19 April 2008

PA-thetic, Part II

On Thursday, George Stephanopoulos tried to defend the previous night's Pennsylvania Democratic screwjob debate that he co-moderated with fellow ABC News' talking head, Charles Gibson:
“We asked tough but appropriate questions,” Stephanopoulos told me by phone this afternoon.

When I asked whether questions about flag pins or Bosnia are actually relevant to voters, he replied: “Absolutely.”

“The vote for the president,” Stephanopoulos said, “is one of the most personal” decisions that someone makes. “When people make that choice, they take into account how candidates stand on the issues,” he said, but also are concerned with “experience, character [and] credibility.”

...Stephanopoulos explained that since the candidates are not far apart policy-wise, the “core of the nomination fight” has been about these issues.
Unfortunately, for Georgie, here, pretty much every bit of legitimate data indicates that the economy and the war are what concern voters. (Driving that point home, when the Philadelphia Inquirer polled its readers, fully 80% described ABC's so-called debate as "disappointing" or "terrible.")

Now with the economy and Iraq monopolizing the "What issue is more important for your presidential vote," polls going back to last June, how to explain this:
"Senator Obama, I have a question, and I want to know if you believe in the American flag."
You might remember that particularly asinine inquiry from ABC's farce on Wednesday. As it happens, it appears that the questioner, salt-of the-Pennsylvania-earth, Nash McCabe, was no chance participant, but was discovered by ABC and used as a fig leaf to provide cover for the narrative they had already decided to apply to the fight for the Democratic nomination: that sensationalized non-issues are really what's on the minds of the average voter.

Turns out, the flag-obsessed Ms. McCabe is no stranger to the national stage, having appeared in the New York Times a week or so before:
Asked whom she might vote for in the coming presidential primary election and Nash McCabe, 52, seems almost relieved to be able to unpack the dossier she has been collecting in her head.

It is not about whom she likes, but more a bill of particulars about why she cannot vote for Senator Barack Obama of Illinois.

"How can I vote for a president who won't wear a flag pin?" Mrs. McCabe, a recently unemployed clerk typist, said in a booth at the Valley Dairy luncheonette in this quiet, small city in western Pennsylvania.

Mr. Obama has said patriotism is about ideas, not flag pins.

"I watch him on TV," Mrs. McCabe said. "I keep looking for that lapel pin."

Now, as soon as I read, "How can I vote for a president who won't wear a flag pin," I was ready to unload with all sorts of comments about sticking to voting for American Idol, and wondering whether or not one can use crayon to fill in the lines on optical ballots. Worse, my first thought was that McCabe is a national embarrassment, a stereotype brought to life: the ignorant voter squandering one of our most precious rights on utter inanities (like whether or not you'd want to have a beer with the guy).

Then, I thought about what word is most important to that description:


McCabe and people like her aren't the problem. They're a symptom of the shameless shit-peddling that passes for journalism in our political discourse, best and most recently exemplified by this travesty of a debate. Clearly, the real blame lies with the Gibsons and Stephanopoulos (Stephanopouli?) and all the other architects of this type of coverage: one and all, ethically bankrupt individuals who have long since let their responsibility to the public fall by the wayside in favor of the current circus. The "Nash McCabe" voter is as much a victim of their indefensible choice as the rest of us are victims of the millions of ill-informed citizens that result.

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