The ABC Debate: An Opportunity?

As it happens, the two Pennsylvania voters I had visiting and I missed the debate last night. Thankfully. Though I’ve watched most of it at NYT. And I agree with the general consensus that the debate marks a low point in American journalism.

Still, I wonder whether it can’t be turned into a public good.

I’ve argued for a long time that journalists need to clean up their own house, first, before they start demanding new privileges or criticizing bloggers (and see Athenae kicking ass on this today in typically glorious fashion). Yet it is rare that journalists take critical stances of their own. They’d rather turn Judy into a martyr–presumably in hopes it will benefit them, too–than acknowledge Judy’s profound failures and how those failures discredit their profession.

But this time, it seems different. Already a number of mainstream journalists have criticized last night’s performance, most notably Tom Shales.

When Barack Obama met Hillary Clinton for another televised Democratic candidates’ debate last night, it was more than a step forward in the 2008 presidential election. It was another step downward for network news — in particular ABC News, which hosted the debate from Philadelphia and whose usually dependable anchors, Charlie Gibson and George Stephanopoulos, turned in shoddy, despicable performances.

For the first 52 minutes of the two-hour, commercial-crammed show, Gibson and Stephanopoulos dwelled entirely on specious and gossipy trivia that already has been hashed and rehashed, in the hope of getting the candidates to claw at one another over disputes that are no longer news. Some were barely news to begin with.


At the end, Gibson pompously thanked the candidates — or was he really patting himself on the back? — for "what I think has been a fascinating debate." He’s entitled to his opinion, but the most fascinating aspect was waiting to see how low he and Stephanopoulos would go, and then being appalled at the answer.

More generally, this debate seems to be a rorschach test for journalistic responsibility. Howie Kurtz and David Brooks were delighted with the debate. Greg Mitchell and Will Bunch were appalled. Walter Shapiro judges the debate failed both on democratic terms and on bad spin terms. While most of these journalists qualify as media critics (thus, it’s not surprising they’re commenting on the debate), it does present an opportunity to ask other journalists what they thought of the debate, to force them to take a stand on the role of journalists in the presidential campaign.

Done well, this would be an opportunity to shame journalists into avoiding the kind of spectacle we saw last night. Done well, we could use this opportunity to get journalists to forswear the kind of crappy coverage ABC offered last night. After all, if we have the opportunity to compete with John McCain on the issues, we’ll kick his butt. But if we’re forced to continue sniffing Hillary’s or Obama’s underwear drawer rather than talking about how they differ from Bush and his buddy McCain, it’ll be a long six months until the election.

Update: Changed then to than per Frank Probst

70 replies
  1. GeorgeSimian says:

    Why won’t anyone in the media ask any of the candidates if they will investigate Bush and Co once they are elected, and once they have access to “classified” information? Or even, will they help current Congressional investigations? Anything.

    • Redshift says:

      Will Bunch did ask Obama, and basically got a “yes.” It was more carefully couched than a lot of us would probably like, but it was a real answer.

  2. AlbertFall says:

    At TPM, they note that this debate was the highest rated, so we should expect more, not less, triviality.

    The candidates themselves will have to reclaim meaning from the debates, by reframing the questions or challenging the premises underlying them.

    For example, on the flag pin “issue” I would love to hear a candidate answer,

    “If you are telling me you think I am more patriotic if I wear a flag pin, then you are telling me, ‘Please treat me like I am stupid, the way the Republicans do.’ And if your vote can be bought for a flag pin, then the Republicans are right to treat you like you are stupid–but I want to think Americans are better than that.”

    • brendanx says:

      You are right. In other words, we should assume ABC will confuse correlation and cause.

      It was highest rated because of the competitiveness of the primary race, not because of the insidious insipidness of the questions.

    • bobschacht says:

      “At TPM, they note that this debate was the highest rated, so we should expect more, not less, triviality.”

      Oh, please! Say it ain’t so! But I think we may need to parse out a bit more of what was meant by “highest rated.” Was the polling done before or after the debate? Most anticipated? Most eagerly awaited? If after the debate, is the rating indicative of level of interest, or of actual quality assessment?

