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Not the Whip! ANYTHING but the Whip!


Hunter has a silly, petulant post up this morning (sorry, no link available as we’re honoring the strike) about how the media has sunk to a low point because it is focussed on tabloid debate questions. Hunter thinks a debate on issues is devoutly to be wished:

But even slanted questions could be forgiven, of the press; what was more inexplicable was the intentional wallowing in substanceless, meaningless “gaffe” politics. It says something truly impressive about the press that a few statements by a presidential candidate’s preacher bear far more weight to the future of our nation than the challenges of terrorism or war. It is truly a celebration of our own national collapse into idiocracy that we can furrow our brows and question the patriotism of a candidate, deeply probe their patriotism based on whether or not they regularly don a made-in-China American flag pin, but a substantive discussion of energy policy, or healthcare, or the deficit, or the housing crisis, or global climate change, or the government approval of torture, or trade issues, or the plight of one-industry small American towns, or the fight over domestic espionage and FISA, or the makeup of the Supreme Court — those were of no significance, in comparison.

Rich in PA tells Hunter why he should be careful what he wishes for:

As for the debate itself, from what I’ve read, it could have been way worse for Obama…after all, they hit him with silly stuff more than policy stuff, and policy is where he is a relative know-nothing (by choice, since obviously he’s smart enough to be a wonk if he thought it were worthwhile). So I completely understand why people are up in arms about ABC’s questions…they really were stupid, at least for the first hour. But the questions that a responsible organizer would have asked, well, they would have left Obama much worse off, because he wouldn’t have the out of saying the questions are trivial.

The Whip! The Whip!

Update: Ed Rendell (God love him.) messes with Chris Bowers’ head after the debate. Chris stamps his tiny feet and demands that ABC pay for this. Too good. Damn, I wish I’d been there.


57 Responses

  1. Cross-posted from the site that dare not speak its name:

    As you’ve noted, the questions he’s faced are pretty stupid, and since he’s not, he has been able to parry them just fine–with the qualified exception of Bittergate, which is after all based on his actual words rather than long-ago associations, so it’s his problem pretty much by definition.

    Genuinely hard questions for Obama:

    Would the continuation of Saddam Hussein in power, through 2008 and beyond, with the 2002 status quo of harsh sanctions and wild internal repression, have been acceptable to you?

    In Pennsylvania you run a TV ad that says the decline of steelmaking and other manufacturing is linked to the power of Washington lobbyists. Is that really your interpretation?

    Prior to the South Carolina primary, Clinton had a large majority of African-American support; then she was denounced as a racist (Bill too) and that support overwhelmingly went over to you. What, if anything, of the racism allegations against the Clintons do you think are legitimate? And if none of them are, does that make African-American voters dupes?

    How did your activity as a community organizer in Chicago improve the lives of the people you organized?

    What would be on the agenda in a future negotiation with Iran?

    The ethanol boom is a major factor in the worldwide increase in food prices, which has caused riots and instability in several poor countries and milder hardship even in wealthy countries like our own. As a leading supporter of ethanol, do you take any responsibility for this problem?

    You’ve won support from people who say Clinton is way too liberal, and from people who say she is way too conservative. How is that possible–not in terms of an electoral phenomenon, but in terms of a presidency that can satisfy that range of views?

    Are you comfortable, as the child of a short-term immigrant from Africa, with your de facto role as standard-bearer for African-Americans, whose history and culture you embraced (as your autobiography notes) by choice rather than by birth?

    That’s just a few of the things I’d like him to answer…and I don’t doubt that he could give credible answers to them, since he’s a thinker and he’s good with words. But please don’t tell me that he is being ripped apart, when the important stuff hasn’t even been broached.

  2. riverdaughter,

    Did Rich in PA post that comment at DK? I just went over there to look, but didn’t see it. I hardly even recognized anyone in the comments–all UID’s in the mid 150K’s. Check out the new Kos post on the FP in which he argues that Hillary is not a Democrat.

  3. BB: No he posted it here. Let me see if I can find a permalink

  4. Hey Rich–

    Great comment. I recced it while I was over there. The smell of cheetos drove me out though. Did you get a load of Kos’ latest?

