the channel away from the good doctor and the 2016 GOP field.
Just as the media wants.
⦁ Charles Hurt can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter via @charleshurt