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.
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.
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.