As always, the revamped Watcher’s Council, which is now WOW! Magazine, a collaborative magazine with posts from Watcher’s Council members and their friends, is worth checking out. If you were to go over there now, you’d find the following recent posts (and Lord alone knows how much time you could spend reviewing past posts from this informed and prolific crowd):
It turns out that conservatives aren’t the only ones upset about the absence of diversity revealed in the choice of moderators for the presidential and vice-presidential debates. Tavis Smiley, a black man who has made a career out of being concerned about racial quotas, notices that the best the MSM could do was come up with a panel of pallor:
The four journalists who have been selected to navigate the upcoming debates are more than capable. My issue is not with them, per se, rather with a selection process that at best periodically trades and swaps a journalist of color for a woman — or at worst, ignores journalists of color altogether. To be clear, this is not about my personal interest in wanting to moderate a presidential debate. One, I already have (The All-American Presidential Forums on PBS); and two, my critical commentary about the mediocrity of both campaigns clearly disqualifies me from being on stage.
The Obama and Romney campaigns could have and should have INSISTED on at least one journalist of color to moderate one of these debates. In truth, the campaigns really call the shots on these decisions, not the presidential debate commission. So we are left to assume that neither side put up a fight demanding that a journalist of color be chosen. Of course, I’d love for either campaign to prove me wrong about this assumption. I just don’t think they can.
For once, I find myself agreeing with Tavis Smiley, although only up to a point. Yes, the panel shows a remarkable lack of diversity, but I disagree with him about the type of segregation the panel practices. As far as I can tell, the choices range from really Progressive to really, really Progressive. Ideologically, this is the least diverse panel one could ever imagine, given that each ostensibly impartial “moderator” slants politically — very strongly — to one side of the debate. If this was the Olympics, it would be like having only Chinese judges for the gymnastics or diving competitions.
I tried to leave a comment for Mr. Smiley at HuffPo, but HuffPo repeatedly rejected my attempts at commenting. I’ll therefore share with you here the comment I would have left there:
For once, Mr. Smiley, I absolutely agree with you. I recommend Larry Elder or Thomas Sowell for the role. That way, you wouldn’t simply change the uniform and bland racial color palette, you’d actually affect the monochromatic ideological spectrum. Alternatively, if you are able to get past skin color, which is an awfully limiting way to view Americans, I suggest simply picking anyone from the large conservative roster of (Fox) TV, (talk) radio, or (conservative) blogging personalities. Doing so would mean that, for the first time in years, the debates would be both interesting and meaningful for the American people. Or better yet, do away entirely with moderated debates. Let Romney and Obama — and Biden and Ryan — have a good rhetorical free-for-all, just as Lincoln and Douglas did long ago before an equally pivotal election.
I’m planning a trip this summer to Japan, a country about which I know nothing. Actually that’s an overstatement. I know some things: it’s beautiful, historic, and clean (I love that part), and comes complete with great food and well-mannered people. But that’s all I know.
I don’t have this tabula rasa problem when I go to Europe. Whether England, Germany, France, Belgium, or Italy, I have in my head enough information about the country to be a little picky. It helps, too, that Rick Steves has published a series of European travel guides. He’s not shy about being opinionated. Indeed, that’s why people turn to him. They have faith that they can trust his judgment so that, if he says a city is good and requires at least three days time, they can immediately book a hotel (one he recommends, of course) for two nights. Likewise, if he says “don’t bother with such and such,” his readers know that Rick saved them time and money on a short, expensive trip.
So far, I haven’t found a Rick Steves for Japan. All the travel books make everything sound wonderful, without any rankings or priorities. And I’m sure that, if I had unlimited time and money, I would enjoy traveling to every town, shrine and museum Japan offers. But that’s not the reality of vacation travel, and I’m currently overwhelmed by the choices. Yikes!
My Japan conundrum isn’t unique. In a world awash in information, there is no way one person can master all the data necessary to make important life decisions. Inevitably, in various areas such as education, travel, politics, finances, etc., we select experts whom we trust and assume that, when they state an ultimate conclusion about their subject, we can rely on that conclusion. This works both ways, of course. Since I’ve long thought AlBore to be a rather foolish man with enough feral instincts to be a successful snake oil salesman, I have never believed in global warming. Likewise, a friend of mine refuses to accept the rising tide of evidence against global warming, because it’s been published in “Republican” and “conservative” outlets such as the Wall Street Journal and the Daily Mail. The fact that AlBore’s theories are based on computer models while the evidence against global warming is based upon actual data disturbs him not a whit. He’s found his reliable sources, and he’s sticking with them.
Right now, my reliance upon political experts is creating a dilemma for me, because my “experts” are turning on each other. Before the primaries, they were all united in their profound dislike for Barack Obama. Now, though, the circular firing squad isn’t limited just to the Republican candidates themselves. The shoot-outs are taking place at every major conservative website, not to mention many of my favorite blogs. Just check out PJ Media’s front page at any given minute to see astute political commentators, all of whom I respect, battering away at each other and the candidates.
