Peggy Noonan poses a fictitious scenario: what if the Democratic CNN/YouTube debate had been handled in exactly the same way as CNN handled the recent Republican one. That is, allowed so many opposition party plants to ask skewed questions that played to negative stereotypes. It is an interesting thought experiment:
I will never forget that breathtaking moment when, in the CNN/YouTube debate earlier this fall, the woman from Ohio held up a picture and said, "Mrs. Clinton, Mr. Obama, Mr. Edwards, this is a human fetus. Given a few more months, it will be a baby you could hold in your arms. You all say you're 'for the children.' I would ask you to look America in the eye and tell us how you can support laws to end this life. Thank you."
They were momentarily nonplussed, then awkwardly struggled to answer, to regain lost high ground. One of them, John Edwards I think, finally criticizing the woman for being "manipulative," using "hot images" and indulging in "the politics of personal destruction." The woman then stood in the audience for her follow up. "I beg your pardon, but the literal politics of personal destruction–of destroying a person–is what you stand for."
Oh, I wish I weren't about to say, "Wait, that didn't happen." For of course it did not. Who of our media masters would allow a question so piercing on such a painful and politically incorrect subject?
I thought of this the other night when citizens who turned out to be partisans for Mrs. Clinton, Mr. Obama and Mr. Edwards asked the Republicans, in debate, would Jesus support the death penalty, do you believe every word of the Bible, and what does the Confederate flag mean to you?
It was a good debate, feisty and revealing. It's not bad that the questions had a certain spin, and played on stereotypes of the GOP. It's just bad that it doesn't quite happen at Democratic debates. Somehow, there, an obscure restraint sets in on the part of news producers. Too bad. Running for most powerful person in the world is, among other things, an act of startling presumption. They all should be grilled, everyone, both sides. Winter voting approaches; may many chestnuts be roasted on an open fire.
I've pointed out that I thought the candidates handled the skewed questions rather well. I have also pointed out that CNN abdicated its responsibility to viewers by failing to either block Democratic party activists or disclose who they were. And I guarantee that if a Republican activist had posed the above question, lefty heads would have exploded all over the blogosphere in an unstoppable chain reaction of howling, frothing rage.
Noonan also comments on a number of other developments in the political world, and I'd recommend going over to read her take on things. She paints a very interesting picture of Hillary Clinton, who shows all the signs of budding political panic.