      I suppose if you did a similar rating right after one of the Roman circuses, they might have been highly rated. There might have been a demand for more sacrifices of more Christians.

      Let’s beware the gods of pandering.

      Bob in HI

  3. scribe says:

    From my comment over on the main FDL thread:

    They say Philadelphia sports fans are the toughest in the country (I know – a lot of other cities will stake their claims, but let my premise stand). After all, they’ve gone so far as to boo Santa Claus at a football game. The thing is, there is a fine art to booing, and a lot of science to it, too. Basic rules:

    1. You boo because you care.

    2. The true fan (Philly being a fan’s purgatory of sorts, given the teams’ signal lack of ultimate championship success) has three obligations:
    – First, to show up.
    – Second, the cheer when applicable.
    – Third, to boo when applicable.

    Obligations two and three contain within them the inherent obligation to understand the game and rules.

    Depending on the team, season, and general situation, the Obligations two and three may find their positions reversed.

    Brooks and The Delighted, understand neither the game, nor the Rules. OR, at least, the actual rules of what healthy journalism and healthy politics are supposed to be, choosing instead to dwell in their own diseased fever swamp of getting their respective hind teats suckled, and doing likewise to the other denizens of that swamp.

    The audience, being Philadelphia types (or Pennsylvanians – there’s no real distinction drawn at City Line Avenue when it comes to brooking bullsh*t), was not about to put up with it.
    3. A participant who is giving his/her all in the effort, yet coming up short, gets more credit (and, proportionately, less booing and more cheering) than the gifted participant who is more or less mailing it in. This applies even if the gifted participant is leading the league in whatever major stat he/she might be leading the league in. Thus, for example, it can be perfectly acceptable to boo the Phillies’ player who is the home run champion of the National League, if he isn’t putting his all into the effort (but is instead swinging for the fences when the situtation calls for him to just get a single).

    Charlie, Little Georgie? Taking Hannity’s dictation is “mailing it in”. And you were surprised by the crowd’s reaction? I am too – you’re still walking around today. That surprises me.

    4. Umpires, officials and planned sideshows always get booed. No reason is needed. If the call was bad and against the home team, the vehemence is increased.

    Charlie? Little Georgie? You and your fellow denizens of The Village are not umpires. You’re courtiers. Keep it straight. You have no authority, but are merely a planned sideshow. You get booed.

    5. The cops always get booed when they haul off the drunk guy who doesn’t belong on the field. (Not applicable here)

    I have nothing but praise for the people in Philadelphia who booed Gibson and Little Georgie. They were living up to the true code of Philadelphia and were a credit to the city. I wish I’d had the chance to join them, but I had to walk the dog.

    • Phoenix Woman says:

      Hell, the Philly audience was the best part of the entire thing. If I’d been there I’d be going home in my stocking feet because I would have thrown my shoes at Gibson and Stephanopoulos.

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      Brilliant, scribe.

      WmOckham @9:

      Joe Klein thought it was a lousy debate, but his analysis is just awful:
      … Stephanopoulos and Gibson … asked trivial questions because this has become a trivial campaign–mostly because Clinton and Obama have nearly identical positions on most issues.

      A trivial campaign, eh?
      Nothing to talk about, after all.
      Honestly, global warming is just so… boooring.
      And that Bear Stearns bailed out at the tune of $32 b-b-billion (by taxpayers who work at McDonald’s and Wal-Mart for minimum wage, have no health insurance, and can’t afford to go to a dentist) is just such a yawwwwn…
      Evidently, only a pathetic putz like myself would think that the rape and pillage of federal lands, entire river systems, and national forest under Bu$hCheney is not merely ‘trivial’.
      And please forgive me for wanting to hear what any presidential candidate might think about the nation spending $14.1 million per hour in Iraq.

      Presumably, since Hilary and Obama have ‘identical positions on ALL ‘the’ issues’ (presumably all the TRIVIAL issues), we can all safely assume that they would each:
      – hire precisely the same people on their staffs,
      – have identical Cabinet members,
      – bring identical set of managerial experience to the presidency.

