Happy Father's Day
I hope all you dads are having a great day. But if it's less than perfect, remember it could be worse. You could be Anthony Weiner's dad listening to his resignation speech in which he thanks you and his mom for instilling in him "the values that carried me so far."
Aside from the resignation and the fact that the New York Times and Washington Post debased themselves in a treasure hunt through 24,000 Palin emails which only proved she's as decent, smart, down to earth as we thought, and a heck of an executive as well, the other big news of the week should be a united front from now on by the Republicans against participating in stupid make believe debates.
By my reckoning a debate is a formal discussion of a topic in which the participants get to put forth their positions. The point of them is to allow us to make informed opinions of which candidates to vote for. Somehow in America we have allowed this concept to be confused with "Survivor" or "American Idol" where the person who endures the most indignities or charms the judges wins . Substance has become irrelevant and when it comes to Republican candidates the situation is even worse, with the media sponsors staging the thing so that the candidates are made to look like fools or unresponsive robots or both.
After the Gwen Ifill moderated vice presidential debate last time , I thought they'd get the message, but, oh no, Republicans continue to fall for it. You remember, Ifill had a mash-note of a book to Obama ("Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama") in the works when she moderated the debate, although she never disclosed that to McCain when he agreed to have Palin participate. She didn't bother telling the audience either. The Commission on Presidential Debates imposed no guidelines on her. She had previously appeared on numerous shows flogging the book and done a fawning cover story for Essence titled "The Obamas: Portrait of an American Family." She was widely criticized for her coverage of Sarah Palin's speech at the Republican National Convention, many viewers complaining that she was dismissive and telegraphing her apparent disgust. See what you think.
It was my recollection, which could certainly be faulty, that in the debate she routinely cut off Palin's answers, gave Biden more time than he was entitled to, and otherwise parked herself full square on the scales in favor of the candidate in whose win she had a financial and professional stake. Here's the transcript of the debate, though that often is insufficient to convey the atmosphere and nuance of the event.
She obviously thought she'd been fair and that Sarah had been dismissive of her, though she disclosed "all the writers" had suggested to her questions designed to reveal, "who the hell do you think you are, Sarah Palin?" No one, she said, had written to suggest questions of Biden.
I think both candidates said what they intended to and paid little heed to Ifill's efforts to direct the "debate," but she suggested that Palin's nonresponsive answer to a question revealed she was not going to abide by the rules she'd agreed to. Minutes before in this video interview, she said in the 2004 debate she'd moderated, both Cheney and Edwards had been unprepared for one of her questions on AIDs and she dismissed that as just a preparation blip. Her anti-Palin animus is manifest.
Ifill was not the only moderator who might be considered unfair and biased in these political debates. A look behind the screen the League of Women Voters hides under reveals it is as partisan as Ifill or her colleagues are. And they've been getting away with pretending the debates they sponsor are evenhanded and non-partisan.
The most striking example is their recent $1.2 million campaign against Senator Scott Brown, which suggests he wants to choke asthmatic kids to death because he opposes letting the EPA regulate greenhouse gas emissions. The League failed to file an independent expenditure report for this pricey ad blitz; refuses to release its source of funding for it (although when it is not involved it has supported disclosure for political advertising); and its positions on major legislation generally seems indistinguishable from Democrat talking points.
It is but another of once non-partisan, civic institutions begun to advance the public weal which has been taken over by the left. It has a rotten core inside a once respected shell of an institution.
CNN's John King moderated this week's debate. Many of the questions were preposterous: Do you prefer Leno or Conan? Do you like your hot wings spicy or mild? There were too many candidates to allow for a real debate, in any event.
And as the candidates searched vainly for the camera and seemed at times (because of rotten staging) to be talking to outer space, King grunted as they tried to respond. It occurred to me that even Abraham Lincoln would look a fool in such a setting, and so it appeared to Iowahawk, who showed us what the Lincoln-Douglas debate might look like were it held today under these kinds of conditions.
Another media Republican debate gambit is to try to make as many of the candidates as possible look like Neanderthals concerned largely with social issues and uninformed on major matters. So even though they discussed broader policy issues like unemployment, taxes, regulations, economic growth, welfare reform and health care, the Democrats are able to selectively weed out responses that make it appear that all they care about are sharia, anti-gay marriage and Sarah Palin, topics King asked them to discuss.
In any event, the Democrats have refused to participate in any debate sponsored by Fox News network, and yet the Republicans seem perfectly willing to continue giving their ideological enemies a chance to shoot at them while they are disarmed.
It really comes down to this in my view: stop watching this nonsense. Even if by some magic, we could make these moderators and their questions fair, the set up is designed for two things -- trapping candidates into unfortunate locutions or watching them perform like trained seals, trying desperately to say something notable and substantive in a format and forum that is not designed for it.
Have someone all sides can agree is fair. Pick three broad topics. Give each candidate enough time to flesh out his position on each and rebut the opposition points, and stay out of it except to hold the candidates to the set times.
After all, what did we get from the last presidential debates but a president who this week adds to his string of nonsensical pronouncements by saying ATMs are responsible for unemployment , Not so, says Peter Kirsanow at NRO. He writes:
"The real problem with ATMS . is not so much that they destroy jobs, but that in at least 50 of 57 states you can't conduct transactions in Austrian, making it difficult to withdraw enough cash to spread the wealth around to Midwesterners, who then become bitter and cling to guns and religion and antipathy toward people who aren't like your doctor, who you can keep (if you like him) but you probably won't because for extra cash he unnecessarily performs tonsillectomies and amputates the feet of people from Kansas, where a while back 10,000 were killed by a tornado that also air-raided villages and killed civilians in Afghanistan, from which we need to begin withdrawing troops by July so we can use the funds to save or create jobs for people who don't use air pressure gauges to keep the tires on their cash-for-clunkers car properly inflated, requiring them to buy more gas than they otherwise would at $3.84 a gallon and thereby reducing their disposable income and causing them not to buy consumer products, resulting in slower GDP growth that can only be jumpstarted by another round of stimulus spending so the economy won't go into a double-dip recession that would result in layoffs and a higher unemployment rate than we had even after the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico that everyone knows was George Bush's fault.
Economics is hard."
Certainly, the sort of tough debates we had in 2008 failed to save us from electing someone moronic enough to believe all these untruths.