While the Clinton-Obama debate on ABC last night did turn substantive in its second half, the first half was downright embarrassing, and you have to blame Charles Gibson and George Stephanopolous and Hillary Clinton. Gibson and Stephanopolous because they spent the first half of the debate asking questions that had nothing to do with leadership or issues, and only had to do with personal gibes (“So, Senator Obama, how long has it been since you stopped beating your wife?” “I never beat my wife”. “Come, now, if you never beat your wife, why would I be asking you this question?” – you get the picture).
Clinton gets her share of the blame because she egged on the discussion (“OK, I believe Mr. Obama when he said he never beat his wife. But have you seen those bruises on his children?”)
Obviously, I am not quoting. But Obama was blamed for not wearing a flag pin through a pre-arranged video, a grandmotherly voter said “I am not doubting your patriotism, but why don’t you wear a flag pin; that’s what all patriots do, you traitor” (or something like that). He was accused of sitting on a board of directors with a man who is a former weatherman (not the Willard Scott variety), who recently claimed that the weathermen did not do enough in the sixties. He was accused of not leaving his church when Pastor Wright set off on his various diatribes. He was accused of demeaning small town residents by saying that many were bitter and stuck to their guns and faith (something that everyone knows is true). In each case Clinton had her own snide way of deepening the wound (“Surely, Senator Obama is an honorable man, but I would have left the church. I think small town people are too smart to fall for Obama. I think that once a weatherman, always a weatherman. I wear a flag on my pajamas. But, surely Senator Obama is an honorable man.”
I saw Cokie Roberts interviewed the other night by Charlie Rose. He asked her whether, if she had not gone into journalism, she might have gone into politics. Her answer (like the question) was rather meaningless, but it got me thinking…..For our first female president, who would we rather have leading the country, Hillary Clinton or Cokie Roberts. Things would go better with Cokie, I think.