Saturday, September 27, 2008

Obama, the Debate, and the Media

by Norman Markowitz

I watched the presidential debate yesterday and saw a much clearer Obama victory on both style and substance then the talking heads of CNN and MSNBC who tried to minimize and even trivialize what had just gone on before them.

Of Course I wanted Obama to win decisively. But in 1980, even though I cast my vote for Gus Hall, which I am still proud of, I didn't want Ronald Reagan to win decisively over Jimmy Carter, and I thought that he did, although most of my friends tried to minimize that victory. Even though I cast my vote for Ralph Nader in 2000, which I regret very deeply,I didn't want George W. Bush to sort of win without losing in his debate with Al Gore, to break even a contest between Bush's friendly platitudes and Gore's boring pontifications. But that is what I thought happened.

Yesterday, I saw an old man, rigid and pasty-faced, either arrogantly or fearfully refusing to look at his debating opponent, repeating what was in effect Republican boiler plate, emphasizing his "experience" while he said nothing to show that he had any relevant experience. And I saw a much younger man, both in age and heart, confident, articulate, flexible, showing that he he could think on his feet, not respond to his opponents provocations, and make his points clearly and confidently.

Then the talking heads came on and over analyzed everything. Both did well in terms of style(McCain did terribly in terms of style, even compared to the two Bush presidents) McCain's issue was "experience," Obama's "judgment," as if the two can really be separated, and both did well. McCain's childish attempt to say "I was right and you were wrong on the surge and you wont admit it" showed either experience or judgment, not to mention any understanding of guerrila warfare, or the political economic situation in Iraq, the presence of Al Qaeda, the increased influence of Iran, the hundreds of billions of dollars in wasted U.S. money, the army of private contractors who have treated Iraq like a military reservation and U.S. taxpayers as cash cows. These were the statements of a man who not only is incapable of change but incapable of thinking clearly.

Why did the talking heads say such nice things about McCain's abysmal performance, when Obama's victory was so black and white. Perhaps the still can't see Obama's strengths because in another sense they are seeing things in black and white.