  5. That’s OK riverdaughter. I’ll find it. I went to bed early last night before I could read everyone’s reactions.

  6. Waah waah waah!

    “Progressive” are whining because the media has been unfair to a Democrat in one debate? This is what has been going on with Hillary Clinton not only during this campaign, but since she became a national figure.

    Remember another Philadelphia debate? That was on 10/30/07 and it was moderated by Timmeh and his stepford wife Brian Williams.

    Here was Bob Somerby from Daily Howler

    Has there ever been a debate like this? A debate where the moderators so plainly intended to spend the evening trashing the character of one of the candidates? The only comparison we could dimly offer was Judy Woodruff’s gruesome performance in the final 2000 Gore-Bradley debate, where she worked so hard to express the outrage The Village felt against Big Liar Gore. (“They hate Gore,” Mickey Kaus wrote that week, surprised, having just arrived in New Hampshire.) As we’ve said, we’ll run through all Tuesday’s questions tomorrow—all the Clinton-sliming questions from this truly remarkable session. But have you ever seen a presidential debate where one candidate was essentially given two minders—where every word that came out of her mouth was immediately handed to her leading opponents for their inspection and review? In our view, it was embarrassing to see Edwards and Obama display the moral weakness required by such a cheap auto-da-fe. Only Richardson had the decency to say, out loud: “I just won’t go there.”

    Here was Jay Cost from Real Clear Politics

    In the first two segments, I counted thirty-three questions. Twenty-two of them were designed to facilitate either another candidate attacking Hillary Clinton, or Clinton responding to attacks (either from another candidate or from Russert). Indeed, all of the major subjects were structured around attacks on Clinton.

    Segment 1: How do Clinton, Edwards, and Obama Differ?
    Segment 2: What Shall We Do About Iran? This segment could have been geared toward a more substantive policy discussion to tease out differences between the seven candidates. However, Russert and Williams framed the questions around Kyl-Lieberman, thus encouraging the six Democrats who opposed the resolution to go after Clinton, who supported it.
    Segment 3: What Is Clinton’s Real Position on Iraq?
    Segment 4: What are Clinton’s Qualifications?
    Segment 5: Is Clinton Credible on Social Security?

    I’d add that the non-attack questions did not seem to be crafted with much care.

    Here was Taylor Marsh:

    There were 52 questions asked last night; 25 had to do with either Hillary or Bill Clinton, including very personal insinuations, with 22 of the 25 being abjectly hostile.

    Tim Russert asked 26 questions; 14 were to Clinton, with 5 directly targeting her personally.

    Is Roger Simon, Andrew Sullivan or anyone else talking about these facts?

    In contrast, Barack Obama got asked what he would do about air travel; whether there was life beyond earth; and the question on which all Americans’ safety depends, What are you going to dress as on Halloween? When the air travel question drooled out of Russert’s mouth I thought I’d accidentally hit the remote to the Travel channel. But Russert’s softballs to Obama when compared to Clinton were nakedly obvious to anyone paying attention. When you couple Russert’s penchant for his all boys pannels on “Meet the Press,” there’s only one conclusion to draw.

    What did we hear from the Big Boiz and other “Progressives”: “Hillary Clinton is a whiny bitch.”

  7. What I don’t understand is that I thought ABC news gave Obama the chance to get on record, in front of everyone, questions that ARE going to come up anyways in a general election. I mean…if ABC is going to do it, you know the republican 527s will. I thought that was an extremely convenient thing for Obama to have.

    It really shows the childishness of the Obama supporters that they are now having aneurysms, contacting ABC and heckling the moderators the moment Obama gets a FEW tough questions. If he gets the nomination it’s going to be a loooong, annoying election season.

  8. Just a reminder… every visit to DKos or TPM drives up their numbers. It’s not worth it. Let them drown in their own spittle without sending them ad revenues.

    In other words, don’t cross the picket line even for a snark snack.

    Just saying.

  9. MAblue – thanks for the reminder – do you happen to have a link for that Jay Cost piece ? .. if not, is o.k. – I will try to pick it up ..

  10. #
    PMS, on April 17th, 2008 at 11:35 am Said:

    Just a reminder… every visit to DKos or TPM drives up their numbers. It’s not worth it. Let them drown in their own spittle without sending them ad revenues.

