Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Veep debates should be a good show

The veep debates haven’t even started and moderator Gwen Ifill is already taking fire for her new book “The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama.” Conservatives say this points to bias – and racism. The book hits the shelves in January.

Review Ifill’s interviews on PBS. She has earned a reputation for even-handedness.

Not me. I’m biased. Without apology.

Ifill has had a rough start. This week, she was carrying a stack of research for the debate when she fell and broke her ankle. The injury won’t stop her from doing the show, however.

Palin will just have to come up with some other excuse if she wants to cancel. (A college professor dryly observed that someone’s grandmother always dies just before mid-terms.) And McCain has a history of canceling campaign events going back years.

Did you see where Dave Letterman caught John McCain in a bald lie about canceling a guest shot because the senator had to get back to Washington for the economic crisis? Instead, McCain was caught on camera getting make up for an interview with Katie Couric. In fact, McCain did not go to Washington until the next day.

Question: if McCain will lie to David Letterman, what makes you think McCain will tell the truth to you?

I told you I was biased -- but that's a good question.


George Phenix said...

That was fast. No sooner than did this post go up until I was on the receiving end of some terse emails describing in colorful terms what I could do with my bias.

I'll say it again: yes, I'm biased.

You're not? Let's see a show of hands of those who think you are not.

Ira Kennedy said...

Jeez, seems folks these days are quick to get their feelings hurt -- which is one of the excuses for not passing the bailout that no one wants anyway. Pelosi was off-base with her bashing the Republicans at a critical moment, but apparently grownup behavior is in short supply on both sides.

George, everyone is biased one way or another. To admit bias is actually a very admirable trait.

Frankly, the country wasn't this divided in the 60s. So much for the "Uniter". But then again I'm biased.

sph said...

My thesaurus has many definitions for bias. Foregone conclusion is one of them. It was foregone conclusion that George Bush was out for enhancement of himself and his cronies - guess that makes me biased. It was my partiality for peace that said slow down, is War in Iraq the only way to stop terrorism? Again makes me biased. My prejudice against white supremacy makes me Un-American? Again, I am biased. If America can survive this administration in tact and not put another conservative, out of touch, dishonest old man in the White House, my bias might lighten and hope return. I don't wear my bias as a red badge of courage; I'd rather not be this way. I’d rather wear pride in the honesty and sincerity of my president. But I have had it with being told that fact is false and false is true and if bias is what it takes then biased is what I will be until I live in a democracy again. Atta boy, George.

Max Fischer said...

I hold bias against hypocrisy and cling to my bias for irony. Gobama.

The South Plainsman said...

I have no idea whether Ifill will be fair or not. If we are going to draw these debate "moderators" from among the press, it would be difficult to find one not biased to toward the left. That is something we all understand.

An Obama victory and inauguration on the date her book is released creates a huge conflict of interest. This fact was concealed from the McCain campaign, and he agreed to have her. The appearance of impropriety should cause her to step down, but it is too late.

Me, I am biased too. But I am not holding my self out to be unbiased. I hope that Obama loses, and costs her a lot of money on her book.

As for division in the country, I would suggest that Ira and the rest of you get a good book on the battles between the "monacrats" as Jefferson called them, and the "republicans."

"That each party endeavors to get into the administration of the government and exclude the other from power is true, and may be stated as a motive of action: but this is only secondary; the primary motive being a real and radical difference of political principle. I sincerely wish our differences were but personally who should govern, and that the principles of our Constitution were those of both parties. Unfortunately, it is otherwise; and the question of preference between monarchy and republicanism, which has so long divided mankind elsewhere, threatens a permanent division here." --Thomas Jefferson to John Melish, 1813.

That division is still present, and is one we will always have: a division between a strong, all powerful, Federal government, and a government that reveres individual liberty.

Guess which one Jefferson went for.

JohnSBoles said...

I am only a product of Lynn County public schools and college level study of business. I am not an educated historian. My lack of knowledge on any particular subject has not yet deterred me from the development of an opinion. But I digress... I am having a bit of difficulty imagining that Jefferson would "go for" The Department of Homeland Security, an Administration that would seek to spread Democracy by pre-emptive war and request a great deal of money with no strings attached to resolve a financial downturn that would include government ownership of lending institutions and/or the paper resultant of their bad practices.

