For instance, it's been widely reported that while answering a question about abortion, Rudy Giuliani's microphone was cut by a lightning strike. "Clearly, God is pissed at Rudy," commentators have laughed. But look at the damned question he was trying to answer:
Mayor Giuliani, there was some news here today. A Catholic bishop in Rhode Island said some words about your position on abortion, suggesting that it was similar to Pontius Pilate's personal opposition to Jesus Christ's crucifixion but allowing it to happen anyway.
How does that make you feel when you hear words like that from a Catholic bishop?
See, this is why I'll never be elected to any office. I'd have answered, "It makes me feel like it's a stupid question. My position is the position of millions of americans -- in fact, the majority -- and this idiot is insulting us all. My response to the bishop would be to invite him to kiss my ass."
Putting aside whether my answer was any good, it is a stupid question. "Some guy no one has ever heard of outside of Rhode Freakin' Island -- population 3 -- said something outrageous about you," Blitzer might as well have said. "Respond."
Debates are meant to inform, not entertain. But Blitzer has been acting like the host on a game show -- Who Wants to be President? At this point, just about everyone is an undecided voter and, assuming that you're trying to figure out who to vote for, what questions would you ask? Would this be one?
[SCOTT] SPRADLING (Political Director of WMUR-TV, NH and co-moderator): Gentlemen, last night (sic) we asked Democrats, if they were elected, what role -- would they use former President Clinton. I'm not going to ask you that. (Laughter.)
SEN. BROWNBACK: Thank you.
MR. SPRADLING: But Governor Thompson, I'd like to know, seeing as how you were a member of President Bush's Cabinet as Health and Human Services secretary, how would you use George W. Bush in your administration?
I doubt it. Again, it's a stupid question. What is this, The Dating Game? Seriously, how much less informative would it have been if Spradling had asked, "Let's say I'm a banana split -- candidate number 1, how would you top me?"
A CBS News/New York Times Poll asked, "What do you think is the most important problem facing this country today?" and got these answers in this order; War in Iraq, Economy/Jobs, Gas/Heating oil crisis, Immigration, Health care, Terrorism (general), President Bush, Environment, Moral values/Family values, Poverty/Homelessness, and Foreign policy. (Don't you love how there's a measurable percentage who think President Bush is 'the most important problem facing this country today?')
Given that list, it's a little hard to justify this question to Democrats:
MR. BLITZER: All right. We're going to move on to the next question. But before we do, one related question. And I'm going to periodically ask you to raise your hand if you agree or you -- if you agree with the question.
And I want you to raise your hand if you believe English should be the official language of the United States. (Pause.) The only hand I see is Senator Gravel.
Yes Wolf, let's ask the questions that polls show no one freakin' cares about. And a show of hands? What is it about the word 'debate' that confuses you? He did the same thing to GOP candidates with a question about evolution. Sen. Sam Brownback's been explaining his answer ever since -- something he should've been able to do on that stage. It's not a freakin' quiz.
And Brownback has other things to complain about -- as does Mike Gravel, Tommy Thompson, Joe Biden, Dennis Kucinich, Jim Gilmore, etc. If you're not a fruntrunner, you're wallpaper.
Daily Press, Virginia:
Republican presidential hopeful Jim Gilmore had to sit on the sidelines Tuesday night during most of a two-hour presidential debate that featured 10 GOP candidates.
The former Virginia governor barely had a few minutes to speak during the 120-minute debate from New Hampshire that was televised commercial-free on CNN.
Again, how is this a 'debate?' Wolf Blitzer made sure to farm plenty of quotes from Clinton, Obama, Giuliani, Romney, Edwards, and McCain -- everyone else was an afterthought.
In case you haven't noticed yet, my argument is that the CNN hosted debates have sucked. A while back, there was a minor controversy over FOX hosted dem debates -- they finally fell through. But has CNN been any better than everyone was afraid FOX would be? Not that I can tell.
Anyone hoping to learn anything from these debates should be disappointed. If they were designed to keep you ignorant, they couldn't have done a better job.
Technorati tags: politics; elections; 2008; Republican; Democrat; Say it with me, "I watched the CNN-hosted New Hamshire debates and I'm just as dumb now as I was before -- maybe dumber!"