Thursday, April 17, 2008

The despicable debate

Across the Web, the comments are pretty clear: The debate was a despicable display of arrogance and elitism.
Here is a column by historian Greg Mitchell which really sums it all up: ["Clinton-Obama Debate: ABC Decides Top Issues Facing Americans Are Gaffes, Flag Pins, and '60s Radicals"].
BTW, Mitchell has written some great books over the years, including the fabulous "The Campaign of the Century," about Upton Sinclair's 1934 race for governor of California. It is, frankly, a must-read.
Andrew Sullivan, who I don't particularly like very much, called it a "travesty" and worse: ["The ABC News 'freak show'"]. And Markos over at DailyKos, another guy I don't really like much, also nails it out of the park: ["The elites"]. The elites. Exactly.
The question and follow up about the capital gains tax shows out of touch these people are. Why should some schlep killing himself in a 70 hour week job running a McDonald's somewhere get taxed more than some trust fund baby shifting money around? The fact that we are even arguing over this is ridiculous. Either drop or raise them both to equal rates. Earned and unearned income, like capital gains, should be taxed at the same rate.
As well, Gibson can go on all he wants about revenue rising when capital gains are cut as a result of what has happened on Wall Street in the past. But look at what Wall Street is doing to the nation now. Look around you. It's not that hard to see and the fact that someone like this doesn't see it is a real sticky point about debate hosting.
In many ways, their elitism is not their fault. Very few people make $200k annually. About 4 percent of Americans. But in the Stephy/Gibson circles, they all make $200k - or more. So, why should we fault them for not knowing? Well, a good reporter would know better and they clearly aren't good reporters. Devastating.
While Obama and Clinton are elites, and a good chunk of the audience are elites [do you know how hard it is to get into these types of events], the majority of viewers were not elites. Instead of having a real debate, this group talked down to the American people and proved they are completely out of touch with the world right now. And we all wonder why we can't get real information from the television.
Here is short video of attendees heckling Charlie Gibson, as if the lives, dreams, and dangers of living in America in 2008 are something to scoff about: ["ABC Hosts Heckled After Debate"].
Lastly, before I move on to real life, let me say this: If this entire process isn't even more proof of how out of touch the corporate media is in America, I don't know what is. We have seen it throughout this campaign season and I'm afraid it will probably only get worse.
Looking to the future, journalists and the American public have a responsibility to make sure that the general election debates are actually substantive, thorough, and yeah, thoughtful, addressing the real job of the presidency and the needs, hopes, and desires of the American voter, no matter who the candidates are. In addition, it is time for the presidential debate commission to allow other voices, instead of the two most popular ones, to be on the debate stage. Let Ralph Nader, Cynthia McKinney, Bob Barr, Jesse Ventura or whatever serious indie candidates emerge from the hustings, have some time in front of the American people.

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