    In other words, don’t cross the picket line even for a snark snack.

    Just saying.

    Exactly! Of course I never go there because they have nothing that I want to read anyway. Not the Little Orange Sippy Cup, no OpenLeft, not TPM, and definitely not Huffington Post.

    OT: One of the best ways to bring people together is to have them bond over a mutual threat or enemy. In our case it seems to be the banding against the Hillary Hate and sexism in general. It seems that this election has seen the building of a, dare I say it, feminist infrastructure. I make my way here several times a day but I generally don’t comment a lot because everyone else does such a great job of articulating what I already feel. I wonder what this infrastructure will look like after the primary and election and what can be done with it. Senator Clinton is not the only woman candidate who battles sexism.

  11. Words and associations don’t matter when it does not help “the one”

    These associations w/ radical people are scary but apparently that don’t matter to the DNC, Pelosi, Kennedy etc..

    The guy has been getting free advertisiing worth millions for over a year. it is sickening….

  12. Rich, those are some good questions. I have some others, too, expanding on environment and energy—and agriculture.

    RD—I think it was you who pointed out how Sen. Obama never compliments Democrats. He insulted Jimmy Carter twice.

    And the flag pin thing—not a big issue for me, but it was for the woman who asked the question. It was a manufactured issue for her, so why not treat her with some respect already? Sen. Obama gets asked about it out on the trail, so I would think he’d have a better response.

    I thought his original response (I’ll show my patrioitsm by what I do, not by what I wear) was a good one and I agreed with it.

  13. I think the pin issue is ridiculous and shame on abc for putting up that dingbat video. He is right – the pin was used by the GOP to “prove”their patriotism while insulting anyone who disagreed with the war as a traitor. I think he is right to dismiss that kind of ignorant crap, frankly and no, I would not have respected that question and would have been pissed if it were asked of anybody in our country. I for one would like to put the kabbash on that kind of thing in the GE.

  14. Did Barry wear his flag pin last night..you know, the one that was handed to him by an injured vet?

    (I couldn’t watch – ’cause I can’t stand the sound of his voice.)

  15. I am, myself, on strike against dKos and banned from ‘The BoneHead’ Bowers little moshpit, though I miss it not Bower ability to induce a headache with his ‘prose’ being no joking matter but I would point out that the days of the Kos Hegemony, in the future to be known as ‘The Darkness’, are coming to an end. That is if this is to be believed:


    Bowers just could not stand being criticised for his fanboy adulation of Barry the Ignorant. Gonna be a long four years of McSame buy I will spend some of that putting the boot to the ‘Boyz on the Blogz” goolies until their squeals of pain are distant memories.

  16. Isn’t it hilarious the way the cry foul when Obama is treated the way Hillary has been treated all these months? Let me get out my violin. No, wait. I’ll hire a string quartet to play sad songs for him.

  17. judith, the question isn’t whether you think the issue is relevant.

    The woman who asked the question thought it was. Sen. Obama had a venue for saying what he’d said before—patriotism is about what you do, not what you wear. This is true and a politically astute response. He could’ve laid the issue completely to rest.

    Instead, he dismissed the questioner and din’t smack down the question. AC 360 had someone on who said he still gets the question, so it apepars this woman wasn’t the only one curious about it.

    Bad politics to insult voters. Again.

  18. judith, the question isn’t whether you think the issue is relevant.

    The woman who asked the question thought it was. AC 360 had someone on who said he still gets the question, so it apepars this woman wasn’t the only one curious about it.

    Sen. Obama had a venue for saying what he’d said before—patriotism is about what you do, not what you wear. This is _true_ and a politically astute response. He could’ve laid the issue completely to rest.

    Instead, he dismissed the questioner and didn’t smack down the question.

    Bad politics to insult voters. Again.

  19. I had to read the transcript, so I missed any body language that may have contributed to impressions…

    Anyway, from the look of it, I think they were much kinder to obama than what I saw with russert/williams moderated debates. They actually asked very personal and CUTTING questions on character to Hillary and something softball to obama. In this case, it appears they were both asked to talk about the impressions of the associations with people and things they have said. It looks as if obama’s reaction to the questions is really the problem. He also took way too much time trying to esplain away the questions, this gave Hillary some control over when she wanted to give long answers later in the debate because the moderators were trying to keep time even between them.

