Adios, Tommy!

The final Republican debate before the Iowa caucuses was held last Wednesday. Tomorrow in Des Moines, Tom Tancredo is expected to drop out of the race.

The timing is no coincidene. Tancredo, a Colorado Congressman, used his status as a presidential candidate to secure invitations to every televised debate this year (there were about 47, I think) and to all sorts of high-profile G.O.P. events. But he raised little money and struggled to break the two percent barrier in most polls. With no debates left, the only thing Tancredo had to look forward to was a humiliating showing in Iowa in two weeks. By dropping out now, he avoids that.

The shame is how much time and space he took up, even though it was clear months ago that he wasn’t going to stir any meaningful interest in his bid. But every debate, he made it miserable for any viewer interested in watching some kind of dialogue between the legitimate candidates.

Some will credit Tancredo with making illegal immigration the hot issue it is on the Republican side. And it’s true that he pushed it earlier and more forcefully than many in his party, but he stopped being the primary – or even a prominent – force behind it even before he launched his candidacy. At his best, Tancredo was reduced to listening to the other candidates on the debate stage and then commenting that “they sound like me.”

Tancredo’s not the only one who has needlessly wasted viewers’ time in debates. Duncan Hunter, who has yet to drop out, belongs on that list, as does Alan Keyes.

Adios, Tommy!