Skip to comments.Presidential debates: entertainment or information?
Posted on 05/07/2007 4:38:04 AM PDT by Kaslin
With the first debate of the Republican presidential candidates, the second debate of the primary season, now behind us, there's one clear loser. That's the American people.
The responsibility lies with the press corps to identify the pressing issues of the day and to make sure that those who want to be president of the United States address these issues.
The press is not doing its job here and, as a result, critical opportunities for the public at large to hear candidates weigh in on major issues are being lost.
Chris Matthews, in laying out the ground rules for this first Republican debate, said, as Brian Williams did with the Democrats, that candidates shouldn't waste time thanking the hosts. Correctly, he set a tone that time is limited and that it is important that it be used well.
Then, despite this, Matthews wasted this valuable time by asking each of the 10 GOP candidates if they would support amending the Constitution so that naturalized citizens like California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, prominently seated in the audience at the debate, could run for president. Why?
Matthews later asked several candidates if they would employ Karl Rove on their White House staffs. Former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore, correctly and professionally, made clear that this was an irrelevant, and quite stupid, question.
Aside from the war in Iraq, nothing looms more among the legitimate concerns of the American electorate than health care. But not a single question was asked to draw out the candidates' thoughts on this major issue.
We know that the two leading Democratic candidates, Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York and Barack Obama of Illinois, want to effectively bring socialized medicine to our country. How do Republican candidates feel about this? How would they deal with runaway health-care costs? Are they concerned that there are many who have no health insurance?
President Bush made a provocative and creative proposal in his State of the Union message this year that would level the field between the costs of health insurance between those receiving insurance through their employer and those purchasing it on their own. Would it not have made sense to probe what these Republican candidates think about this and other possible approaches?
How about education? The hallmark legislation of the Bush administration, currently up for reauthorization, is No Child Left Behind.
Yet, not a single question on No Child Left Behind in particular or education in general was asked.
So, at the conclusion of the first debate of Republican candidates, we know that eight of 10 would not amend the Constitution to allow a naturalized citizen to become president, but we have no idea, based on this debate, about their thoughts on health care or education.
How about entitlements? There is no greater fiscal challenge confronting this country today than the insurmountable obligations facing us through Medicare and Social Security.
An article in the current edition of the Financial Analysts Journal, co-authored by economists from the University of Pennsylvania and the Cato Institute, estimates that the unmet obligations we now have as a result of Medicare and Social Security amount to $63.7 trillion. That's almost six times the nation's GDP.
According to the authors, as a result of this cost, and because of smoke and mirrors in how we do our nation's budgeting, the federal deficit is closer to $2.4 trillion rather than $200 billion. How will we pay these bills?
Not a single presidential candidate of either party is addressing this massive problem.
Isn't the press corps responsible for pushing candidates to crawl out from under their rocks and address these tough issues? It's not happening, and we are the losers.
Regarding the Republican field, I am in agreement with Gilmore, that there's not one among the 10 who I would not rather have than Clinton. But, nevertheless, I felt that the leading candidates showed why Republican voters are having a hard time getting enthusiastic.
Former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani is vague and inarticulate. I found his non-response about Roe v. Wade totally unsatisfying. Roe can be opposed simply as a constitutional issue, yet the former New York mayor is unable to even do this.
I find former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's explanation that he suddenly turned anti-abortion two years ago as a result of the cloning issue a bit hard to swallow. Somehow, the 45 million abortions that occurred from 1973 to 2005 were insufficient to move Romney, but suddenly he woke up because of cloning?
If Matthews and his crew were doing their job, they would have probed Sen. John McCain of Arizona about his wavering on the Bush tax cuts. And they certainly would have explored his courageous vote against the budget-busting Medicare prescription bill in 2003.
Information is the oxygen of quality public discourse and a meaningful political process. The press today, unfortunately, wants to be in the entertainment business rather than the information business. We're all losers as result. The American public deserves better.
Star Parker is a regular commentator on CNN, MSNBC, and FOX News as well as author of White Ghetto: How Middle Class America Reflects Inner City Decay.
The last 40 years of press-deminated debates needs to be entirely trashed and replaced with a format along the lines that Newt has suggested.
In fact this circus doesn’t even remotely deserve the label “debate”, because there was no back and forth interchange of ideas.
MSNBC lost in this debate, if that is even possible. Their credibility is already at an all time low, but to have the olberidiot on as a “journalist” and david schuster as a “fact checker” is both humorous and disgraceful. The olbreidiot has called the President and Rudy terrorists, david schuster swore on a stack of bibles (not literally of course) that karl rove was going to be indicted. Fat dim russert filed a false affidavit in the scooter libby trial, and yet he has never been asked on his own network to explain his lies. NBC counsel said that andrea mitchell was being hones on IMUS when she said she “must have been drunk” when she said on the capitol report that “everyone knew about Val”.
NBC/MSNBC are nothing but propagandists. The spitter and the olberidiot must have gotten bonus checkes from george soros after the “debate”. I would hope that Mrs. Reagan recognizes the awful mistake she made by allowing the spitter and the idiot even in the library.
NBC claiming that the olberidiot is a journalist tops it all though; the president of MSNBC calls keith an “adult”. The most ludicrous statement of them all.
I would hope that the RNC writes a letter to the President of MSNBC complaining about the absurdity of the questions and the blatant attemps in the after-debate propaganda to trash President Bush.
And the democrats are afraid to go on FNC
I only watched the debate for a few minutes. After hearing the blithering Chris Mattews ask a ridiculous question; I don’t remember which one it was, I couldn’t take it any more and had to change the channel
I had to turn off the TV.
ive studied on the subject, and my conclusion is now clear
fred is formidable
he is a man of strength, character, consistency, and with his own internal locus of control
this is no northeastern republican in name only
unlike president bush unfortunately, who is also good person, thompson has a thoroughly-integrated theme and vision of america that deeply reinforces our identity as a nation
the only bi-partisanship fred will care to achieve is through his very nature - he is hard not to like as a person despite differing views
fred is articulate, confident but not cocky, intelligent but guided by experienced common sense
no other candidate on either side has such an appreciation of the fundamental issues that will affect america in the years to come
like jesus in the garden of gethsemane, thompson is taking the time now to savor the last moments of a private quiet life of comfort - sacrifice awaits
a towering man (66) that only seems amplified by soaring ideals
remember this moment - world history in the making
Always nice to hear from Star Parker. It is just more biased spin, if you ask me. Pigeon hole the R’s as interested only in abortion and homophobia. Pretend that the light in the loafers Dems have the only serious new ideas.
It’s much too early for presidential debates. I would say that holding them now dilutes the “real” debates taking place next year and risks election fatigue, except only hard corps news junkies are watching them.