Unity at Last!

I’ve been reviewing the reviews of last night’s debate, and I’m happy to report the Left Blogosphere has come to a consensus:

Tim Russert is a jerk.

This is not a new consensus, but it’s nice to see everyone coming together on something.

Kevin Drum:

Seriously, though, can someone please put a sock in Tim Russert? I didn’t even see the entire exchange, but his badgering of Obama on the Louis Farrakhan issue was pretty wretched. It was maybe legitimate to bring it up in the first place, but to keep at it well after Obama had made his position crystal clear was beyond the pale.

Mustang Bobby:

Tim Russert asks a lot of questions he thinks everybody in the world wants to know the answers to, but in fact they are high-school forensics exercises in gotchas. The one about Louis Farrakhan to Senator Obama was just lame. What did he expect Mr. Obama to say, that he’s doing his own version of “I’m F***ing Matt Damon” with Mr. Farrakhan?


From tax returns to Farrakhan to footage shown by “mistake” to the endless, trivial, gotcha bullshit, this debate spectacle tonight was a classic demonstration of what people really hate about politics. It isn’t actually the candidates who can at least on occasion be substantive and serious. The problem is Tim Russert and all his petty, shallow acolytes who spend all their time reading Drudge and breathlessly reporting every tabloid tidbit and sexy rumor and seeking out minor inconsistencies from years past in lieu of doing any real work.

Judging by their silly questions tonight, Russert and Williams obviously know nothing about health care policy, Iraq, Islamic terrorism, economics, global trade or any other subject that requires more than five minutes study to come up with some gotcha question or a stupid Jack Bauer fantasy. It’s embarrassing.

As for the candidates, opinions seem to be highly colored by the commenters’ preferences — Clinton supporters believe Clinton won; Obama supporters believe Obama won. Even those commenters who thought the debate was a draw are split between those who think both candidates were sharp and those who think both candidates needed a nap, followed by a long vacation and possibly retirement.

My opinion is that I hope this was the last Clinton-Obama debate. By now what few substantive differences these two have on policy have been discussed. The only reason to continue debating is in the hope that one of them really screws up and makes a total fool of him- or herself. You know that’s what Russert et al. want.

Is it me, or does it seem we’ve gone overboard with debating? I think some debates are grand, because it forces the candidates to come out from behind their packaging and marketing strategies. But at some point this year we’ve crossed the line from informing the voters to reality television — who’s going to screw up and be sent home?

Enough, I say.

16 thoughts on “Unity at Last!

  1. I just can’t watch Russert and I refuse to do so. If he is going to be driving the bus for information then I am walking. I agree that we are suffering from “debate fatigue” and I cannot see anything more that can help us differentiate between the two. We are now down to emotion when it comes to deciding who to support.

  2. I think the phrase “bloated gasbag” is apt for Timmy.

    I’d like the Dems to stand down now, and prep to whale on McCain in November. There’s a new poll out (LA Times/Bloomberg, I believe) that says both Obama and Hillary would have trouble beating McCain…impossible as that is to believe. I got the impression that those polled didn’t grasp McCain’s position on Iraq at all.

  3. Enough already with the ‘debates’ – which they really aren’t anyway. Let’s face it, politicians, narcissists that they are, can’t ever get enough media exposure. The media, greed-freaks that they are, will always grab any opportunity to increase their audience size and thus their advertising revenue.

    Put the two together and we have Russert etal and endless days, months even years of politicians exposing themselves – or Russert etal exposing them – in our living-rooms.

    Add to all that the huge sums of money spent by politicians on media advertising and it’s obvious the big winners in the end are the TV media. When there are big winners, there are bound to be a big losers – and here we sit.

  4. I agree with everything said so far. I used to love the show “Meet the Press” when notable people answered questions from top journalists from around the country. Since Russert took over as the moderator AND journalist, the show is nothing about which to get excited. If I want to hear someone read old speeches and newspaper articles, I’ll listen to my grandchildren. “Face the Nation” with Bob Schieffer retains more of its old qualities despite changing to a similar format as that of “Meet the Press.” The quality of these shows apparently rests in the character of the host/moderator.

