Sunday, November 18, 2007

Blitzer Plays Gotcha

I hate it when CNN repeats yesterday's news as though it just happened - they do that especially on weekends, not breaking news, of course, but still. Yet his weekend I was glad that the hour usually devoted to the ravings of Lou Dobbs ran large excerpts from the Democratic debate that took place the other night in Nevada, with Wolf Blitzer presiding. I think both Wolf and Musharraf need to go.

So used to treating interviews and news as spectacles, Blitzer had obviously very deliberately prepared a series of either/or questions, thus abetting the disunity that cries out for repair in the country, Several times, Obama, Edwards and Kucinic stood up to his stubborn insistence that they accept his dictates.

Blitzer was trying to play gotcha, asking the candidates to answer yes or no about drivers’ licenses for illegal immigrants, merit pay for teachers (which the unions oppose), and targeted Kucinich with a question reminiscent of McCarthyism: “Is there anything the unions are for that you disagree with?” Kucinic didn’t lose his cool, and enumerated all the things he agrees with, starting from the fact that unions are crucial, and ending with something the unions wanted, (I don’t remember what it was) and which he most firmly disagreed with, adding “L’m no patsy.”

Others played Blitzer’s game, like Chris Dodd who sermonized that we needed unity, intimating that Obama, Edwards and by inference Kucinich, were trying to foment class war (the dirtiest word in the Democratic vocabulary). But if all he candidates were on the same page we could just pick straws to see who would be the nominee.

In other news tonight, the OPEC leaders met in an incandescently lit, humoungus - what to call it - a hall, a meeting room, there’s no word for it unless it’s oversize Arabian tent lit with huge gazillion kilowatt chandeliers - to discuss whether to ensure to the West that all of them hate a dependable supply of oil at affordable prices. No fools, they know their economies would collapse of ours did. Only the President of Ecuador, speaking also for Chavez, suggested OPEC levy a tax on consumption to further efforts to halt climate change. As with its attitude toward women, the oil monarchies didn’t get it.

This bring us back to Wolf Blaster, as Craig Eisendrath recently christened him in an original adn very successful interactive play about the nuclear danger. Like a child demanding his reward for eating his carrots (sic), Blitzer demanded the candidates tell him whether they considered human rights more important than security, and since the major players wouldn’t let him have his simplistic way he came back to the charge with “Security or democracy? Which is more important?” The palm for snidenss goes to Biden, who at one point quipped: “I know we’re not supposed to answer the question.”

Echoing the irony of the garishly lit conference not discussing climate change, the faithful elephant-in-the-room, John Negroponte, spent the weekend telling the dictator of the week, Musharraf, that he must consider democracy more important than security, because he is the one we trust to keep a firm military grip on Pakistan’s nukes - millitary which we hope against hope will finish off the Taliban on the border with Afghanistan. Meanwhile, we want him to let Benazir Bhutto run in “free and fair elections” to be prime minister, because she is a westernized figure, but we do not demand that he reinstate the supreme court judges he removed.

The ultimate irony is that all this is in fact about class war, and equity. If the world would only stand still for a day or two, I could write about that.

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