by Max Brantley
Purely for fun, I offer a Columbia Journalism Review hit on NYT columnist Maureen Dowd, the avowed working stiff's friend, and her writing on the elitism question in the Democratic presidential primary debate. Mo isn't hurting, in case you didn't know. (For good measure, enjoy a whuppin' put on Chris Matthews, king of misogyny.)
NY Times, interestingly, said Clinton was the clear winner in the debate Wednesday night (Obama "consistently on the defensive"). But Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo scored the whole affair as nearly worthless thanks mostly to the ABC moderators.
What I didn't like about the debate, though, was the debate itself. Not only were most of the questions on partisan gotchas and frivolous points. But more importantly the questions upon which the candidates were pressed the most were ones that presumed the correctness of Republican agenda items, sometimes explicitly so -- on taxes, capital gains taxes, gun rights, Iraq, etc.
Tom Shales dumps on ABC, too, a theme that has developed across just about every website I've checked this morning. Greg Mitchell of Editor and Publisher called it the "most embarrassing performance by media in a major presidential debate in years." ABC Charles Gibson's suggestion, in worrying about his capital gains tax, that $200,000-income families are middle class drew dozens of hoots. ($200,000 puts you in the top 4 percent. Simple arithmetic: 96 percent make less. The middle is somewhere a good bit lower on the scale, Charlie.)
I'll risk poking a stick in sleeping Obamaists, however, by saying that the liberal websites seem a great deal more exercised about irrelevant trivia now that much of it is directed at Obama, as well as Clinton. We are heading to a replay of 2000 and 2004, when a badly flawed Republican glided above media obsession with GOP-dished narratives on the Democratic nominees. Anybody who puts the blame on Clinton for this isn't paying attention to the real culprits. Obama supporters have been kidding themselves in thinking he'd be treated any differently. Maybe now they get it.