Saturday, October 04, 2008

Voter Homework, Oct 4

First, Brooke Gladstone and Kathleen Hall Jamieson talk about Thursday night's vicepresidential debate and about campaign coverage to date on Bill Moyers Journal.

Particularly important is Jamieson's recommendation to weak interviewers like Gwen Ifill, on how to proceed when a candidate skirts a question: "For my next question, could you please answer the last question?" "For my next question, could you please answer the question that I asked earlier?"

For the upcoming debates I am not hopeful, though, because the next two moderators (Brokaw and Schieffer) are old and biased in favor of John McCain/the GOP (the fact that they are in the GOP's good graces is well known). I'd be really surprised if either one handled follow-ups fairly, particularly with John McCain. Schieffer's performance in the 2004 Bush-Kerry debate was disgraceful for its very lack of follow-ups when Bush failed to answer the question (much like Ifill with Palin on Thursday night).

And while we are on the subject of campaign coverage and debates, here is a study that examines the type of questions that candidates were asked during the primary season. The problems highlighted during the primary debates, alas, have not gone away in time for the presidential debate season.

Then, this week Congress passed the largest bailout in the history of the world, $840 billion. We must add this staggering figure to the prohibitive cost of the war in Iraq (not to mention Afghanistan). At this point, a look back in history is in order, to a tape by Osama Bin Laden in which he boasts of Al Qaeda's contribution to bankrupting America, which should remind us of how mujahideens played a role in bankrupting the Soviet Union already.

Finally, to end on a slightly lighter note, here is SNL's excellent take on the Biden v Palin debate.

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