If you were to ask me who won the debate last night, I would have to respond back with a question of my own. In a dogfight who wins? If you said Michael Vick, you're right; and, undoubtedly, last night ABC was Michael Vick.
Oh sure, people are rightly condemning ABC's trite and inane questions and criticizing the substance (or lack thereof) of moderation by Charlie Gibson and George Stephanopoulos but their criticism only reinforces ABCs market share and profits which are further reinforced by their iron grip on the debate footage. Using an amped up version of Tim Russert's "gotcha" tactics, Gibson and Stephanopolos took presidential debates to a new low. A couple of bouncers and a blood test was all that separated last night from an episode of Maury or Jerry Springer, and just like those shows the hosts pitted their guests off using extremely loaded questions. And while Obama and Clinton ripped each other to shreds the moderators stood back with their cocky grins and tried to look as if they were civil and calmly academic. It was as if they said, "Hey look at how full of shit they are! All we asked was a simple yes or no question and they just refuse to answer it. Now buy my book." This is the type of ploy that has made Tim Russert's career and undoubtedly Gibson and Stephanopoulos' cred has risen. As Sully commented:
"...this was ridiculous...Again, it's not illegitimate as such - but the only reason it is asked is to try and trip these people up and make Gibson and Stephanopoulos look smart."
Good for them, but disasterious for any one who actually cares about knowing what our candidates think of anything that might, you know, possibly, affect our lives. Does Hillary bake cookies? Does Obama wear a flag pin? I wouldn't care less if Hillary baked pot brownies while Obama wore assless chaps if they got us out of Iraq and gave us health insurance, but hey, at least I don't have to worry about whether or not they know Bill Ayers. Great.
You know how bad this was? Type in ABC debate in Google and look at the hits. Usually you'll find at the top basic summaries of the debate followed by opinion and critique, but this time around all the hits are criticism. I haven't seen such bad reviews since "Glitter" hit the box office.
As for the candidates...well in a way I felt sorry for both of them. It was like watching Mad Max and Master Blaster in Thunderdome, and Blaster's helmet got knocked off revealing him to be a 'tard. Now I can't exactly say who was who out of Obama and Clinton, but I know that your moderators never stopped their chant of "Two men enter! One man leave!" Egged on by such questions as, "Why don't you wear a flag pin" (To Obama) and "Do you thing Rev. Wright loves America" (To Obama--I still CAN NOT believe he asked that question) Obama was constantly kept on the defense, and when again attacked by Clinton he was forced to get a little dirty, reminding us that Bill Clinton pardoned two weathermen, and Hill's 'cookie' scandal. True enough, his retorical skill was effective and on a textual level I think he made an appropriate response, but physically he looked beat up, like Rocky at the end of Rocky...well at the end of every Rocky movie. Hillary didn't fare much better. Sullivan claimed that Hil looked less exhausted because she had her "humanity surgically removed". I wouldn't go that far, but her years of experience in dealing with that kind of filth from the GOP has given her a harder skin to withstand that pressure. Still though, there's a part of me that had my Luke Skywalker moment, looking into her eyes and thinking "Damn, there's some part of her in there that's still good." To me she looked ashamed at herself for slinging that same crap at Obama that for years was thrown at her, and she should be ashamed. When Obama mentioned the 'cookie' incident, her eyes looked down and she flushed. She knew that this pit was wrong but she jumped in again, her ambition overruling her integrity.
For that point, if I had to pick a winner between the two of them I would have to say Obama. By the time it came to policy he definitely was beat and was completely running on fumes. His explanations of his cap on the Capital Gains tax and payroll might as well have been read off a telepromter by a robot, but he won in that first half for this simple reason, a reason I think Americans will recognize. When forced to jump in that pit with Hillary he was the only one to really look around and verbalize that the pit itself is a despondent and dreary place that isn't worthy of regard, where as Clinton seemed to welcome its dark fold. Because he made that point eloquently and repeatedly I think that, just like Hillary's attack ads, her embracing of smears and negativity will blow back against her worse than anything charged to Obama.