George Phenix said...

If you go back to the top and re-read what I wrote, you'll notice I ducked on the question of the debate moderator.

But the more I think about it, the more I know it just isn't right.

Gwen Ifill's book begs the question of impropriety. I love her to pieces but having her serve as moderator now feeds a problem of perception.

I was wrong to breeze by this fundamental problem.

Is it too late to get another moderator?

The South Plainsman said...

Thanks George, We agree on that. I also misspoke. I do not wish for Ms. Ifill to lose money on her book. I hope Obama loses so that she doesn't make a lot more on the book than she otherwise would.

By the way, I am beginning to get a gut feeling that Obama is going to win. After 50 years in politics, my gut is usually right, but can be spectacularly wrong as well. LOL

And, of course, my gut can change. There is still over a month.

Max Fischer said...

my gut tells me that the roughly 3%of closet racists won't vote for the tan guy, so Obama better keep his 5%+ lead...regarding a conflict of interest, anybody know the content of the book? My bet is this will snowball all day and by tonight we will have a replacement moderator. Any takers?

The South Plainsman said...

Johnsboles, Jefferon would be quite terribly disappointed with both parties. His biggest disappointment would be how all powerful the government is and how much some people, at least, depend upon it.

He always thought that the duty of government was to preserve conditions in which the people coud pursue happiness and productivity. But I don't think what we have now is what he had in mind.

My point was that he would be more favorable to a party that revered individual liberty and not big government. We have no such thing now. Some talk about it, but their actions do not back up the talk.

The South Plainsman said...

Max, I don't know who would replace her. Those things take a lot of preparation, and it would be difficult to get someone this late. If I were the McCain camp, I would let it go and let the chips fall where they may.

I doubt that Ms. Ifill would be as bad as some would fear, and if she were, it would benefit Palin.

Ifill does have a conflict, and it should have been disclosed. But I think we should just get on with the show.

Max Fischer said...

I agree it's a conflict, in particular had it not been disclosed. However, her book had been disclosed in an interview with her recently in the Washinton Post... way this could have gone completely without notice. Call me cynical, but I think this was a calculated "controversy" and the McCain camp wanted exactly what we have, and that's for this "surprise" to be reported and - as you said - then let the chips fall as they may. They now have a built in excuse if things don't go their way. Savvy move. In all this, McCain appears to take the high road by shruggin' his shoulders (oops, is that like saying that FDR would "stand up"?) and praising Gwen. Total maverick strategery!

Let's just dust off Connie Chung and call it no-harm-no-foul.

Jeff Hebert said...

I agree with Max, I think this was a calculated ploy on the part of the McCain campaign to have a built-in "excuse" if Palin doesn't do well in the debate. "It wuz rigged" always plays well to the Republican base.

Either McCain knew about the book deal ahead of time and approved her anyway, in which case this is all a bunch of fake outrage, or they didn't know about it and they've proven once again that they can't research their way out of a paper bag.

Incompetents or liars, take your pick.

If I were Obama, I'd call their bluff and get a new moderator. You can bet that both camps have prepped for the moderator -- watching tapes of her, studying the kinds of questions she's asked in the past, etc. -- and putting a new one in will wipe out all of that research. Each candidate will have to think on their toes more, and I have a pretty good feeling there's no way that helps Palin.

Jeff Hebert said...

And George, if you think you're getting angry e-mail, check out what arch-conservative Republican apparatchik Kathleen Parker garnered for daring to question the qualifications of Mrs. Palin:

Full story here.

The South Plainsman said...

You guys amaze me. This lady was picked quite a long time ago, and the Debate Commission should have disclosed the conflict. To imagine that this is a ploy by McCain is simply nonsense.

I doubt that there was any bad intent on anybody's part, but it does turn out that Ifill will probably profit from an Obama win.

JohnSBoles said...

South Plainsman, We are in complete agreement re Jefferson. Ifil should do the right thing and back away.

Ira Kennedy said...

Plainsman, I don't need a suggested reading list. If you reread, I said "Frankly, the country wasn't this divided in the 60s." I didn't say in all of recorded time.

