Fox News Gets It Dead Wrong!
John Webster (1580?–1634)
The last debate before the Iowa Caucuses! The horserace is on in earnest, the bets are being laid, and the Punditocracy was slavering over who would attack who - Mitt on Huck? Fred on Rudy? Alan Keyes on....just EVERYBODY??? (They were right about that). They strapped themselves in, giddy as children, to watch the GOP carnage.
But this debate was being hosted by Iowa PBS and the venerable Des Moines Register, and the single questioner was editor Carolyn Washburn, not some familiar Beltway type who could be disposed of with the usual 15 second bio. Ms. Washburn had other ideas. "By the time I get on stage, I will have spent between one and four to five hours with most of the candidates,'' she said. "I got to look them in the eye and get a sense of who they are.'' David Yepsen, the Register's veteran political columnist, said that the candidates should expect a grilling by Washburn. "She asks tough questions and pointed questions,'' he said. "She doesn't mess around. She's really being diligent about this.''As Carolyn Washburn began her questoning, she said, "We'll dig in on issues that need more clarification. Iraq or illegal immigration may come up because, of course, everything is interreoleated, but we're not going to spend concentrated time on those" (as opposed to CNN, which devoted the entire first half of the SnowHoax Debate to the single issue of illegal immigration). Here are some of the 'dull' questions that were asked -
The Comptroller General of the United States said that the US faces a tsunami of debt that is a great threat to our national security. Does you agree that our country's financial situation creates a national security risk, and why or why not? (As it happens, this was the first question, and it caused Porcupine to sit up in his green leather chair a litle bit.)A TRANSCRIPT of the debate is here, and a link to video at Iowa PBS is HERE.
What sacrifices would you ask Americans to make for debt reduction?
What about the relationship between international trade and human rights violations?
What segment of taxpayers - poor, middle class, wealthy or corporate - are paying more than their fair share under the current system?
What specific changes would you make to NAFTA?
Do you think it's more important for the next President to be a fiscal conservative or a socail conservative?
What government program is vital enough that you would be willing to run a defecit in order to sustain it?
What educational standards does the U.S. need to adopt or improve to compete in the global economy, what will you do to moveus to those standards, and what's your timetable?
Aah, but where were the FIREWORKS? Fred Barnes said the debate was dull and groused that it was all 'just stuff they had heard before'. WHERE? In what alternative debate universe? Mort Kondrake called Ms. Washburn 'Nurse Ratched' for having the temerity to actually enforce time limits. Porcupine wonered if this was a Fox phenomonon, and checked in with the others - Blitzer on CNN and MSNBC's Nora O'Donnell (not a relation to Larry O'Donnell, surely?) were also calling the debate dull and bland. The 'top tier' candidates didn't get to 'engage' one another one on one. The scrupulous inclusion of all candidates was such a drag! And the subjects - HOW can they compete with Bible Boy, or Stars and Bars, or Sanctuary Mansions? WHERE is the sound bite?
How insulting to the populace that the 24/7 mainstream television media universally decried the only debate with substance as not worthy of attention. They only want sizzle, and don't care about steak, and expect the rest of us to subsist on a diet of cotton candy, too, to make the headlines more shocking for the well-coiffed newsreaders that have replaced reporters on television.
Ath the end of coverage, Brit Hume sniffed that he didn't see how there would be any 'lead' for the news, as it was all so serious. He seemed to think that was a bad thing.