Last night’s debate

The top story at Memeorandum this morning is about how liberals in the blogosphere and the punditocracy feel that last night’s ABC News debate was poorly moderated and didn’t contain nearly enough policy questions, and focused too much on side issues like campaign “gaffes,” associations, and questions about faith and patriotism.

Translation: Barack Obama had to face some tough questions last night, and they didn’t like it.

Michelle Malkin noted in an early morning post that the KosKidz are talking about launching a campaign against ABC for being mean to Barry O. Last time the far left launched a campaign against ABC it was in defense of Bubba Clinton and how his counterterrorism record was portrayed in the docudrama Path to 9-11.

I watched most of the debate last night, and agree with the NYT’s David Brooks’ assessment:

The journalist’s job is to make politicians uncomfortable, to explore evasions, contradictions and vulnerabilities. Almost every question tonight did that. The candidates each looked foolish at times, but that’s their own fault.

We may not like it, but issues like Jeremiah Wright, flag lapels and the Tuzla airport will be important in the fall. Remember how George H.W. Bush toured flag factories to expose Michael Dukakis. It’s legitimate to see how the candidates will respond to these sorts of symbolic issues.


Second, Obama and Clinton were completely irresponsible. As the first President Bush discovered, it is simply irresponsible statesmanship (and stupid politics) to make blanket pledges to win votes. Both candidates did that on vital issues.

Both promised to not raise taxes on those making less than $200,000 or $250,000 a year. They both just emasculated their domestic programs. Returning the rich to their Clinton-era tax rates will yield, at best, $40 billion a year in revenue. It’s impossible to fund a health care plan, let alone anything else, with that kind of money. The consequences are clear: if elected they will have to break their pledge, and thus destroy their credibility, or run a minimalist administration.

The second pledge was just as bad. Nobody knows what the situation in Iraq will be like. To pledge an automatic withdrawal is just insane. A mature politician would’ve been honest and said: I fully intend to withdraw, but I want to know what the reality is at that moment.

The third point concerns electability. The Democrats have a problem. All the signs point to a big Democratic year, and I still wouldn’t bet against Obama winning the White House, but his background as a Hyde Park liberal is going to continue to dog him. No issue is crushing on its own, but it all adds up. For the life of me I can’t figure out why he didn’t have better answers on Wright and on the “bitter” comments. The superdelegates cannot have been comforted by his performance.

I don’t know how the supers are feeling about Obama’s performance last night, but if the reaction from the leftosphere is any indication, Brooks is spot on. It’s no wonder there’s some much whining about how the debate was conducted. It didn’t paint Obama in a glowing light and even some of his own supporters are admitting he just didn’t look good. So it must be the media’s fault, because he, you see, can do no wrong.

The winner of last night’s debate? John McCain.

Comments are closed.