Russert and Farrakhan: What Hillary should have said
Against all odds, Daily Kos and TalkLeft reached the same conclusion, about last night's debate: MSNBC is horrendously bad. I don't need to go into all the details. In terms of the horse race, there was little that likely changed the dynamics of the campaign. On that level, Barack Obama won the debate. Hillary Clinton needed a game-changer, and probably didn't get it. But I want to focus on MSNBC, on one question, and how Clinton might have claimed the night. The questions came from the reprehensible Tim Russert. You can click to the transcript, and search for the word "Farrakhan." It goes on from there. And on. And on.
Obama handled it reasonably well, although I would have rhetorically ripped Russert's head off. And that's where I thought Clinton could have possibly revitalized her campaign- by doing exactly that. Instead, she quibbled over semantics, which some thought valid, while others thought it made her look bad; but she definitely lost what was an opportunity for a potentially galvanizing response. This could have been her YouTube moment. With the benefit of having had the time to think about it, here's what she should have said:
Tim, for this entire night, you have been badgering and goading me, attempting to cast me in the worst possible light. That's fine. That's what I've come to expect from you and your embarrassing colleagues. So, I interpret your having asked this question of Senator Obama as an attempt at balance, an attempt to prove you're an equal opportunity merchant of political slime. Shame on you, Tim. You owe Senator Obama and the American people an apology.
Senator Obama is no more responsible for what is or has been said by those who endorse him than you are for what is or has been said by those who watch your broadcasts. Senator Obama has neither endorsed nor embraced the views of Louis Farrakhan. Beyond that, Louis Farrakhan has not been a significant national figure for more than a decade. To trot out old quotes by someone who has nothing to do with Senator Obama or this campaign would be beyond belief, if it didn't so typify the level of discourse to which you and your colleagues so often descend. Shame on you, Tim.
Senator Obama has been on the receiving end of a vicious and vile hate campaign that attempts to exploit and manipulate a presumed racist undercurrent lying latent in the American psyche. Even the adamantly non-partisan Anti-Defamation League has been compelled to publicly condemn those dishonest and disgraceful attacks. For you to now bring those attacks out of the shadows and onto national television is unacceptable and inexcusable. Shame on you, Tim.
The American people are deciding who will be our next president. There's a disastrous war going on. There are terrorists whom the Bush Administration has failed to bring to justice, and who grow stronger because of the Bush Administration's incompetence. This nation is in violation of international laws and basic standards of human decency. The Bush Administration tortures prisoners and spies on innocent Americans. The economy is in serious trouble. People can't afford health care, or to educate their children. More than one in ten Americans lives below the poverty line. And we are completely ignoring the imminent catastrophic environmental disaster that is global warming and climate change. And here we are, with the eyes of the nation upon us, ostensibly discussing and debating what to do about all these crises, but instead of sticking to substance you waste our and the American people's time with a malicious and despicable question to a good man about something he has nothing to do with, and that is irrelevant to this campaign and to the very real problems of this nation and its people. Shame on you, Tim.
Overall, this debate proved that Hillary Clinton has been right, all along. She should have stuck to her guns and boycotted any debates on MSNBC. They are no better than Faux News.