    From the transcript, it appears to allowed her to look like a wonk to his looking like a whine.

  20. 10 million people watched the debate with a high of 11.8 million at one point in the broadcast (according to Halperin).

  21. sorry for the friggin’ double post.

  22. Ohio: No problemo. We’ll send the bill to you this month. 😉
    *psych!!* we don’t pay any bills! (Though at this rate, WordPress might want to change that business model soon)

  23. In the four years that I was active at the Site that Must Not Be Named, I never once read one of Hunter’s diaries from beginning to end. He is undisciplined: Words flow from his finger tips like the ultimate outcome of food consumed from a vendor of tainted victuals. I mean, talk about substanceless and meaningless.

  24. rd, and now that “we’re” on the blogroll at TalkLeft they’ll be no stopping us. … 🙂

  25. Kbird: Soon, our plans to take over the blogosphere will be complete! Are you pondering what I’m pondering?

    (how can we get invited to an inaugural ball? That’s what I’m thinking. ‘Cos I gotta workout and shimmy into a new dress)

  26. The “flag pin” question was a softball.

    Obama made it an issue, he spoke about it before, and the GOP has been obsessing over it.

    Obama should have expected the question and had a homerun answer ready.

  27. Riverdaughter: You should settle for nothing less than blogosphere domination. There should never be an end to your territorial demands. We need Lebensraum!

  28. DCDemocrat: You are soo right. Ve shall annex TalkingPointsMemo immediately mit ein blitzkrieg they haf never seen before, mein liebchen!

  29. ohio – uh, actually you are wrong. That isnt the question. The question is whether such a dumb question makes it into a presidential debate.

    Pearls or diamondfs, senator? Remember that moronic question?

  30. rd, We definitely belong at the inaugural ball….

    Hmmm. Maybe that should be one of my stated goals at Eat4Today? (my “diet” blog)

    Total Blogosphere domination is a given. Absolutely — you’re the best. There is NO reason it can’t happen.

  31. oh goodness, I remember when I was like poster number 5 here .

    never give up!!!

  32. Somebody needs to tell the Boiz that real ponies don’t oink.

  33. Oh, Judith — I do remember the pearls/diamonds question. (shaking my head) and it didn’t rattle her at all….

  34. Ve shall annex TalkingPointsMemo immediately mit ein blitzkrieg…

    Y’all are so funny and wishing you… victory!

    Honestly, I am happy to find these here patches of blue. Until the primary season kicked off, and the CDS became so obviously prevalent among the Boy Blogs, some I used to trust, I read dozens and dozens daily…now whittled down to a few.

    I don’t comment as much as I read, so thanks.

  35. didnt say it rattled her – the point is that it was garbage.too ..albeit more sexist than a gotcha.

    The flag pin was embarrassingly bad stuff.

    I know you guys dont agree with me –

  36. good luck to us all – Hillary must be having a great day!!!

  37. Is it just me or does Obama say “typical” a lot?

  38. Judith — I didn’t think you meant that. I was admiring the consistency of her poise.

  39. Riverdaughter: Today, ve annex TalkingPointsMemo. Tomorrow, it vill be Daily Voldermort.

  40. (laughing) I can’t wait!

  41. I wonder what the turnout will be for PA?

  42. judith, no, I wasn’t wrong.

    My point: RD has pointed out repeatedly that Sen. Obama dismissed and insulted Democrats.

    Whether you or I or anyone else thinks a voter’s questin is stupid isn’t the issue: The woman who asked the question thought it was important.

    This wasn’t a moderator’s question—it was a voter’s question. Sen. Obama blew it off as a manufatured issue, when it’s clearly important to the woman who asked ( as well as other people who have asked it).

    He’s opportunity was to treat a voter with respect and he didn’t do it. Again.

    myiq was right—this was a softball for Sen. Obama to blast out of the park. He could’ve made the point of it being a dumb question by giving an intelligent question.

    Instead, he insulted the woman (and others) who asked the question. He has a bad habit of doing this, and that’s not a path to victory, IMHO.

