Contraceptives, Stephanopoulos, and What To Do About the Debates
Although no genius, ABC commentator and former Clinton advisor George Stephanopoulos is not stupid. Nevertheless, he seemed like an outright doofus (or yahoo!) as host of the ABC/Yahoo New Hampshire debate on Saturday when he kept pressing Mitt Romney on the constitutionality, of all things, contraceptives.
No, that wasn't an episode of Saturday Night Live or Fawlty Towers. It was a typical mainstream media operative, unable to control his bias, desperately seeking to expose the Republican frontrunner in some manner or to create some kind of gaffe that would damage him for the general election.
Romney, to his credit, treated the gotcha question with the proper amount of amused disdain, allowing Stephanopoulos to dig a yet bigger hole for himself and turning the audience in the candidate's favor.
In this essentially meaningless exchange, Stephanopoulos became the poster boy for the whole debate process in which a long line of Republican candidates have paraded themselves for inspection in front of panel after panel of largely liberal media interlocutors.
Fortunately for the Republicans, those interlocutors haven't been very good at what they do. Part of the reason is that liberal (Keynesian) economics is for all intents and purposes defunct and everybody knows that -- so those liberal journalists don't really have anywhere to go on the key issue of the campaign. Another reason may be that they are not as skilled as we, or they, think they are. A third may be that the Republicans were inflicting sufficient wounds all by themselves.
Still, the entire summa of now fifteen debates has yielded little of substance or depth. We learned that Rick Perry isn't very good at debating (but has gotten somewhat better), that Newt Gingrich is very good at debating (but allows his thin skin to make him worse), that Ron Paul has adamant supporters and doesn't worry about the mullahs (no surprise), that Rick Santorum is socially conservative and does worry about the mullahs (again no surprise) and that Romney makes a relatively unflappable frontrunner (probably a good trait for a president).