      So, clearly, NOTHING of interest to ask the Democratic candidates for president.

      BillE @ 14, I think you’re on to something.
      Howard Dean could almost certainly manage to pull a few mayors and governors together and host a Dem debate entirely online.

      If the press is so ‘bored’ with it all, because it’s so ‘trivial’, then let the people who actually have to deal with the legal, financial, and economic impacts of federal stupidity pose some questions to our candidates for federal office.
      I’m reasonably certain that anyone watching would find it riveting, if only because mayors and governors tend to be pretty passionate about certain federal policies, and that would surely come across in online video.

        • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

          You’re just jealous of our Safeco Field sushi.
          (Actually, the sushi is even better at Uwajimaya’s next door, before the game, but Safeco Field does a decent job of it, too ;-))

          Y’all enjoy your hot dogs.
          We’ll keep Ichiro and our sushi stands!

      • scribe says:

        Actually, ROTL, the Rules For Booing came from driving through the Philly area while listening to their Sports-talk station, some rainy afternoon with no games going on. In the hour I was in range, the callers and host worked their way from the host naming a player and then polling callers “‘Boo’ or ‘Cheer’”, into a graduate seminar on the Theory and Practice of Booing. Presented by Jimmy from The Northeast, Billy from South Philadelphia, Mack from Olney and a couple other guys with Philly accents so thick you could spread them like peanut butter.

        Of course, when one is in Philly, learning when and how to Boo is like learning to hail a cab or ride a subway is to a Manhattanite.

  4. al75 says:

    I’m a little troubled by the notion that response to the debate was a “Rorschach Test” – particularly because this may be true.

    I’m troubled because a Rorschach test is by design a meaningless random pattern to which one attributes meaning in a self-revealing fashion. My objection to the “debate” was its triviality and pseudo-meaning, and the avoidance of serious content while Chuck Gibson played Judge Judy.

    The “truth” of the statement is this: the powers that be, which backed W., and which will back HRC depend on an inherently meaningless political process, in which “gotcha” one-liners rule.

    Obama’s difference is evident in the seriousness with which he speaks. It’s remarkable how his denigrators brand this substantive, inspiring language as “rhetoric” and those moved by it as “brainwashed”: now, THAT’s a Rorschach test in action!

    But please, don’t talk about David Brooks. He’s the guy who declared we’re in a “post-war” political phase as far as Iraq is concerned. He’s a guy with a slot in the back of his head, and AIPAC and Haliburton’s dimes where his brain should be. He’s a product of the same thinking that led Andy Card to famously diss Bush opponents as “the reality-based community”.

    Is our shared conviction that political discourse should reflect reality a sign that we’ve been ‘brainwashed’??

    If you answered ‘yes’, that’s your Rorschach response, not mine!

  5. klynn says:

    I think part of “why” this debate had such “high” ratings was that IT was ABC. You know, the only major news source to “scoop” the Bush admission on the torture memo?v

    I think many were hoping to watch and have the ABC news team build on “WHAT” that admission by Bush means for our country’s future and what future leaders need to do to preserve our republic in a form that preserves our constitutional rights. ABC had an awesome opportunity to once again “scoop” the national news outlets with groundbreaking dialog during this debate and failed. So I ask, was Charlie compliant to play in a bigger plan in terms of last week’s admission by the President? Is this crappy debate format of “trying to continue to “divide” the party” just another part of a scheme?

    • Minnesotachuck says:

      I think many were hoping to watch and have the ABC news team build on “WHAT” that admission by Bush means for our country’s future and what future leaders need to do to preserve our republic in a form that preserves our constitutional rights.

      Suzanne, commenting on Attaturk’s post this morning at FDL about the debate suggests that last night’s inane performance by Charlie & George was indeed related:

      I wonder if that horrible hit job ABC debate was some attempt by ABC to make nice with the White House after their reporting last week about the WH principals holding torture meetings and even choreographing the torture?

  6. brendanx says:

    I think “shaming journalists” is a futile effort at this point, as they’re just errand boys for megacorporations anyway.

    Better would be one tack Democrats have taken, with FOX news: they don’t debate with them.

