You Know, Those Philly Debate Questions, Maybe Not A Bad Thing

April 17, 2008

I had to work today, so en route I had a chance to listen to the righty talk radio personalities gloat over what happened last night in the Democrat’s debate, as well as their mocking of the various lefty blogs and op-ed columnists’ whining about it.   So, I figured that I’d check out some more of the reactions and post a few thoughts…

I’ll admit that, at first, I was pretty dismayed that ABC’s Charles Gibson and George Stephanopolous spent so much time focusing on the sort of trivial tabloid-esque “issues” such as flag pins, Bosnia gaffes, and yet another trip down Wright avenue, instead of focusing on the actual issues (you know, the ones that the candidates feature on their campaign sites, like Iraq, immigration, national security, etc.).  And throughout the day on memeorandum, I saw plenty of commentary from blogs echoing that sentiment.   But the more I thought about and read and digested all this, the closer I came to the conclusion that this wasn’t really that bad.  In fact, maybe Stephanopoulos and Gibson did the Dems a big favor.

This epiphany came when I revisited No More Mister Nice Blog, which had a post titled “THE REPUBLICAN TALKING-POINT DUMP, OTHERWISE KNOWN AS THE DEMOCRATIC DEBATE“.  I came to realize that the title described what happened pretty accurately.  If there are these various talking points out there (and Hannity won’t shut up about them, trust me), wouldn’t it be better to just put it all on the table, let them respond to them on the public stage, get it out of their collective systems and then put it behind them sooner rather than later?   If, as Rush Limbaugh mentioned today, those things are going to come up in the general election, would it be such a bad thing to have addressed them preemptively?  In the very least, it’s practice (for both of them), and if they weren’t paying attention to this stuff before, they sure as heck will now, so it would make it harder for the 527’s and others to blindside them with it and force them to waste countless dollars shooting back when they’d otherwise be spending it making their distinctions known on the real stuff.

Also, this is the 21st debate.  I suppose one could make the argument that the majority of the policy differences between Obama and Clinton have been covered by now.  From that perspective, it’s a little harder to view the first 45 minutes of the session as a complete waste of time. 

So, how did Obama handle it?  Fairly well, in my opinion, although he could have done better.  It was clear that he really didn’t want to go down this road, ’cause at times he didn’t look entirely comfortable and even slightly perturbed.   But he made it through, and at this point what he should do is brush it off…

…and move on.

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  1. You’re right, as usual!
    When McCain trots out these diversions, people will tune him out; by then all this nonsense will be old news.

  2. I don’t know. It seems like journalists are important people who get to drive the public debate. Why drive it into the ditch? Just so it won’t get driven there later?

    It’s not the job of journalists to do that. It’s their job to create informed, reasonable debate on very important issues. It’s not the job of the media to help the candidates get stuff out of their collective systems.

    It might be good for the candidates’s image, but it’s not good journalism.

  3. On my blog, I pointed out that ole Charlie Gibson & George Stephanopolous weren’t wearing their US flag pins. Oopsie! How embarrassing for the right wingers! Foiled again at their own game. Bah hahahahahaha! What a bunch of losers.

  4. I think all of this helps Obama since most his support is from people who want a change in politics as usual. Despite of all of the lame Obama controversies he is still gaining on Hillary in PA. It gives me hope in the general election people will turn away from fear, negativity, and the non-issues of past Bush campaigns.

    I do think we need to change the way debates are run. They have become useless since the media has started to host them. Why can’t we go back to groups like the League of Woman Voters running the debates?

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