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