    ABC is somewhat salvageable (its news division is the best in some ways), so boycotting them might not be the answer, but is there any way to get it into Democrats’ heads that they might demand some say as to who the moderators are, such as a panel of people with academic credentials on policy issues? The aim is to get better questions, and for that you don’t necessarily need better “journalists”.

      • brendanx says:

        Then there’s the possibility: they did approve enthusiastically of Stephanopolous and Gibson. I can see why Clinton would want this, but Obama seems to be getting an impromptu education about the nature of our media.

        To vet moderators, much less questions, requires a sense of loyalty to the Democratic Party as an institution that Democrats don’t always have (*cough* Clinton *cough*), but at least their boycott of FOX show they do have it sometimes.

  7. WilliamOckham says:

    Joe Klein thought it was a lousy debate, but his analysis is just awful:

    But I think Stephanopoulos and Gibson were doing what journalists do: they picked the most obvious scabs. They asked trivial questions because this has become a trivial campaign–mostly because Clinton and Obama have nearly identical positions on most issues. And there is some value in seeing how Obama–the likely nominee–will handle Republican style attacks in the general election campaign, should they come.

    There is so much wrong with that bit, I barely know where to start. Let’s break down the underlying view. The role of the journalist is to “pick the most obvious scabs”. Now that’s something to aspire to. What he’s really saying is that the audience wants to see some blood and our job is to give it to them. Along with a dose of viewing the candidates as sharks who will go for the kill if they smell blood.

    Next, we have the notion that it is the candidates’ fault that the moderators asked trivial questions. He’s implicitly saying that if candidates would just disagree on something, the moderators would ask them about those things. We all know that that is nonsense on several levels. The moderators chose to ask the question Sean Hannity wanted and the moderators chose to ignore the ABC report about WH torture planning sessions. Whose fault is that?

    Finally, we get the justification for being tools of the VRWC. Klein admits that he thinks the press should do the attack dogs job for them. I find it hard to imagine how he can admit that publically.

    • brendanx says:

      That’s funny. I was curious what those maroons were saying and I picked those exact sentences out for criticism.

      Forget the “scabs” (somewhere in that metaphor Joe Klein is pus). Forget that Klein, as they all do, lacks any notion of agency or accontability.

      The key is the admission you pick up on after that: he admits their role is to give RNC talking points a dry run. And I love the “should they come”: I guess “journalists” should add new attacks to the checklist if the RNC hasn’t already thought of them.

  8. FrankProbst says:

    Anal proofreading comment: “thEn acknowledge” should be “thAn acknowledge”, I think.

    In regards to JudyJudyJudy, I agree with your point that the media should have given her a more critical look to begin with. And I think that the involvement of her and a lot of other journalists in the betrayal of Valerie Plame was a big reason the media never covered the story with any real vigor. But the episode is a very good teaching moment for the media: If you don’t police yourselves, you’re going to look much, much worse when somebody else does it for you. In the case of Judy Miller and the Times, they tried to turn her into a martyr, and they ended up having to fire her once the truth came out. In the end, they looked like idiots, which is exactly what they were.

  9. BillE says:

    The debates should never be on networks that charge for commercials and have moderators that earn 7 figures. The moderators are by definition rethug leaning ( see Jack Welsh and Tweety ) and the networks are all owned by rethuglican’s ( public companies yes, but management is almost exclusively rethug. )

    I would have suggested PBS except for the Bushies have even extended their claws there. Has Greenwald or Boehrlet ever been interviewed on PBS?

    The only solution is an informercial approach where the dems do the whole thing themselves. But who would moderate you ask? And how to avoid charges of being an informercial? Well the moderator is unknown but would presumably be better than the talking heads being run out now. Agains’t the charge of just being an informercial – guilty And be upfront about it.

  10. CityGirl says:

    Ed Schultz interviewed ABC’s Jake Tapper a little while ago, and Jakie closed ranks. He said the moderators may have been a little tougher on Obama and it’s the Obama supporters who are unhappy about the debate.

    • klynn says:

      …He said the moderators may have been a little tougher on Obama and it’s the Obama supporters who are unhappy about the debate.

