The media appears to be ticked, too. I had wondered whether they'd let it go in order to defend their own, but once a few voices started saying "this is terrible", I think everybody realized that a pile-on was going to happen, so they commenced with the piling-on. Self-fulfilling prophecies are occassionally kind of nice that way.
But what about the public? Well, Brooks argued (in his typical insipid, insulting way) that the public was all for it, because they care about character issues. That would be a fair point, if what ABC was badgering the candidates on were legitimate character issues. They aren't. He knows they aren't, but he knows the side his bread is buttered on, and knows that his job is to attack Obama now. So he does it. Still, he does raise the question: does the public care?
Well, care of Glenn, we have an answer:
Here is one poll in which the Philadelphia Daily News asked its readers what they thought of the way the ABC debate was conducted:Yeah, so despite Brooks' frantic (and lonely) spinning, the public clearly saw it as nonsense too. Which makes sense; while "character" might matter in situations like the 1990s where prosperity and peace reigned, these days there are gigantic problems out there and they're pretty worried.
I don't know how reliable the polling method was, but still, that's rather decisive -- 85% said the debate was either "disappointing" or "terrible" due to its focus on petty matters. It's the exact opposite of what their self-anointed Spokesman, David Brooks, claimed they believe.
Even 2004 wasn't that goofy an election. Bush won partially because of the gay marriage thing, but he also won because of a very real perception of insecurity, and Republicans' control of that issue. That doesn't mean the public is all of a sudden going to start voting based on flag pins.
I know Brooks has a job to do, and people to please (hint: not his NY Times editors), but he should probably let this go.