Max is right. The McCain campaign should have known about this before now. Anyone taking bets that McCain wants to cancel the debate over the Ifill issue?

Perhaps someone else should be picked to moderate. Any unbiased names come to mind? I mean won't most any choice come from the "Liberal Media'?

Help me with this one: Biden can't be too tough on the little lady cause he's a guy. Ifill can't be too tough on her cause she's written a book which uses Obama as a metaphor.

Maybe there shouldn't even be a moderator. Just have a real debate?

The South Plainsman said...

Ira, I was an elected Democratic official in the 1960s, and I can assure you that the country was this divided, or more. You don't have to go back to Jefferson's time. Check out the immediate post WW I years. Don't guess I need to mention almost all of the 19th Century.

My point was and is that this country has almost always been divided like this. When the center mostly moves to one side or another, then we get landslides, but those are somewhat ephemeral.

I didn't address George's mention of a "lie" to Letterman. Didn't hear it. What I would have told Letterman is: "You are an ignorant, biased ass, and I am not going to appear on your show." That would probably be nearer to the truth, but which would be proper?

Max Fischer said...

debate commision aside, I still maintain that there is no way that McCain was ambushed by the news today.

George Phenix said...

John McCain doesn't agree with your assessment of David Letterman. McCain has been on the Letterman show at least 12 times.

He's a celebrity regular !

The South Plainsman said...

Was saying what I would have said. I suspect that McCain was taking some time planning what he was going to do, and figured that appearing would be a waste of time and effort.

Ifill has been quoted by msnbc as saying:

“The proof is in the pudding. They can watch the debate tomorrow night and make their own decisions about whether or not I’ve done my job.”

That is good enough for me.

The South Plainsman said...

My last post, thank goodness. John McCain has now weighed in on the Ifill business:

Fox's Carl Cameron asked John McCain today if he thought that PBS journalist Gwen Ifill should recuse herself from moderating Thursday's VP debate in St. Louis.

"I think that Gwen Ifill is a professional, and I think she will do a totally objective job because she is a highly-respected professional," McCain said.

"Does this help that if she has written a book that's favorable to Sen. Obama?" McCain asked. "Probably not."

sph said...

Thank you South Plainsman. This would not be nearly as erudite if you weren't contributing, really. We would just go in circles as liberals are known to do.

Ira Kennedy said...


Anonymous said...

Send Sarah to jail!

Anonymous said...

Wow! 25 comments before I can even get started. First, I am not biased,It's just because I am always right when it comes to the liberals. Jeff constantly accuses the Republicans try to take advantage of any given situation,but if he'll just analyze the past he will find that it's the Democrats who are the "sneaky Pete's"
I don't care if Ifill is the moderator or not,Palin will more than hold her own against the 'glib' Senator Biden. It's purely comical the way he steps on his tongue so often.
I think that the bigggest problem with the Libs is that they are so biased,you couldn't drive a chisel between reality and what they percieve to be the truth,but rarely is.
This country was not founded on liberal princples by a long shot. Everyone was expected to pull themselves up by their bootstraps with little or no assistance,but with plenty of encouragement.
I am totally against the 'bailout'.
The former heads of Fannie May and Freddie Mac,who are ,by the way, now economic advisers for Obama, do not deserve one dime of 'golden parachute'income.In fact they along with some of their Democratic supporters, should be in jail.It's amazing that the media will not report what McCain told the Senate when the two programs were started.He told the Senate that the result of initiating Fannie May and any subsequent like programs would one day come back to hit the taxpayers hard. Of course Dodd,Sweet Barney,Biden and Stewart in particular, derided such an evil response from a republican. Maybe that's part of the reason I'm so terribly biased,and rightly so.----------Goose

sph said...

Goose, Goose, Goose - did you read the previous BLOG article about fact checking at

Check out the "golden parachute" and "financial advisor" for the Obama campaign site. It's got a big red ball beside it - not true.

Anonymous said...

sph-didn't I just say I am never wrong!! Call Snopes and tell they made an error.Tell them Goose said so and they'll probably jump right on it to straighten it out!!!----

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