Random commentary and senseless acts of blogging.
The first Republican president once said, "While the people retain their virtue and their vigilance, no administration by any extreme of wickedness or folly can seriously injure the government in the short space of four years." If Mr. Lincoln could see what's happened in these last three-and-a-half years, he might hedge a little on that statement.
Prisoners of Azkaban
Friday, January 23, 2004
Last night's debate was a fairly staid affair. nobody had any triumphs, and nobody made any huge mistakes. Edwards did goof some on the meaning of the Defense of Marriage Act, and Dean contradicted some of his past positions on guns. His current moderate position including support for a renewal of the assault weapons ban is probably fine with many gun owners, but isn't the sort of stance that gets you 100% NRA ratings. Dean is on record in the past as having opposed restrictions on assault weapons ownership.
Noted statesman Al Sharpton was asked for his positions on foreign policy, monetary policy, and civil rights. By contrast, Wes Clark was asked only gotcha questions which generally avoided issues at all. Clark made the mistake of answering these questions, which meant he had little opportunity to discuss his platform.
The most striking of these was when Jennings asked Clark to attack his supporter Michael Moore for having called Bush a deserter. Jennings, who surely knows the facts, simply lied by claiming that Moore's charge was without any reasonable factual basis. Jeffrey Birnbaum, doing the play by play over Fox radio, repeated Jennings' lie. Birnbaum also expressed amazement that Clark hadn't examined Moore's allegations, apparently unaware that, since neither Clark nor his campaign has made any such charge against Bush, there is no reason why he should have done so.
Lying and spinning aren't the only traditional prerogatives of politicians that Jennings took over in this debate. Jennings in particular treated the evening as a forum for himself, rather than the candidates. CJR performed the tedious job of counting every speaker's words and found that Jennings, at 1870, spoke more than the average output of 6 of the 7 candidates. Only John Edwards, through the expedient of simply ignoring his time limits, was able to talk substantially more than Jennings.
In general this debate, like the 2 dozen or so before it, was forgettable and had little importance other than perhaps preparing the eventual winner for his face-off with Bush. The whole format is broken, but I confess to having no really bright ideas about how to fix it.