Thursday, November 29, 2007

Another Missed Debate Thread

I missed the GOP CNN-YouTube debate last night; I watched Olbermann and the first fifteen minutes of Criminal Minds before falling asleep. I did switch over during a commercial to catch a question about black-on-black crime and have Mitt Romney turn it into a thinly-veiled attack on gay marriage and a plea for more “moms and dads” in the inner city, an idea he apparently got from listening to his old Up With People LP’s.

Lots of other people watched the whole thing, including Michael Scherer, Josh Marshall, and Melissa, all of whom live-blogged it. Walter Shapiro has a wrap.

Rarely has a debate left me so troubled about the future of the nation. By now, I should have learned not to be shocked when Republicans like Mitt Romney, who spent the Vietnam War doing missionary work in France, pretend to believe that they have more expertise about waterboarding and other forms of torture than John McCain who spent five and a half years being abused and sometimes tortured in a North Vietnamese prison. I should have also learned not to be dismayed that the standard Republican position on immigration (McCain and Mike Huckabee excepted) now seems to be Emma Lazarus in reverse: “Take my tired and poor, please. I never want to see those shiftless bums again.”

No, what sent me into a free fall of depression was CNN’s instinct for the fatuous in choosing the debate questions. It is a disgrace that in a two-hour debate (it felt longer) there was not a single question about the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, the power keg in Pakistan or Iran. The fault is not with the earnest YouTubers who sent in questions. The blame entirely rests with Anderson Cooper (a debate host who seemed incapable of asking a relevant followup question) and his CNN cohorts who seemed more concerned with goosing the ratings than with grasping the world that the next president will inherit.

If it’s any consolation at all, the questions at the Democratic debates have been just as calorie-free. Maybe the next debate should be hosted by Paula Abdul, Simon Cowell, and Joey Fatone.

Feel free to add your own $0.02.