Ron's big chance?

There's joy and rapture among the Ron Paul Revolution today. And while I hate to throw cold water on things, a word of caution is in order.

First came word that one candidate after another is bailing on the Republican version of the CNN/YouTube debate scheduled for next month. Seems Mitt Isuzu and Generalissimo Giuliani saw the Democrats' version on Monday and were, for whatever reason, spooked. Indeed the only candidates who've actually committed to the event are John McCain… and Ron Paul.

And there was much rejoicing in the land.

Then came word the University of Nevada-Reno is inviting only the top four candidates in each party to a debate next month — and on the GOP side, Ron Paul makes the cut.

And there was even more rejoicing.

But I wonder whether either of these debates will actually happen.

The celebration over the Nevada one seems especially premature. The invites went out only this week for an event less than one month away. And while the proposed event is loosely connected with ABC News, ABC's own debate calendar makes no mention of it.

But the YouTube one might still come off. For one thing, several mainstream Republicans are getting itchy about the prospect of the front-runners pulling out. And even if they don't take part, it would be awkward indeed for CNN and YouTube, having made such a big deal of the unique format, to hold a debate for the Democrats, then call it off for the Republicans. And all the organizers, including the Florida GOP, are still putting a sunny face on things.

Still… Some quarters of mainstream media are already writing it off.  Conservative columnists are urging the front-runners to stay away.  Democrats have already set a precedent for bailing out of a debate on account of an objectionable forum — in their case, Fox News.  The national party could conceivably strong-arm the Florida GOP into giving up.

I fervently hope Ron Paul gets a chance to show that unlike Giuliani and Romney, he's willing to take incoming fire from off-the-wall YouTubers.  It would be an outstanding opportunity.  But I'm also a realist, and at the moment, I rate the chances at only 50-50.