Thursday, April 17, 2008


The major gripe among the blogosphere today: ABC News spent way, way too much time drilling Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama about their stumbles on the campaign trail instead of focusing on policy issues.

Bloggers at the liberal Daily Kos (which has a heavy Obama following) dedicated the most electronic ink against ABC’s Charles Gibson and George Stephanopoulos, the debate moderators.
One of the writers, Hunter, went so far as to say their handling of the debate was “so deeply embarrassing to the nation that it will be pointed to, in future books and documentary works, as a prime example of the collapse of the American media into utter and complete substanceless, into self-celebrated vapidity, and into a now-complete inability or unwillingness to cover the most important affairs of the nation to any but the most shallow of depths.”
Admittedly, I did not watch the debates last night (Go Rangers! Go Mets!), but how many debates have we had on the issues since December of 2007? 20? 30? 300?

Have any of them drawn any type of sharp contrast between the two candidates?

No. So what's the point?

The debate was clearly structured to try to draw some drama out of the proceedings, to put both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama on the hot seats about something and to let people see how they handle the stresses and strains of the campaign trail.

In that respect, it was a bit of an eye-opener, from nearly all accounts: Hillary Clinton handled herself like a pro, while Barack Obama could barely contain his frustration and contempt.

Guess maybe he knows now why a typical white person in Pennsylvania might cling to his religion and his guns, huh?

The only reasoned critique I've read of the debate comes from Will Bunch:
You implied throughout the broadcast that you wanted to reflect the concerns of voters in Pennsylvania. Well, I'm a Pennsylvanian voter, and so are my neighbors and most of my friends and co-workers. You asked virtually nothing that reflected our everyday issues -- trying to fill our gas tanks and save for college at the same time, our crumbling bridges and inadequate mass transit, or the root causes of crime here in Philadelphia. In fact, there almost isn't enough space -- and this is cyberspace, where room is unlimited -- to list all the things you could have asked about but did not, from health care to climate change to alternative energy to our policy toward China to the deterioration of Afghanistan to veterans' benefits to improving education. You ignored virtually everything that just happened in what most historians agree is one of the worst presidencies in American history, including the condoning of torture and the trashing of the Constitution, although to be fair you also ignored the policy concerns of people on the right, like immigration issues.
Fair enough.

So let me ask the journalists involved, and the bloggers and even Mr. Bunch: what have you been covering for the past seven months?

How many blogposts, columns, news analyses, prime time segments, have been devoted to any of the issues that Bunch delineates?

Not nearly as many about the debacle in Afghanistan over the past year, I'd wager, as have been written over Obama's "bitter" comment in just these past five days.

Even Bunch, later in his column, points out how many column inches have been devoted to Reverend Wright, and the Bosnia trip and Obama's foot-in-mouth disease...does anyone else wonder how an eloquent man can have so many "misspokes" and "inartful phrasings"? What kind of scam is Obama running on us?... but one wonders why so many column inches haven't been devoted to, say, the PTSD problems of returning Iraqi and Afghani vets?

I picked that topic because, you know, Katrina and I at Simply Left Behind have both been all over it these past four years. I'd bet not many other blogs have been.

It's kind of disingenuous to whine about ABC's debate format when in fact, they are merely responding to the vox populi: all of us, myself included, have harped on these niggling issues at the expense of the larger stories around us.

For myself, I claim a lack of time and an interest in increasing my hit counter.

And so what does that tell you, all of you who are complaining about ABC's dismal performance? People aren't going to read about oil prices. People are going to read about Obama's bigotry and Clinton's prevarications.

End of discussion. Now shut the hell up about it.