On Last Night’s Debates
It seems the blog world is almost universally panning how ABC ran last night’s debate so I thought I’d present a different view – that being from David Brooks:
Democrats, and especially Obama supporters, are going to jump all over ABC for the choice of topics: too many gaffe questions, not enough policy questions. I understand the complaints, but I thought the questions were excellent. The journalist’s job is to make politicians uncomfortable, to explore evasions, contradictions and vulnerabilities. Almost every question tonight did that. The candidates each looked foolish at times, but that’s their own fault … We may not like it, but issues like Jeremiah Wright, flag lapels and the Tuzla airport will be important in the fall. Remember how George H.W. Bush toured flag factories to expose Michael Dukakis. It’s legitimate to see how the candidates will respond to these sorts of symbolic issues.
I didn’t see the debates and since hackazoid Brooks loved them, I concluded that I didn’t miss much at all. Another hat tip to Andrew Sullivan for his review of the review by Brooks:
So Lee Atwater wins by default? We are losing a war, we have destroyed our fiscal future, the planet is in distress, we have effectively quit the Geneva Conventions, the economy, propped up by massive public and private debt, is teetering … and we all have to actually defend the fact that this election will be decided on the basis of closet Muslims, flag lapel pins, and ’60s terrorists? Brooks actually gives ABC News an “A” for their questions. The job of debate moderators is to generate an actual discussion about the issues and questions that matter in deciding between two candidates. They make an editorial choice about what those questions are. To focus almost exclusively on idiotic process questions based on the lowest form of political debate imaginable is an editorial choice to run a tabloid freak show. I see no reason to excuse Obama’s bad performance. But I cannot fathom why we should exonerate the execrable standards of ABC News at the same time.
Last night’s debate represent a shining example of what is wrong with our modern political processes. That David Brooks gets any space with the New York Times is an example of what is wrong with our modern journalism.