  5. That debate was General Electric’s attempt to even things up for Hillary (not sure its gonna worked). Whether or not she wins is beside the point, they just need to have something to blather about. Plus why not have Hillary do the uncomfortable job of attacking an African American Senator? Because once its over GE and the republican party will have to take over the attacks. This could end up being a problem with some corporate advertising clients (though I’m sure the wingnuts will love it). Plus McCain-Clinton will be slightly more sensationalistic, better to sell some commercials and blather some more. GE and the rest of Corporate media is not interested in politics, or the “news business”, they are only interested in ad time and selling everything they have. Perhaps they did take it easy on Obama early on in the campaign, they just wanted to even things up with Hillary, makes for a much more marketable “newscast”. We should not be surprised when politicians or anyone gets attacked. The attacks are not based in ideology, just a great way to sell more bullshit. I think twenty debates is enough.

  6. It seemed clear to me that Russert thought he had Obama in a “gotcha” moment with the Farrakhan question and then when Obama finessed him, he couldn’t think of anything else to do but try the same thing again.

    I keep giving Russert the benefit of the doubt. I think I’ll stop doing that, now.

  7. The comments about the debate overload seems justified. Most of us who blog here have seen a lot of the debates, and know that we are rehashing old issues. I am not sure what fraction of voters HAVE watched any of the debates at all!

    I propose – in this era of computerization a test for the voters. If you can’t pass the test, you can’t vote. Nothing hard – be able to identify which candidate is the Democrat and which is Republican. Which one is in favor of extending the war in Iraq indefinately, and which one is for a speedy withdrawl. Which candidate favors universal health care, and which one wants to continue the current system with a few tweeks. Which candidate was a POW in the Vietnam conflict. Which candidate was an organizer in Chicago?

    You laugh, because anyone reading this blog would blow such a quiz away. But let a media group try it as a random poll; I suspect we would eliminate a third of the electoarate. And it’s frightening to me that the ignorant have the same power on election day as the informed.

  8. Russert seems to have lost the ability of actually asking questions. These debates become so redundant that it is pretty tough to listen to at all. I guess if I could say one thing it would be that I was pleased Obama seemed somewhat willing to respond in kind to the Clinton odd attack rhetoric she used. Can’t imagine what she was complaining about with the “…why do I always get the first question?…shouldn’t we all watch Saturday Night Live…?” remarks. Her complaining about an Obama letter about the health policy is clearly the pot calling the kettle black.

    I guess the one largest complaint about these “debates” I have is just that the politicians never actually say anything. They spent the first 16 minutes talking about the health care plans and Clinton didn’t answer if her plan would mandate us all to buy health care. I don’t feel comfortable having government tell us precisely how to live my life. Though I buy health insurance, I just feel better knowing I could always choose to spend money in a different manner. How can anyone not feel uncomfortable with this gradual reduction of personal decisions we can make on our own without government deciding for us? Anyway, I get carried away about these things sometimes.

  9. But, they really aren’t true debates, are they? It’s not the kind of debating you learn in the debate club, is it? It’s been so long since I saw a real debate, which was probably in college in the late 60s that I can’t remember. I’m too tired tonight, too, to expound on my once superb memory. I think my memory has just become a memory. Good night, all.

  10. “the ignorant have the same power on election day as the informed”

    Yes the beauty of freedom, Most of us are free to chose: ignorant or informed. But for the hateful, freedom is stolen from them, and informed is only a myth.

  11. Maha:

    You know I have my own blog. But if you don’t mind I would like to post another off topic rambler of mine……………

    Responsible tax cutting and some questions for the Right.

    Is not one of the fundamental principals of modern conservatism that we must work? Got to work before we get paid? Get a job. No giveaways, welfare is bad? Shouldn’t we approach tax cutting and government spending the same way? Cutting spending is work don’t you agree? (so hard in fact it never seems to get done) Tax cuts are the payoff, (I want some money). Cutting spending requires consensus (sometimes referred to as compromise), tax cuts only require a signature (where do I sign), almost like credit (bad credit)? Establishing spending priorities is tough stuff. Giving a tax cut is really easy, almost like a giveaway to anyone who will take it and vote.

    Do you want to take the easy way out?
    Do you ever get paid before you work?
    Do you want tax cuts before we cut spending and get out of debt?
    Do you want to wage a fighting war on credit?
    Do you think corporations will grow us out of debt?

    If your answer is yes to at least two of these questions then you my friend are a modern conservative. You want the money before you do the work. You want to win the war without really fighting. Your aim may actually be to bankrupt the government.
    What in the fuck are you thinking about?
    Are you really conservative?
    Or are you just a conservative?

    “I like the small black marks on my hand, I’m a conservative”~ Iggy Pop-Soldier.

  12. Uncledad:

    I was going to respond to Doug Hughes comment about not letting the ignorant vote but you said it so much more eloquently than I could have.

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