Brian Williams has taken a mini-buffeting for his cliche performance at the other night's Republican Presidential debate at the Reagan Library. Noman didn't think it was substantively different from most Presidential debates he's seen, which is not to say the criticism is off mark. On the contrary, it is spot on. It is also Quixotic to tilt at this windmill because short of everyone's unplugging the television set and otherwise tuning out mainstream media, nothing will lessen its Liberal bias. Liberals own it and populate it from university departments to television studios, New York to Hollywood. Ezra Klein's JournoList 400 didn't so much prove it as confirm it. The Left runs media in the service of its socio-political beliefs and against the variegated beliefs of the non-Left, which it considers the Far-Right. You get neither Brian Williams' job nor chance to moderate a Presidential debate unless you're a member of the club. Alternative media need not apply.
Noman has written of his belief that the Republican field's passing through this gauntlet of ideologically hostile reporters asking gotcha questions, winnowing out opposition and inconsistency in order to get Republicans to claw at each other's throats--all in the service of an incumbent opponent and his political philosophy--will help it to find its voice, its nerve, its message, its soul and its spokesman if not its champion. As Nietzsche said, that which does not kill me makes me stronger. Noman sees the Republican field getting stronger. And, that is good for the country, and world.
In the spirit of bipartisanship, Noman would like to see the Democratic party enjoy the blessings of adversity as well. Since President Obama won't be facing hostile questioners, and wouldn't be even if running opposed, Noman would like to propose the following adjustment to the debate calendar.
Invite President Obama, Majority Leader Reid, and former House Speaker Pelosi to face a panel of politically, philosophically, ideologically opposed interlocutors. Have these dispensers of government largesse defend their beliefs, statements and actions--especially those between 2006 and 2010 when they dominated Congress--before the American people.
Naturally, there would be fewer interviewers to choose from. Rush Limbaugh springs to mind, though he's made a profession of ridicule and sarcasm to an extent that disqualifies him. He's no more biased, and much more intelligent, than Brian Wiliams, Gwen Iffils or Jim Leher, say. But he lacks their decorum and veneer of respectability.
Noman thinks that ex-life-long-Liberal, David Mamet, would be an excellent choice. The rest of the panel would be of little import. (Nevertheless, George Will and James Taranto are names worth considering.) In his political confession, "The Secret Knowledge," Mamet writes:
Our culture is being destroyed by the Left. What difference that the good-willed do so in the name of Equality? It is being destroyed.
The decision to allow a thirteen-story Islamic Center to be built in the vicinity of Ground Zero may be defensible under the rubric of law; but it is a cultural obscenity, allowable only if the State, the Left, or the individual asserts that every decision must be adjudicated according to the new understanding of the anointed.
The Government sues the State of Arizona for the enforcement of laws the passage of which are not only the right of the state under the Constitution, but the content of which is virtually identical with federal law.
The State of California sentences the farmers of its Central Valley to drought, and their farms to destruction because a small fish called the delta smelt has been declared endangered.
That our culture is falling apart is apparent to any impartial observer. But what observer can be impartial? Conservatives are aghast; we are shocked at the actions of the Left, and we are astounded that they do not acknowledge these actions' results.
It is not that they do not care. But that they cannot afford to notice, for comparing their actions to the results would bring about either their ejection from the group (should they voice their doubts) or, should they merely follow their perceptions to their logical conclusions, the psychic trauma incident upon a revision of their worldview.
The superego, here, has made a terrible bargain.Tendentious? You bet it is. That's the point. Potemkin messiahs never face a televised engagement against narrowly-focused and background supplied opposition, to people aiming at dissecting their fundamental beliefs in order to prove them wrong in public and ruin their candidacies. In fact, Liberals are protected form it, which is why their governing notions are so stale, unimaginative and out of touch with reality. Hilary Clinton was subjected to a simulacrum of it in the run up to 2008 when the media ditched her for Barack Obama, and she cried publicly. Only conservatives and Republicans face these lions as they are the Far-Right, the enemy, the Christians in the Colosseum. The lugubrious political corollary to this electorally salubrious fact for Democrats is that voters never get to see them mix it up--really mix it up with the survival of their candidacies hanging in the balance of every skirmish--with people convinced to the core of their error and dead set on exposing them. Pity. Noman thinks we could learn so much, especially who to trust and not to trust with leadership responsibilities.
In a related development, the WSJ ran a piece last week on the President's sinking political profile: "Voter Discontent Deepens Ahead of Obama Jobs Plan--Obama Faces Widening Voter Pessimism, New Data Indicate." One of the President's supporters gave voice to the media standard that applies to Democrats:
Some of the president's supporters from 2008 appear willing to keep listening. "I think people are ready for that one thing, that one victory, and that's all it will take to get us back," Don Crane, an Obama supporter and president of the Western Reserve Building and Construction Trades Council in Youngstown, said as a crowd left Mr. Anthony's, a restaurant in Boardman following a Chamber of Commerce breakfast.That "one thing, that one victory," is all it takes to bring on a chorus of "Happy Days Are Here Again." An interminable string of Democratic missteps, blunders and disasters are expunged with that one media-ignited spark of optimism. And if none is forthcoming from the candidate himself, Hollywood or television will supply the deficit just before the election. Republicans on the other hand face the alternate dynamic. Years or decades of nearly uninterrupted prosperity and national success are insufficient to halt the media's restless search for an Achilles heel, a vomiting incident, any hint of scandal, an oncoming problem no matter how remote, anything to put the villain on the run. The longer the good times, the more fevered the pursuit. Fellow travelers will supply the fraudulent documents or pre-election indictments. The media will run with it.
Adopting Noman's modest proposal would do very little to balance the scales. But, it would go a long way towards arousing the public from its trance and removing the scales from its eyes. It would also help the Democratic Party escape into the 21st century from 1930's governance, 19th century grievances and 18th century philosophy.