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The Charlie Gibson/ABC/WMUR/Facebook/USSR Democratic/Republican debates

Last night, Charlie Gibson of ABC News moderated two debates sponsored by WMUR and Facebook, featuring the Republican candidates and then the Democrats. Like all the preceding debates, it was like something ripped from the pages of the Soviet Union.

First, the Democrat version (transcript link) does not feature a single instance - not even one - of immigration or any related words. That's the Democrats' weakest spot, the one that could be used to show that none are qualified to be president, and Charlie Gibson and ABC News decided not to ask about it. There's no excuse for that. Whether the Dem base is as concerned about the issue as everyone else is immaterial: those candidates want to run the entire country.

Second, the GOP version (transcript link), as with recent news reports, allowed John McCain to continue to mislead about whether his immigration scheme was amnesty. The moderators should know enough to call McCain on his use of misleading language, but did not for some reason.

Third, one of Rudy Giuliani's answers illustrates just how pathetic the structure of the debates has been:

What do I stand for? I laid out 12 commitments to the American people. I wrote them out. The first one is the most important -- keeping this country on offense in the Islamic terrorist war against us. The rest of them lay out what I believe this country has to do over the next four years. That would be my guidepost. If I'm elected president, I'll put that card on my desk, and every day I will try to accomplish it -- end illegal immigration, solve health care through private options, reduce taxes, reduce the size of government on the civilian side, expand the military, appoint strict constructionist judges.

In almost any setting other than running for president, those to whom Rudy presented his twelve committments would grill him on how exactly he intends to follow through and would point out all the possible downsides and ask him how he intends to deal with contingencies. Imagine, for instance, Rudy going to investors seeking money to implement his plans. They wouldn't simply hand him a billion dollars, they'd do extensive due diligence first.

Not so with the presidential debates or with MSM coverage in general. Candidates are allowed to utter completely fantastic claims such as proposing to "end" illegal immigration and all the MSM can do is dutifully write it down or allow it to be broadcast to millions of potential voters.

One solution is to encourage the candidates to attend policy debates. Another solution is to encourage people to go to campaign events and ask tough questions. If you can't do that, please post messages to local forums or contact local bloggers encouraging them to get out there and do the job the MSM won't do.

Related:
CNN/Youtube censored video replies on CNN debate
NPR Democratic debate: weak questions on immigration, logical fallacies
Black and Brown debate features childish race card tricks (Richardson as Hillary's VP?)
CNN Youtube GOP debate November 28, 2007
CNN lies, misleads (11/15/07 Democratic debate edition)
Why the debates are like Soviet puppet shows, Part #3832 (John Edwards, Democrats, Drexel)
Fox GOP October 21 debate had only two offhand immigration questions
Tim Russert/MSNBC Democratic "debate" features journalistic incompetence
Democratic Spanish-language Univision debate September 9 transcript
Fox September 5, 2007 GOP debate live coverage
CNN/Youtube Democratic debate July 23
Tavis Smiley/PBS Democratic debate has no immigration questions at all
Live coverage, GOP presidential debate, June 5, 2007
Worse for democracy: Chris Matthews or Wolf Blitzer? (Democratic debate)
GOP 5/15 debate live coverage
Chris Matthews is a Beltway Hack (Ron Paul, "Oh, God", Lou Dobbs as moderator)
Democrats debate features largely worthless immigration question

Politics · Sun, 01/06/2008 - 10:03 · Importance: 1

Mon, 01/07/2008 - 01:35
Dennis D

At least when Rudy says he will end illegal immigration I can believe him. As a native New Yorker I know when he says it, he REALLY means it. Same confidence I had in Reagans words.

Mon, 01/07/2008 - 04:40
Rational Skeptic

Not to be a smart aleck, but I think by now it should be clear to everyone that the "main-stream media" is really the "main-stream propanda machine". I believe it was in the April 07 issue of Mother Jones magazine that had a diagram showing who owned all the major networks and newspapers. There were, if I remember correctly, only about 4 owners of all the major media. I think it's apparent from the way all the "news" organizations are handling the election that they are really the ones doing the electing--not the citizens. Questions are rigged and selected so as to present only one point of view (usually the rich oligarchic view). Front runners are predetermined and other candidates (on both sides) are left out of the dialogue. Candidates are never challenged on their views. Why are we still saying "ABC Evening News with Charles Gibson"? Shouldn't we really be saying "ABC Evening Propaganda with Charles Gibson"? Or how about "The CBS Evening Propaganda with Katie Couric"? You get the picture. The sooner we call things by their real names, the sooner we can deal with reality.

Mon, 01/07/2008 - 11:37
Derby
liverichmi.blogspot.com

Good suggestion on asking tough questions. I have to say, though, on immigration Romney took McCain to task; the moderator didn't have to. The ensuing debate, with Giuliani's input made their different policies clear and attempted to clarify what falls under the definition of amnesty. Maybe we could call McCain's plan partial amnesty?

Mon, 01/07/2008 - 11:46
falange

_Maybe we could call McCain's plan partial amnesty?_ Amnesty with window-dressing would be more accurate. The trivial penalties are the same as the those used in the 1986 amnesty, which was, of course, openly called an amnesty.

Mon, 01/07/2008 - 12:04
falange

The fundamental ideological rationale for mass immigration-whether legal or illegal: http://www.amnation.com/vfr/archives/009601.html (...) _Racism is like original sin, but only for whites. They're born with it and they deserve to be dispossessed because of it. As Susan Sontag put it: "The white race is the cancer of human history." Mass immigration is the chemotherapy that will cure the world of this cancer by smothering the white cancer-cells in their homelands._