Last night was a perfect microcosm of how our political process works. The Right creates stupid, petty personality-based attacks to ensure that our elections aren't decided on issues (where they have a decisive disadvantage). Media stars -- some due to sloth, some due to ideology, some due to an eagerness to please the Right and convince them how Good and Fair they are -- eat up the shallow trash they're fed and then spew it out relentlessly, ensuring that our political discourse is overwhelmed by it, our elections dictated by it. That happens over and over. It's how our media and our elections function. Last night was just an unusually transparent and particularly ugly expression of it.No doubt.
But the big question was whether or not ABC would succeed in turning the attention on to Obama, instead of themselves. It was always a gamble to run such a ridiculous debate. If they got away with it they'd get controversial footage and lots of cred with the wingnuts who feed on this sort of thing. If they got called out, it could be a serious embarrassment.
The gamble didn't come out. When you've got Time Magazine castigating your questions as moronic and your moderator for having only a faint grasp of elementary logic, you've got serious problems. Whiny rightists aside, Time isn't exactly the friendliest venue for progressives. But here we are:
Last night at the National Constitution Center, at a Democratic debate that was hyped by ABC as a discussion of serious constitutional issues, America got to see exactly what Obama was complaining about. At a time of foreign wars, economic collapse and environmental peril, the cringe-worthy first half of the debate focused on such crucial matters as Senator Obama's comments about rural bitterness, his former pastor, an obscure sixties radical with whom he was allegedly "friendly," and the burning constitutional question of why he doesn't wear an American flag pin on his lapel — with a single detour into Senator Hillary Clinton's yarn about sniper fire in Tuzla. Apparently, Charlie Gibson and George Stephanopoulos ran out of time before they could ask Obama why he's such a lousy bowler.Yep. They're in trouble. Sure, it'll probably blow over eventually, certainly before McCain hauls out this footage in September or October to use against Obama, but in the meantime progressives are going to be ridiculously angry, and their fellow newsmedia types are going to lap it up.