      That is not true. Many Dems from both sides are disgusted. Is this ABC’s “part two” on divide the party meme? That is akin to the elementary school bully yelling to the kid he punched in the nose, “You’re such a baby.” Not once admitting to his bullying tactics.

      Come on, this is not being “hard” on Obama. This is failing to serve the country’s best interest by failing to take the opportunity of staying on the issues we face at such a critical time in history.

      Own up to your failures on this debate ABC. Just because you scoop a story on the President does not give you overnight validation of being THE NEWS TEAM to trust to pick our next president via smear. We should be better than THAT as a nation.

    • Redshift says:

      Yeah, what a cop-out. We’re not upset about the candidates being asked tough questions (these so-called journalists have amply proven over the past seven years that they wouldn’t know a tough question if it bit them in the ass), it’s that they were asked stupid questions.

      When watching Wolfson try to tell Olbermann afterwards that the American people really want to know about things like Ayers, I would have loved to have him (as well as Gibson and Steph) be asked “what possible bearing does this have on how the president might do his job, and if it doesn’t, aren’t you ashamed for flogging it?”

  11. klynn says:……erica.html

    I had posted this link in the previous thread early this AM. Here’s a gem from that…

    What is it about Philadelphia? The city last month hosted one of the most impressive moments of the presidential campaign to date: Barack Obama’s forthright speech on race. But last night, the very same venue – the National Constitution Centre – witnessed one of the worst events: the dismal ABC News debate between the Democratic candidates.

    The contrast could hardly have been starker. Obama’s March 18 speech was sophisticated, honest and, above all, respectful of the intelligence of his audience. Last night’s debate – or, more specifically, the performance of its moderators, Charles Gibson and George Stephanopoulos – was by turns superficial and disingenuous.

    The trouble started early. Gibson began with an utterly fatuous inquiry about whether each candidate would pledge to ask the other to be their vice-presidential nominee if they won, and agree to accept the veep slot if they lost. Tired questions about the Jeremiah Wright affair and Obama’s remarks regarding voters in Midwestern states who “cling” to religion and social issues followed.

    About half the time set aside for the debate had elapsed – and seven flimsy or already-exhausted issues had been raised – before the first serious question of the night, about troop withdrawals from Iraq, was asked.

    The relentless triviality was only one problem, however. The more serious failing was the willingness of Gibson and Stephanopoulos to volunteer as water-carriers for a conservative attack machine that, fearful of Obama’s crossover appeal, is already working overtime to tarnish his reputation.

    • Gnome de Plume says:

      Got it. I had wondered. I used to work for a guy whose family gave up on the rest of the old country name and just went by Poulos. I think that is the “pool boy” part.

  12. brendanx says:

    More generally, this debate seems to be a rorshach test for journalistic responsibility. Howie Kurtz and David Brooks were delighted with the debate. Greg Mitchell and Will Bunch were appalled. Walter Shapiro judges the debate failed both on democratic terms and on bad spin terms.

    It’s also just a simple test of partisanship.

  13. bmaz says:

    Holy crap! I just turned on the telly, and there is a joint news conference with Brit PM Brown and Boosh. The difference between the IQ, speaking ability, seriousness on the issues – everything – is shockingly stark, even for me. It is humiliating knowing which one is ours…. If you are able, tune this in. Really bad.

  14. Ishmael says:

    The establishment media approach is a kind of Gresham’s Law applied to information – bad information will drive good information out of circulation. I just don’t see last night being some kind of Schiavo moment when the public decides it has gone too far – even when there are substantive questions asked of candidates, Republicans are allowed to blather on stupidly without follow-up, so it is not just a question of focussing on bowling or haircuts or cheesesteak preference. The most appalling thing about Brooks this morning “….whether we like it or not…”, according to Brooks, the campaign will be driven by these types of questions – to which all should cry with one voice, “WHY???”. I can see why the Republicans don’t want to mention the war, the economy, the environment, torture, incompetence, doubling the national debt and any of Hugh’s 500 Scandals – I can’t really understand why the Democrats have chosen to debase the coinage of national discourse, to continue with the Gresham’s analogy.