To some commentators, Mitt is a RINO’s RINO, who flops, then flips, while Newt is the fiery voice of conservative truth who can reclaim America. To others, Newt is an unprincipled loose cannon, while Mitt is a steady, conservative politician whose problem-solving skills make him the only one who can defeat Obama. Still others see both Mitt and Newt as RINOs (one of whom has a backbone of noodle, while the other has the ethics of an alley cat), while Rick Santorum is the only true conservative in the house — never mind the fact, say entirely different pundits, that Rick’s conservative stances on social issues assure that he’ll lose to Obama.
I find all of the above viewpoints both interesting and credible. Newt is an exciting speaker who articulates core truths about America, the economy, and national security that too many Americans, intimated by the PC police, have been stifling for years. His fund of knowledge is impressive and enjoyable. And of course, he’s the man whose insider skills in the 1990s forced the entire political system slightly to the right. On the other side of the scale, he’s a man who has cheated on at least two wives (and I really don’t want to find out if he’s been cheating on a third), he’s known to be a terrible manager, his relationship to truth can be distant at best, he’s erratic, he too often sees Big Government as the vehicle for his own eclectic brilliance, and so on and so forth.
Then there’s Mitt. We all know and appreciate the Good Mitt. This is the Mitt who understands the market; the Mitt who has impressive organizational abilities; the Mitt who has proven to be an adept, albeit unexciting candidate; the Mitt who makes the Republican establishment feel loved; and the Mitt who, we are told, can entice the independents whom Newt frightens. But all is not wonderful in Mitt land. There’s also the Less Good Mitt, the unrepentant architect of RomneyCare; the man who, when he isn’t flipping, is flopping; the man whose Mormonism worries those who believe he is committing a profound doctrinal error that reflects on his judgment and intelligence; and, which might be the worst thing of all in a hyper-media age, the man who has the charm and warmth of a first generation android.
And what about Rick? My God, the man is a Boy Scout, and I mean that in a good way. He’s honest, loyal, decent, moral, and truly conservative. He’s definitely what we conservatives want. Except for that little problem he has of fading into the woodwork, not to mention the fact that, with the nation trending further and further left on social issues, there’s the strong likelihood, say many, that he’ll be the poison pill candidate for independent voters.
Darn those independent voters! They’re the real problem, because all three conservative candidate (and, yes, I am ignoring Ron Paul entirely) could easily win against Obama if we could automatically co-opt independents into conservativism. We can’t, though, which paralyzes the Republican primary. While the independents seem to dislike Obama with ever greater intensity, the mainstream media has trained them, like tens of thousands of Pavlovian dogs, to be very hostile to certain stand-out traits in the last three Republicans standing: Newt is the evil architect of the Contract with America; Mitt is the evil Mormon; and Rick is the evil Christian who will imprison all your gay friends and relatives. Evil! Evil! Evil!
The worst thing of all, though, considering all the alleged evil the MSM keeps highlighting, is the fact that America’s premier conservative commentators aren’t doing anything to help. Rather than building up their candidate of choice, they too are just as busy as the MSM, and the candidates themselves, in the savagery of their attacks against the candidates they don’t like.
It’s worth remembering that Newt rose to prominence during the debates because, in the beginning, he kept a laser-like focus on Obama. He pointed out Obama’s myriad, manifest flaws and failings, and articulated ideas that promised to help America recover from her experiment with a true Leftist in the White House. His numbers rose. When Romney went negative, though, so did Newt — and so did everyone else. In the last couple of months, the flesh-ripping on the debate stage is sickening, and the political commentators, rather than stepping in to help focus the voters on their chosen candidate’s attributes, are standing at the base of the stage drinking up the flowing blood.
THIS IS NOT HELPFUL. If you’re going to have an opinion, advance useful information that helps affirmative decision-making and that helps staunch the sanguinary stream we’re currently giving as a gift to the MSM. Yes, it’s good for the candidates to get groomed to fight the dirty fight, because it’s going to be very dirty indeed when they stand on a stage opposite Barack Obama. I think, though, that we can comfortably conclude that the current batch has the grit to take the hits. It’s time now to give the voters the help they need to choose the best candidate, rather than just to avoid the worst.
We all know the philosophical question that asks, “If a tree falls in a forest, and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”
The media is trying a variation on this question by asking, “If we completely ignore a fact, so that no one hears about it, does the fact exist?” The media’s latest experiment with this grand philosophical question is to pretend that the audience in South Carolina wasn’t completely thrilled by Newt’s response to opening questions regarding his ex-wife’s accusations about his behavior during their marriage.
I honestly don’t know whether Newt’s direct challenges to the media mean that he has the “right stuff” to be president. I just know that his willingness to stand up and fight the Pravda that the American media has become is a very important and necessary step in the new media age. More Republicans should stop pandering and start speaking truth to media power. It’s time to break this monopoly by showing it the disrespect it deserves.
If you’re like me, the second the debate ended, you got on your computer to check whether the consensus in the blogosphere jived with your own impressions of the first Presidential debate. I discovered that the general consensus (from both liberal and conservative bloggers) was that McCain scored on points. He held his own on the economy, and came into his own on foreign policy, an area in which Obama distinguished himself as a complete ignoramus. To see him try to argue his way out of his “no preconditions” statements was amusing.
