I had to hear what the hype was about.
Everyone was talking about ABC News' Democratic Debate, promoted to death as a "Rumble in the Jungle" sort of bonanza and I didn't watch it because ... there had been more than 18 Democratic Debates already.
I just didn't think anything new could come out of yet another one of these two-hour "respectfully-disagree-a-thons" where everyone's answers are about the same and all the squabbling is petty.
But after a listen on YouTube it seems this time, rather than Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama niggling over health care plans and who going to end the war in Iraq fastest, ABC decided to act a damn fool.
Charlie Gibson: Pledge now that which ever one of you wins this contest you'll take the other as your running mate and that the other one will agree if they lose to take the second place on the ticket. So I put the question to both of you, why not?
No one should actually be surprised that ABC's Charlie Gibson and George Stephanopoulos spent the first 45 minutes of the debate discussing former members of the Weather Underground, flag pins and "electability." The news coverage of the entire race has been an examination in belly button lint. All these non-events have been treated as serious political discourse simply because they pop up on YouTube and spread virally through e-mail.
"(This is the) manufactured issue that our politics has become obsessed with and once again distracts us from what should be my job when I become commander-in-chief," Obama said.
Why not reduce the debate to questions about Barack Obama's patriotism? He's not wearing a flag pin. Obviously he hates America! And because I don't spell women with a "y," I'm obviously not a real feminist. And because I'm single and childless obviously I'm anti-family and hate children!
It was unseemly, but TV journalism has been unseemly for awhile. It's simply new to see ABC, a well-monied, Disney-owned broadcast network, handle this so sloppily. Even CNN's Anderson Cooper and Wolf Blitzer would have mixed the inane with the serious. I'd hope wouldn't open with the "Hold hands and kiss! C'mon! You know you want to do! Do it! We all want you to do it and run together for president!" question.
Even the, "oooo, so-not-scary" Chris Wallace and Brit Hume at FOX might have mixed it up (although some are claiming FOX's Sean Hannity fed Stephanopoulos some of his more brow raising haymakers). But 45 minutes of damning fluff meant only to impugn Obama's character with the whole "secret Muslim/America-hater" gambit?
Obama was once seen eating a bratwurst during the Taste of Chicago. Bratwursts created by Germans. Germans were responsible for World War II so ... dear God! OBAMA HEARTS HILTER! Al Qaeda, Castro, Louis Farrakhan and Rev. Wright together at last!
There are so many legitimate ways to criticize Barack Obama. There are so many legitimate questions. Like his voting record. I realize it's not as long as others, but there is still an actual voting record full of, you know, FACTS that one could base their questions on.
But never mind me. Please. Continue discussing all that nothing. Let us talk about "elitism," even though our country was founded by "elites." Let's talk about voter "antipathy" in Pennsylvania because Obama was smoozing at a San Fran fund raiser saying shit you say at a San Fran fund raiser. Let's talk about Rev. Wright and The Weather Underground and Clinton's Bosnia flub.
Let's all fiddle together while Washington burns.
If the American experiment fails it won't be because we've been taken over by another country or that the Average Joes have come down with a case of Al Qaeda Fever. We're going down because we're a nation of fools. A nation of children who want everything for nothing. Who want their bridges to not fall down, but don't want to pay taxes. Who want to waste what tax money there is on people, places and things that don't need them in the first place. Who want war but want someone else to go fight it. Who want to reap the rewards but none of the consequences. Who want cheap goods and services, who want cheap food and labor but don't want to own up to what has to be done to keep those goods and services cheap, that we are a nation of snakes swallowing our own tails whole.
But please. Don't mind me, Charlie and George, CNN and FOX, Paris Hilton and Britney Spears, Akon and Lil' Wayne. Please continue to celebrate the dumb and decadent. Our bedazzled ignorance is growing in numbers to the point that one day we will be like Moby, we will be all made of stars, legions of mirrors glistening, reflecting back upon ourselves onto the YouTube's of our desires and Andy Warhol's cliched 15 minutes turns to an operatic aria of self-masturbatory narcissism where you don't need to be rich or "elite" to obtain.
PS. I too found it highly suspect that Stephanopoulos told Clinton he did not want to ask her about the "Bill Richardson = Judas" thing. Maybe they were trying to go light on Hillary Clinton because they bought the hype. Maybe George felt some residual loyalty to the woman who's husband used to sign his checks. Who knows. George really shouldn't have helmed the debate for those reasons alone.
I haven't really gotten into the Richardson flap because I don't like the guy.
Last year I had to do a lot of research on No Child Left Behind and I found his pandering on the issue rather disgusting. He was advocating repealing it, but wasn't offering anything that would actually fix the inequities in our education system. This was made doubly disgusting as his state was rife with education problems too.
I also thought for an intelligent man he came off as a moron on every morning show I saw him on. Tim Russert beat him down so bad on Meet the Press last fall I'm positive Richardson has PTSD over it.
Richardson has his good points and can even come off as a likable guy, but I didn't see Richardson's endorsement of Obama as a "good" thing. It wasn't bad because the only person it hurt was Hillary Clinton. Richardson was their guy and he went with Obama. But for all his talk about Obama being the guy for America I felt it was more about Obama being the guy for Richardson. He wants to ride Obama's coattails like he road the Clintons'. So, if I were in the Obama camp I'd keep an eye on that dude.
He's up to no damn good.