17 April 2008

Dem Debate

We've scanned the web to get a general sense (salute) of last night's Democratic debate and have been surprised to find that we disagree with most people--at least, according to the Drudge Report poll.

We thought Hillary was sharp, composed, articulate, funny at times, and generally, good. Obama was less impressive than usual. And we don't mean, less impressive according to the standard he set for himself. He seemed less articulate and more convoluted in his logic than we have seen him in the past. We were especially bothered by his default tack: lecturing.

George Stephanopoulos was good. Charlie Gibson was also good. We were shocked, shocked that these two guys actually put hard questions to the two candidates. This was a sharp departure from the love-fest nature of past Dem debates.

On Monday was we drove somewhere, we listened to the Sean Hannity show on the radio. We don't listen to Hannity very often, but when he has an interesting guest, we like to tune in. And on Monday, he talked to Karl Rove and George Stephanopoulos. Sean wanted to know why the press hadn't asked Obama about William Ayers. We won't get into the nitty gritty of the relationship, suffice it to say that Obama's relationship with this admitted terrorist is troubling.

Stephanopoulos has taken a lot of flak today for posing that, and other questions, to Obama. What do these people think? That McCain or anyone else is going to let Obama slide on these things in the general election? The only reason Obama has been as successful as he has been so far is because the press has treated him differently to how they have treated Hillary Clinton.

And this may be the wonderful irony of this election. Because of the press' love for Obama, they may in fact be doing him a disservice by not giving his record the vetting and scrutiny it might normally get during this stage of the campaign. As a result, things are going to come out in the general election--Chicago machine--that will seem like they are being sprung on or swift-boated on the Obama campaign. The truth? The press won't have done it's job so it will take that long to be found out by bloggers or some other source.

This is the double edge of the fawning press sword. Sure, he gets good, free, propaganda from the MSM, but because they don't ask the tough questions he doesn't have to sort through any of the tough things in his past. And we suspect this stuff will come back to bite him.

We first read Stephanopoulos' book, All Too Human, back in 2002. It was fascinating for a number of reasons: it was a window into Clinton's presidency and showed the man to be a flawed genius; it talked extensively about the policy development and rivalries among the Clinton staff; it illuminated interesting points in American history. Now, Stephanopoulos' book suffers from all the same problems common to memoirs: it is hugely tainted by the bias of the author.

It has but one source.

Still, Stephanopoulos seemed pretty fair in the book. He didn't point a finger at everyone else and exculpate himself. He certainly showed himself to be a smart, fair, and idealistic young Democrat. We obviously don't agree with his politics, but his book presented him as fairly reasonable.

And after last night's debate, he gained a whole lot more credibility in our eyes. He asked tough questions of both Hillary and Barack--questions no one else seems to be asking. Partisan supporters of both camps certainly didn't like Stephanopoulos' questions, but we sure did.

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RD said...

Good analysis.

Each of Obama's little relationships, statements, and attitudes is not significant by itself. But, when taken together, they reveal that Obama is nowhere near the whitewashed picture he has presented, and the media has allowed, to the public. I still think he will beat Hillary, but perhaps his favored status in the press will not protect him from the Republican machine. I think it will reveal him for what he is: a well-intentioned, run-of-the-mill politician with some very concerning attitudes about America, white people, and himself.

Ben Treasure said...

Did anyone else find it ridiculous when, during the opening hour of mindless, superfluous drivel, both candidates were told (not asked, told) to go on the record in saying they would take the other as a running mate?

Republicans are loving this slug fest because both candidates are doing the dirty work that the RNC won't have to. It pains me that the upper echelon at the DNC has yet to flex any muscle here to end this nonsense. Then again, as a Democrat, it does not surprise me. My party refuses to show rhetorical or professional backbone at a time when not only would is it easiest to do so, but also when it is needed most.

Ben Treasure said...

The following is a very accurate and fair analysis of this debate:


& Part II:


RD said...

This self-destructive behavior is not unique to the Dems. Before Romney dropped out, I was certain that the GOP wanted to divide themselves into irrelevancy. The way they handled McCain's victory was disgusting - with the talk show hosts leading the way. Romney certainly didn't help.

The GOP was just lucky that they got their stuff sorted out early. The Dems look like they might drag this out indefinitely. If McCain is smart, he'll keep his mouth shut and let the Dems tear each other down all the way to the convention.

kevin swiss said...

It's amazing how the nomination and election process can show you so much about what a candidate could be capable of in the White House, but at the same time, it tells us almost nothing.

buruboi said...

This debate was mildly interesting because of the genuine attempt it made to hold politicians feet to the fire. Obama did have his feet roasting longer than Hillary did, but this likely leveled the playing field considering the free pass Obama has received from the media. Still, the debate fell short in my view, by failing to ferret out meaningful differences between Obama and Hillary.

Debates in general are jokes. They skim on the surface of a variety of issues of which many our less significant to the majority of voters interests. A more substantive format in which candidates were required to disclose policies proposal with their justifications and broad implications would be far more preferable to the current nothingness we get from CNN and co. This would be a policy wonks dream come true, but probably over the heads of most voters. Perhaps developing political and economic literacy among Americans (and the media) would remedy the woes in presidential debates.