I happen to be somewhat concerned, though, that the average American doesn’t react to the debates in the same way as we internet/political junkies do. When we watch the debates, we know the facts and arguments as well as the candidates do. When Obama lies, we recognize those lies for what they are. When McCain begins a good argument and then gets lost in elliptical phrasing or jargon, we still understand precisely what it is he actually meant to say, and are able to applaud the thought.
The average American, though, sees things a little differently. Obama has the lawyer’s practiced skill of being able to keep his lips moving and sound coming out, even as his brain his empty. Although his eyes looked a bit panicky, he kept emitting subjects, and verbs, and objects. You and I knew that what he was saying was nonsense, or canned, or irrelevant, or dishonest, but the average, less informed viewer heard only a smooth flow of subject and verb and object.
The opposite was true with McCain. McCain, like Bush 41 before him, can lapse into a telegraphic style of speech, where he starts a thought, pauses, and then abandons that thought to go on to a new one. In his own mind, he’s fully conveyed what he wished to say. The auditor, however, feels as if he is left hanging. You and I can fill in those blanks, because we know the facts, but the average listener may be waiting for the object that should have been attached to that subject, verb formulation.
This means that I’m a little less sanguine than blogosphere commenters who, focusing on substance, awarded more points to McCain than to Obama. Still, I’m not completely down-hearted, and that’s because I think Obama may have destroyed himself with a single statement. Those single statements can be killers. Sometimes they kill the person at whom they’re directed; and sometimes they kill the person speaking. You recall all of these, don’t you?
“Who am I? Why am I here?” Meant to be rhetorical, but sounding inept and bewildered, it was the start of the debacle that was poor Admiral Stockdale’s VP debate, and contributed significantly to the meaninglessness of Ross Perot’s presidential run.
“There you go again.” With that one statement, Ronald Reagan made Jimmy Carter sound like a fool. And it was delivered so sweetly. It wasn’t angry. Instead, it was the sort of fond exasperation a parent feels for the child who just can’t get it right.
“Senator, you’re no Jack Kennedy.” The pundits loved it. Lloyd Bentsen decimated the boyish looking (and Republican) Dan Quayle by putting him firmly in his place for having the temerity to compare himself to that Democratic icon, Jack Kennedy. It didn’t matter that, if he ran today, Kennedy’s policies would more closely align him with the Republicans. The insult was enough.
And from yesterday’s debate: “I’ve got a bracelet too.” A lot of conservatives want to give Obama heat for the fact that he couldn’t remember the name on his bracelet, but I actually find that forgivable. Obama was in the hot seat and, at moments like that (at least if you’re me), names are the first thing to go. The sin wasn’t the memory failure, the sin was that he made the statement in the first place.
Let’s start with some context: In connection with his belief that there is no peace and honor without victory, John McCain told the moving story of the moment Matthew Stanley’s mother gave McCain Matthew’s bracelet and asked him to wear it and, more importantly, to honor and give meaning to Matthew’s death by making the Iraq War an American defeat, not an American victory.
Obama, had he wanted to, could have scored some substantive points by immediately saying that we don’t honor one man’s death by creating more dead, or some such argument. That seemed to be where he was heading, but I tuned out because I was so overwhelmed by his actual response: “I’ve got a bracelet too.”
What is this? Kindergarten? Could anything show more clearly what a selfish, self-centered, shallow man Obama is? McCain is talking about real people, and he’s talking about how the beliefs he shares with those real people drive him to his understanding that, both for the good of the nation and for the honor of her troops, America must leave Iraq as a strong, viable nation. It breaks faith with both America and her troops to slink away as Obama so wants to do. This is a deep substantive argument. The bracelet wasn’t the central point. It was simply a human-interest lead-in to that point.
And what does Obama say? “I’ve got a bracelet too.” What that means, translated, is “I can’t think of an original argument, I don’t have a deep emotional story, I don’t have sound policy justifications for abandoning Iraq now that we’re trembling on the verge of actual and complete success but, ‘Nyah, nyah, nyah-nyah-nyah — I’ve got a bracelet too.'” The attitude and ignorance behind the statement was appalling.
If this was just one example, it would be bad enough, but we’ve seen this before. When Hillary, the darling of huge chunks of American women, self-deprecatingly (and rather charmingly) acknowledges that she grates on some people, Obama snaps back with the condescending “You’re likable enough.” If I’d been Hillary, I would have marched across the stage and bitten him. So, I suspect, would all of her female followers.
And then when Palin comes on the scene, this man of Indonesia, Hawaii and Chicago suddenly discovers his inner Southerner and, when speaking of Republican policies, comes out with an old Southern expression: “You can put lipstick on a pig. It’s still a pig.” At that moment, the remaining chunk of American women who aren’t Obama acolytes lunged for their TV screens, teeth bared.
The MSM, no doubt recognizing how damaging this statement, is going to downplay “I’ve got a bracelet too” in the hope that it doesn’t enter the pantheon of memorable moments in debate history. It’s therefore our responsibility to make sure that this telling moment into Obama’s character does not vanish into the abyss.
(Cross-posted at Right Wing News.)