Thursday, April 17, 2008


The debate last night was, to me, a national disgrace. For more than an hour an issue affecting the lives and deaths of more than 200,000 of our fighting men and women overseas was left off of the table in favor of matters of such import as the frequency with which one candidate wears a flag pin on his lapel. Not mentioned in that weighty discussion was the fact that the other candidate never wears a flag pin, nor that the Republican candidate frequently does not.

Barack Obama refers to these types of issues as “distractions” from the real issues. He says that instead of “parsing the candidates sentences” we should be talking about things like how to repair the economy to bring real jobs back to this country and to restore economic balance, a topic that was never mentioned in last night’s debate.

I have a lot of company in my belief about the nature of list night’s debacle, but there are a few who disagree. David Brooks in his Campaign Stops column today in the New York Times says, in part,
…I thought the questions were excellent. The journalist’s job is to make politicians uncomfortable, to explore evasions, contradictions and vulnerabilities. Almost every question tonight did that.(…) We may not like it, but issues like Jeremiah Wright, flag lapels and the Tuzla airport will be important in the fall.

Only because the media makes them important. The media says that they write about what is important, but pretends that it does not know that it is the media that decides what is important. And “making politicians uncomfortable” is a lot of fun, and it makes the journalist feel powerful and important, but it is not the journalist’s job. The journalist’s job is to inform the reader.

And James Joyner at Outside the Beltway agrees with him.
Elections are not decided on “the issues.” …95 percent of the people vote on trust, likability, character, and such.

Which is how they elected George W. Bush; he was “the guy you’d like to have a beer with.” Based on Joyner’s criteria and current media coverage, John McCain will win in a landslide. I don’t think he actually will, because his policies are so utterly disastrous, but…

Joyner, like most of the media, has mastered the self-fulfilling prophecy. People read this crap so you need to write it, is actually a case of people read this crap because they want to cast their vote and this crap is the only thing you are writing. When the media is not providing coverage of the issues people cannot really vote on the issues.

Whether or not a man wears a flag on his lapel is not a character issue. It is a distraction. The idea that someone would cast a vote based on whether or not the candidate wears a piece of jewelry is nothing short of monstrous.

The American people have been voting against their own interests for years because the media – the politicians, yes, but to a larger degree the media – has distracted them from those interests with trivial matters such as jewelry, masking those trivia and giving them weight by calling them "character issues.”

The newsrooms of this country have been taken over by hacks who use them as ego platforms, while the editorial desks have been hijacked by corporate shills who are tools of the corporatist governing elite.

And being an informed citizen is more difficult than ever.

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