The Daily Sandwich

"We have to learn the lesson that intellectual honesty is fundamental for everything we cherish." -Sir Karl Popper

Location: Boston, Massachusetts, United States


Thursday, November 29, 2007

Debate, so to speak

It's really been something to read coverage of the Republican debate last night. While a genuine "man in the street" format would probably be pretty cool, it's just about impossible for me to imagine that it wouldn't be manipulated, tweaked and screened by ratings experts before airing-- which isn't any better than the staged "Town Hall" meetings, press conferences with plants (remember Jeff Gannon?), or pre-screened audiences and questions that have become the norm during the Bush years. At least until Hillary Clinton set up one question-- then it was a national scandal, of course.

But the most striking thing about it is, depending on your viewpoint, that A) so many inane things were uttered by the candidates, and B) the press was more than happy to give them a pass.

A few examples:

McCain: It was pretty depressing to see what a huge round of applause he received for blaming "American public opinion" for the loss in Vietnam. (Delusional.)

Also, McCain claimed every single soldier in Iraq supports the surge and a continuous U.S. presence there. (Disingenuous, if not delusional, and demagogic.)

Romney: When Romney refused to rule out [waterboarding]: "And I get that advice from Cofer Black, who is a person who was responsible for counterterrorism in the CIA for some 35 years."

Indeed, Black is the former head of the CIA's Counterterrorism Center. He was in charge there after 9/11, when the agency set up its network of secret prisons where "enhanced" interrogation techniques -- including waterboarding -- were allegedly carried out.

Oh, and in case you were wondering about Romney's judgment in asking for advice, Black is also vice chairman of Blackwater USA. (Stupid.)

Huckabee: To hear the press tell it, the best moment of last night's debate was when Mike Huckabee answered a question about whether Jesus would support the death penalty by saying, "Jesus was too smart to ever run for public office." Reporters were in awe. The Washington Post called it "the best line of the night.The Chicago Tribune said Huckabee hit the question "over the fence." It was the only quote from the debate Mara Liasson included in her NPR report.

But what reporters didn't note is that Huckabee was dodging a direct question on the very area -- the intersection of religion and policy -- on which he is building his campaign. The man whose ads call him a "Christian Leader" and who says his faith "defines me" wouldn't answer a pretty simple question on how his faith affects his opinion on a policy issue. (Oily.)

Hunter: Duncan Hunter said most troops are "conservatives" and uncomfortable serving with gays. (Demagogic, delusional, or both.)

Sad, huh?