Are you inexperienced?
I’ve been showing my students a video on the history of presidential debates that Chris Matthews and Tom Brokaw did in 2004 before the Bush-Kerry debates. It’s a fun retrospective of the memorable moments from all the presidential and vice-presidential debates up to then. I was just listening to Matthews and Quayle rehash the Dan Quayle-Lloyd Bentsen debate. Brokaw pointed out that Brit Hume twice asked Quayle a question about what he’d do if he succeeded to the office. Then Brokaw said that he felt that Quayle hadn’t really answered the question the first two times and so he asked it again. And it was that third time that led Quayle to point out that he had had the same number of years in Congress that John F. Kennedy had had by 1960. And then Lloyd Bentsen unleashed his devastating riposte that he “knew John Kennedy and you’re no John Kennedy.”
Of course, Bentsen didn’t really know JFK, but he knew that the pre-Blogosphere mass media would happily cover for him. More from Betsy Newmark:
I was just wondering what the chances are that any reporter this year would, in the presidential debates, would ask Barack Obama three times a question about whether he was prepared after three and a half years in the Senate to be president. After all Quayle had had four years in the House and eight years in the Senate in 1988 and people considered him unprepared to be vice president. Yet, Obama with his unremarkable record in the Senate, half of which he’s spent on the road campaigning, is not getting that question over and over. And Charlie Gibson isn’t asking Obama if he didn’t have a moment of pause wondering if he was really ready to be president before he decided to run.
Funny how standards change back and forth, isn’t it?