That is the heart and sole of the problem with this primary. If they are so close on policy then what is there to talk about? Well the news media is happy to fill that gap with questions focused on controversy. The Pennsylvania debate was a serious travesty. All of the initial questions had to do with not just old news, but previously covered missteps. I already know about Hillary's sniper fire debacle. I already know that Barack has attended church with a pastor who said "G** D*** America" they've both had several opportunities to talk about it--why do we need to ask them again? Because asking them about policy is boring. Because bickering gets higher ratings than meaningful discourse. Because health care doesn't make for a decent sound bite.
Here's a quote from that same debate:
SENATOR CLINTON: Well, Charlie, I'm going to do everything I possibly can to make sure that one of us takes the oath of office next January. I think that has to be the overriding goal, whatever we have to do.
Obviously we are still contesting to determine who will be the nominee. But once that is resolved, I think it is absolutely imperative that our entire party close ranks, that we become unified.
I will do everything to make sure that the people who supported me support our nominee.
I will go anywhere in the country to make the case. And I know that Barack feels the same way, because both of us have spent 15 months traveling our country. I have seen the damage of the Bush years. I've seen the extraordinary pain that people have suffered from because of the failed policies; you know, those who have held my hands who have lost sons or daughters in Iraq, and those who have lost sons or daughters because they didn't have health insurance.
And so, regardless of the differences there may be between us, and they are differences, they pale in comparison to the differences between us and Senator McCain.
So we will certainly do whatever is necessary to make sure that a Democrat is in the White House next January.
It didn't make the news summaries, even though both candidates expressed a similar sentiment. What do we get instead? We get Charles Gibson asking them if they would commit to being on a ticket together regardless of the primary outcome and both of them being silent. It's funny, and it seems to be making a point that they don't like each other. The real point is that Charles needs to address questions to a candidate by name in a debate.
Now according to this story it seems that race is an issue for 18% of Pennsylvania Democrats, so much so that 68% of that group wouldn't support Barak Obama in a general election. That sounds like a staggering number. A damning commentary on our current opinions about race and the electability (which is not a word btw) of Barack Obama. But let's unpack this number a bit 68% of 18% is about 12%. 12% doesn't sound quite so edgy and divisive but man 68% sure makes the eyes pop out. I say let's stop making the Today Show news writers the biggest swing vote. I say stop trying to make news and just freaking report it.
The news is that both these candidates want a Democrat in the White House, but the "story" is that they are tearing each other apart and that their supporters would rather vote for McCain than the opposing camp. Here's my pitch to the commentators/chief political correspondents/White House Bureau chiefs: If you talk about what's actually happening, you'll be novel enough to get those ratings you're trying to drum up.