Custom Search

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Was Obama Treated Unfairly At The Democratic Debate?

Many complaints were leveled at Charlie Gibson and George Stephanopoulos, mostly from Barack Obama supporters, about the questions that were asked of Obama in that debate (transcript here) but after going through it, The Politico points out that "the balance of political questions (15) to policy questions (13) was more substantive than other debates this year that prompted no deluge of protests."

In fact, this was the first Democratic debate after the controversial words from Obama's pastor of almost 20 years, Jeremiah Wright, became public. The first debate since Obama's "middle America" comments about small town people clinging to their guns and religion because they were "bitter", and Gibson and Stephanopoulos, would have been abdicating their responsibilities if they did not ask about those issues.

The problem of balance comes into the equation because Hillary Clinton has been a huge figure in American politics for so long that the spotlight has generally been on her while Obama made awesome speeches and was generally seen as the media darling.

The reason for that is simple.

Obama was largely unknown. There wasn't years of information built up surrounding him to draw from.

Now that Barack Obama is in the spotlight, people are finally getting a glimpse into the "man" not the aura surrounding him and the media has finally found information to balance out the equation.

The more that is learned, the more he will rightly be questioned and in the latest Democratic debate, he clearly showed he wasn't ready for this change.

Moreover, those questions about Jeremiah Wright, about Obama’s association with 1960s radical William Ayers, about apparent contradictions between his past and present views on proven wedge issues like gun control, were entirely in-bounds. If anything, they were overdue for a front-runner and likely nominee.

If Obama was covered like Clinton is, one feels certain the media focus would not have been on the questions, but on a candidate performance that at times seemed tinny, impatient and uncertain.

Asking a presidential candidate questions about his associations and relationships, about his views on topics that have been highly publicized and controversial, should be the standard and not the exception and yet Obama and his supporters seems to want sympathy (and donations) because he was finally asked some pertinent, relevant, questions.

Here is a portion of the email the Obama campaign sent out after the debate, the email was cleverly titled in the subject line as "Gotcha".

Susan --

Did you see the debate last night?

If you did, you saw more gotcha politics and distractions than questions about the pressing issues affecting our country.

In fact, it took more than 45 minutes before Barack was asked about the economy, health care, or foreign policy.

Regrettably, Senator Clinton seemed all too comfortable with that type of debate. She's running a 100% negative campaign in Pennsylvania, taking every opportunity to make personal and discredited attacks against Senator Obama.

You can send a message that politics doesn't have to be played this way.

Make your first donation today, and someone who's already given will match whatever amount you decide to give. You can double your impact, and you'll even get to see the name and town of the fellow supporter matching your first online gift.

Will you make a $25 donation now?

Of course it goes on to explain why i should donate to his campaign and how he wanted a change in this type of politics.

What exactly does he want changed?

Does he want to go back to no one knowing more about him? Is he so scared of what people might learn now that the focus is on him, that he would rather not be asked legitimate questions and where he will whine when he is asked those questions?

Do we, the people that vote, not have the right to know every single thing we can about a candidate that wants to become president? Not only about policy stands, but about who the person is? What they think? What their beliefs are?

As the New York Times' 'The Caucus' points out, liberal bloggers, again mostly Obama supporters within the liberal blogosphere, all went into a complete frenzy telling their readers to complain to ABC, swamping ABC with emails whining about how unfair it was to ask Obama these types of questions.

And one’s got to wonder how much of the outrage stems from a true disappointment in the moderators’ focus on gaffes — oh, woe is journalism! — and how much comes from frustration that Mr. Obama was the candidate to have more explaining to do.

They also point out that Hillary Clinton has received scrutiny for 16 years and now that some of the scrutiny is being focused on Obama, it seems the rules have changed and Obama supporters, instead of being happy that people can finally have a chance to know their candidate are complaining because the information that is being asked about isn't exactly favorable to Obama.

So, back to the title question, "was Obama treated unfairly"? Or is the question that should be asked, "Is Obama finally being treated fairly"?