November 30, 2007

Media Matters does much praiseworthy work in examining many of the conservative biases of traditional media outlets, and any partisan Democrat has to love any outlet that works the ref as aggressively as they do; it's work as a purely propogandistic website is invaluable. And the crude attacks on MMA for being a George Soros front are little more than recycled bits of anti-Semitic conspiracy theory that were stale when Henry Ford was publishing the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

But sometimes they jump the shark a little with some of their more anally-retentive criticisms, such as this, where they take the media to task for praising Gov. Huckabee's clever "evasion" of a WWJD question at the debate earlier this week. I use scare quotes, because I'm not sure that the new GOP frontrunner's response was an "evasion," since one of the few things known about the historical Jesus is that he did not pursue worldly power. The ways of Caesar, after all, are different than the ways of God. Hidden beneath Huckabee's answer is an admission that Christ would not support the death penalty, and that as a political leader, the governor cannot always follow strict Christian theology. Liberals, of all people, should celebrate the nuance of his answer, since it indicates that if, heaven forbid, he should win next year, we won't have another Christianist conservative in the White House.

But even assuming that it was an "evasion," so what? Debate questions aren't meant to be answered with a series of detailed policy positions. They're part of a ritual, an elaborate dance by which the voter can see if a candidate can think on this feet and not merely explain any unpopular positions he might have, but win voters over to his side. "Evasion" is the whole point; if Michael Dukakis had responded emotively to the question about the death penalty in the second debate with Bush rather than actually answering the question, he might have won the 1988 race. Since Media Matters is not going to post any diatribes in the event Clinton, Obama, or any other Democrat successfully avoid giving answers in the real debates next fall, it just looks petty for them to do so here.


Anonymous said...

You're not a little bit concerned that a billionaire can buy and individually control a major media outlet like this?


Steve Smith said...

Billionaires buy and control major media outlets all the time. I made my peace with that a long time ago.