Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Riding The Woody Allen Train To Last Night's MSNBC Democrat Debate

I couldn't escape it. Feeling under-the-weather, it crept up on me as I anchored the sofa, unable to move, to reach the remote control, before it was too late.

Last night's MSNBC Democrat Debate from Las Vegas reminded me, very much, of the opening minutes of Woody Allen's "Stardust Memories"...

It, and those of us watching, were on the sad, dour, lifeless train ...

And it had the additional touch of Allen, with NBC's Natalie Morales standing, singularly, off to the side, reading emailed questions, almost in the role as the narrator of a Greek Tragedy.

Or comedy, for the fat-mouthed man from Buffalo was at center stage ... Always at center stage ... Never wavering or giving up his position of center stage ...

I thought it was going to be a debate, but with Brian Williams, and Tim Russert, listed in the role of moderators, it played out more like the pair emulating a couple of high school sophomore journalism students trying to goof on the upperclassman.

This one laid out so badly, I believe Leonard Pinth Garnell wouldn't have wasted his time or energy panning it.

From Steve Benen at the Carpetbagger Report;

About 22 minutes into the Nevada Democratic debate, a heckler in the audience interrupted the proceedings, saying “these are f**cking race-based questions coming from you two, these are race-based questions…”

There was silence from the candidates and the moderators for about eight seconds with no mention of the heckler. Tim Russert, continued with his question for Sen. Hillary Clinton which focused on her characterization that Sen. Obama “is raising false hopes.”

I’ve seen debates in which hecklers jeer candidates, and I’ve seen debates in which hecklers take a stand for one issue or another, but this was the first debate I’ve seen in which a heckler went after a moderator. Worse, I think the guy was probably right.
From Erza Klein's "Worst. Moderators. Ever";
It's almost impossible for me to convey the damage Tim Russert and Brian Williams are doing to the republic this evening.
Chris Cillizza caught this little gem;
* Moderator Brian Williams spoke for all of us sleep-deprived and travel weary journalists when he welcomed the audience back to Los Angeles. He was greeted with lusty booing from the Las Vegas crowd.
And, of course, Little Timmy Russert had to play his usual games, during a round of questioning about the positions on Iraq, in which all three candidates were in basic agreement to pull the troops out during the first year, with some subtle differences.

But Little Timmy didn't like those answers. Little Timmy got a little angry with the candidates and had to let them know that he was a little angry with them, contemptuously and dismissively snipping at them, complete with shaking head and enlarged eyeballs;
RUSSERT: In September, we were in New Hampshire together, and I asked the three of you if you would pledge to have all troops out of Iraq by the end of your first term.

All three of you said, you will not take that pledge. I'm hearing something much different tonight.
If you didn't watch last night, you didn't miss very much. The more informal stage setting - all three sitting around a table, mere feet from each other - was different, however, it offered, very much, more articulated stump speeches. None of the three erred to any great extent and none really scored points on each other.

It was, as we started this post, the Woody Allen train, a dull and uneventful evening.

If it's Tuesday in Las Vegas, it's Meet Timmy and Brian making asses of themselves (and, as I am writing this post, I hear a promo from MSNBC, that this dynamic-less duo will be hosting and moderating an upcoming Republican debate in Florida ... Egads!)

Hmmm ... Maybe it was last night, or hearing of the future moderation duties is what made Maureen Dowd so sick ...

Bonus Debate Links

A "Must Read" here - Matthew Yglesias and his rip-roaring "The Unbearable Inanity of Tim Russert"

MSNBC Transcript - Democratic Presidential Candidates Debate for Jan. 15

Big Tent Democrat: Why Obama, And Democrats, Won The Debate

Joan Walsh: The Democrats defeat the media

Josh Marshall: Nevada Debate Blogging 3.0

Steve Benen: I watch debates, so you don’t have to

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