I think the current brouhaha over the questions asked of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama in the Philly shootout of a few days ago is quite amusing. Should George Stephanopoulos and Charles Gibson have queried these two over such trivial matters as absent flagpins or faulty Bosnia memories? Where was the substance?
Well, I say wearily, since when is substance a part of staged presidential "debates" these days? Where did anyone ever get the idea that real matters of importance are discussed in these so carefully managed events? Back in 1960, in the Kennedy-Nixon debates, moderated by the likes of Howard K. Smith, both candidates were actually asked about substantive issues and gave lengthy answers. But --aha! Since those watching on television decided that Kennedy won, simply because he looked a helluva lot better than Nixon, substance was almost entirely lacking the next time anyone even dared have another general election debate, which was in 1976, between Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford.
Ever since, tiepins, and "gotcha's" like "There you go again!" have ruled the day. This is why most people I know can seldom watch an entire debate all the way through. It's just too painful.
Friday, April 18, 2008
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