Nostalgic Rumblings
The Ramblings of an Old Man

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September 2009
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David Broder is Uncharacteristically Dead Wrong

Filed under: General, News — Charlie Summers @ 7:22 pm

David Broder of The Washington Post is one of the newsmen I respect the most; I look forward to his weekly visits to The Bob Edwards Show, and consider it a required weekly political briefing. Ok, I’d rather it were still on Monday mornings preparing me for the week ahead instead of Fridays when everyone else is reviewing the week, but this is absolutely required listening for me.

However this morning on the show, Mr. Broder was flat-out wrong, and I simply cannot silently let it go. When discussing Gov. Deval Patrick’s interim appointment of Paul G. Kirk Jr. to the late Sen. Edward Kennedy’s Senate seat, he mentioned Kirk’s role as one of the leaders of the Commission on Presidential Debates, praising the Commission and Kirk for holding those debates, saying the Commission, “works.”

I suppose it works just fine if you’re a major-party presidential candidate. It works even better if you are a leader of one of the two main political parties, since the Commission controls the debates exclusively for those parties. If you’re an American citizen, however, the Commission doesn’t “work” at all for you, since its sole purpose for existence is to exclude anyone who is not a candidate for one of the two main political parties and to, in effect, hijack one of the most important arenas used by the American people to determine their vote. Indeed, according to a contemporary story in the New York Times from February 19, 1987 covering the announcement of the commission’s creation, the lauded now-Senator Kirk, “…was less equivocal, saying he personally believed the panel should exclude third-party candidates from the debates.” How exactly can that attitude “work” for the American people?

I have maintained for decades that the major news organizations should boycott these “debates,” not participate in them as usually-respected newspeople like Jim Lehrer and Gwen Ifill have, relegating their airing to Animal Planet and HGTV. The major news organizations should instead align themselves with a non-partisan group (possibly The League of Women Voters, but there are other equally-non-partisan groups available) and hold their own independent debate, ignoring completely the choreographed “debates” provided by the Commission. I know, the candidates always make demands as conditions of their participation, but you can call Ted Koppel and ask him how to handle that - he held his own “debate” on Nightline back in 1988 and invited both George H. W. Bush and Michael Dukakis. When Vice President Bush declined to accept, Gov. Dukakis received all the time…this, it seems to me, is enough guarantee for complete participation. And you can be certain any legitimate third-party candidate would gleefully appear, doubly-so if the major candidates chose not to do so. What if no one shows up, you ask? Run two hours of news stories from the campaign trail, with the image of empty podiums in one corner to remind the American public that the candidates don’t have the guts to engage in a legitimate, non-party-controlled debate.

I’m only sorry that one of my favorite newsmen, David Broder, “drank the Kool-Aid” on this one and actually believes this bogus commission serves anyone’s interest other than the political parties that exert their iron-fisted control over this important process. I usually soak in everything this newsman has to say, but he’s dead wrong on this one.

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Mary Travers Of Peter, Paul and Mary Dies

Filed under: News — Charlie Summers @ 10:15 pm

From the New York Times: Mary Travers Of Peter, Paul and Mary Dies.


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