  43. These Obamazoids need to get a grip! It was “all good” when they were interrogating Hillary, but now that it’s his turn, it’s a problem. Some of the questions in the first portion of the debate weren’t exactly debate appropriate as they should have been in newscasts for months now!!! But, the fact of the matter is, he does need to respond to those questions about his “associations”–debate format or otherwise.

  44. I was deeply amused when, during that first hour when they were peppering Obama with questions, Gibson looked up at one point to Clinton and said, “I’m sorry, Senator, we’ll make sure you get equal time.” As if Clinton wasn’t enjoying the hell out of Obama getting asked silly questions for once! Well, if she wasn’t, I was.

    I loved how Obama chose to demonstrate how tough he is by complaining about all the “hits” he’s taken from Clinton. “But that’s okay, that’s politics…..” Translations: “This woman is a b****, don’t forget that!” And while this has probably been noted before, I must express my own personal disgust with Obama’s reference to Clinton’s “tea and cookies” remark in response to a question about “bitter guns and religion.” “Hey, guys, remember, she said something that made right wing fundamentalists mad 16 years ago! Just in case you forgot!” No one called him on it in the post-debate pathetic excuses for analysis.

    Poor Obama. Ya didn’t know the press could be so fickle, did you?

  45. judith, I remember when you and rd were about the only two posting. I knew riverdaughter could make it big because she’s a great writer and the people who post here were always the best and most reasonable anywhere.

  46. If you want to see something hilarious watch this one that was posted on YouTube. “Leave Barry Alone”


  47. riversaughter, I am sure you are aware UPenn endorsed Hill today. This interview with the editor about the endorsement says it all: http://www.phillymag.com/blogs/philly/2008/04/17/philly-grill-daily-pennsylvanian-editor-david-lei-on-endorsing-hillary-clinton/

    Smart kids. They treated it as a job interview. Hope the voters do.

  48. ohio – you said this

    “judith, the question isn’t whether you think the issue is relevant.”

    And I say yes it is and you are wrong to say that.

    It is about whether I think this crap should be part of a debate for the presidency. The question was absoultely stupid and should not have been aired. He was right to dismiss it.

  49. Hi tabbycat in tenn:

    I think someone else was here too – forgot who though…Ghost2?…and over time a lot of dkos people showed up. I agree RD is not only a fine writer but a nice person. Sje attracts other nice people and is building a pleasant smart community.

    Do you have a tabby? I have a tiny calico and a old guy who is on his last legs poor dear.

  50. litigatormom – I liked when Charlie said – I am not sure Senator Oama actually answered that question but I will ask you anyway…

    very nice way of making a point,

  51. judith, my point was how Sen. Obama treated the voter who asked the question: by dismissing her concerns as irrelevant. It was clearly important to _her._

    This treatment of voters (the woman in the video was not the only one wondering about it) is part of a larger patten of contempt on the senator’s part. That was my point.

    Your opinion of the question is not the issue.

  52. Ohio – your point did not need repeating 3 times. Got it the first ime. it is a silly stretch but if it makes you feel good to harp otn the stupidist question in the debate and build it into something bigger go for it. I would have scorned being asked something so dumb too. And that is *my* point and you are free to dismiss it. I wont mind at all.

  53. […] 17, 2008 · No Comments Via Riverdaughter, I hear Hunter at Daily Kos said ABC should have focused on issues instead of tabloid questions. […]

  54. When you’re at a debate you should be ready to answer anything. Anything. Remember that awful question they asked Dukakis about what if his wife got raped? Anybody who prepares for a debate with the press asking questions must be ready. Hillary was ready. Obama wasn’t. The stupidity of some of the questions was a shame, but she answered every one without flubbing and he looked like a deer in the headlights.

  55. you dont sound so dumb, blonde. And you are right.

    BUT, while I am an avid Clinton supporter, I can see that he was dismissing the question and being asked thatin a debate forum like it had some kind of import, but I dont read into that contempt for the woman asking it. I make that distinction as well.

  56. I am enjoying reading this blog.

    I wish there was a way to be able to go to a blog like Kos and have a number subtracted from them.

    I wonder if the big pro-Obama blogs are getting lots of ad revenue from the Obama campaign? Has anyone every asked them that? Maybe we need a little financial transparency.

  57. *Anything* ???

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