Member of the reality-based community of progressive (not anonymous) Massachusetts blogs
Raise your hand, who didn’t see (or at least start watching, perhaps you ran screaming) the Warren-Brown debate? I know you weren’t bothering with the Red Sox, so don’t lie.
I find myself in total agreement with Outraged Liberal, who says, “It was nasty and brutish and when the smoke cleared there was one clear loser in last night’s US Senate debate: moderator David Gregory.” I felt, in a manner of speaking, betrayed. After all, I took some time off in the afternoon and spent the rest of the day down at the Tsgonas as a blogger, doing the blogger thing as best I could with an iPad and a smartphone (laptop is on the fritz). To have spent so much time prepping for this debacle of a debate feels wasted.
What’s more, this was a huge production on the part of UML and the Tsongas Arena. A lot of money was spent last night. The media descended in a mass hoard on the city, the arena was full, and the task of logistics, printing signage, traffic direction, and the police presence, was just enormous. This truly was debate-as-spectacle at its finest. What we got in the final analysis fell so far short of all the prep and hype.
What a missed opportunity, as Dick Howe said last night on Twitter. If I find out Marty Meehan had any clout in picking the DC Villager to moderate this debate I shall be very put out. Being in the crowd, I got a sense that a lot of people there felt the same way. It’s not like an hour debate is long to begin with. And to have nearly half of it being used for the way-overplayed (and, I think, satisfactorily answered ten times over) Cherokee and asbestos-Traveler thing, as well as horse race questions that have no bearing on policy or how each of the candidates would conduct their tenure on the Senate floor, was worse than a wasted opportunity - it was nothing short of a travesty of democracy and a showcase of everything wrong with our media culture today.
The twitterverse that I hang out in pretty much agreed - the showstoppers for the most part were not either candidate. It was how horrid David Gregory was, how precious few minutes he spent on substantive issues like Afghanistan, jobs and the economy, the environment (hint: none) or any other issue of substance. And to leave us with a stupid baseball question (I could see Gregory crowing inside with “see? I know local stuff that’s local!”) when we had already lost so much time on inanities was just the last straw.
One of our local radio guys, or even, hell, Jon Keller! would have done a far superior job. As smug as Keller is in his commentary, he stayed out of the candidate’s way in the first debate, and yet controlled the flow of it pretty well. Meehan made huge mistakes marrying the Herald for their political arm; I am hoping that a divorce is imminent. The polls appear flawed (I don’t say that because they went the opposite way of the rest of the ones which I liked - I say that because there are serious questions about their undersampling of Dems and oversampling of Republicans in a presidential year with Obama topping the ticket), the debate was trash, and I think UML’s reputation has been tarnished by mating with the Herald. The only thing you can say about this event is that, short of being content-free, it was well-run, the staff managed the influx of reporters and radio and news trucks and visitors outstandingly well, and the audience appeared to be quite balanced in terms of its cheers and jeers (Brown got applause and so did Warren). The event ran smoothly and was a credit to the University and the city. Too bad we can’t say the same thing about the debate itself.
I will, however, leave you with this:
Edit: If you want a good post on substance, a good place to start is this analysis by Mass Marrier.
Instead on one major question after another, he played and overplayed his alleged impartial card (a.k.a. the bipartisan ploy). He couldn’t and wouldn’t tell us what we’d get by electing him to a full term. He’d pore over each bill’s contents, he’d listen to all arguments and only then decide what he believed and would do. While he refuses to call himself a Republican in person or in campaign material, that sounded dreadfully like the Romney/Ryan shtick. They say that their economic plan is too complex to explain, so we need to elect them and let Congress work out the details. Walrus wings, I say!
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