  15. BayStateLibrul says:

    Please make it stop.
    I missed the entire debate, and only read the post-mortems.
    Thank you MLB.

      • scribe says:

        THe Julio Lugo trade watch began the minute the Red Sox signed him in lieu of whomever it was they dumped (Renteria?, Pokey Reese?, Nomahhhh?) during the off-season.

        As to Renteria, he changes teams about as often as I change shirts. One onders why that is, for someone of his gifts….

        Not for nothing, WS Champion teams which dump their shortstops, usually don’t repeat…..

        • Ishmael says:

          Trading Nomahhhh to the Cubs for Cabrera was one of Theo’s best moves – Cabrera is a good field, good hit shortstop, and would be better than any of the others they have tried since missing out on A-Rod (who is a hell of a lot better shortstop than Derek Jeter, the worst 20 million shortstop in history).

        • Ishmael says:

          You’ll recall that it was an Ortiz jersey that was exhumed from the new Yankee Stadium, there must be a connection to his woes – now that they are going to auction it off for charity, I’m sure Papi will go back to hitting clutch grand slams every few days!

        • BayStateLibrul says:

          Yeah, and I wish Renteria would tuck in his shirt..
          The trade in waiting may be Coco Crispy….

  16. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Gibson’s performance prohibited viewers from learning more about the two Democratic contenders for their vote. Perhaps that was ABC’s real goal. His stage management certainly prevented viewers from learning more about what each candidate would do once in office, what policies they might advocate to tackle real issues facing Main Street America. Prohibited them from using the broadcast to tell voters what their priorities are, what they would cost, and what trade-offs they might make to pay for them. That, too, may have been ABC/Fox Noise’s goal (I can no longer tell which is which.)

    That framing certainly works to McSame’s advantage, since he either won’t know what he wants to do until one of his scores of lobbyists tells him tells him, or he sure as hell won’t tell us because then we wouldn’t vote for him.

    But what Gibson’s performance put in sharp relief is that his performance Wednesday was exactly the way he covers ALL the news ABC/Fox deems fit to broadcast.

    That should be as troublesome as Gibson’s adolescent questioning of two serious candidates for the most important job in America.

  17. bmaz says:

    Well, I am trying out my new dictation software. I hope it works well. As two shortstops, I think you both Sox fans ought to be moral concern about the loss of Curt Schilling; since you have never won anything without him. Hey! This thing works pretty freaking well.

    • Ishmael says:

      Just enjoy the D’backs while you can, until the Sox sweep them in the Series, and stop all the “shilling” for Curt!

      • bmaz says:

        Oops, dictation software thinks “heh heh” is “headache bed”! Not good; I must train it for that I guess. As to the Shill, he is really kind of an ass, and I don’t like him that much; but nevertheless, he was the glue behind the championships of both the Dbacks and the Sawx.

    • BayStateLibrul says:

      You remember we traded Hanley Ramirez, the number #1 SS, but we got
      Becket… so I can’t complain…
      As for the Schill, well, I’m speechless…

      • Ishmael says:

        We’ll get Hanley back in Fenway at the next Florida firesale! After he wins an MVP or two in Miami.

  18. bmaz says:

    Safeco is way cool, saw it and Qwest last summer while I was there. Our ballyard is fantastic inside, (who else has a swimming pool in centerfield?) but is awfully bland on the outside. Don’t go getting ahead of yourself up there though, we have a beautiful arena and still have a basketball team!

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      Well, since I’m not a big hoops fan, I’ll let that nasty comment slide.
      However, it’s a topic that I simply don’t raise with several long-time Sonics fans that I know.

      (Actually, there’s a political story there as well… well lots of them, but the one that interests me is that Seattle lost the Sonics in large part because the city wouldn’t front the $$ for a new arena. It’s a sign of the times. The city finally said, “Hello?!! You think we have so much fricking money rolling around our budgets that we can front you a brand new basketball arena?! What planet are you from?!!
      In the past, building these massive structures at mostly public expense, so that the super-wealthy owners can further enrich their egos and their bank accounts was something that city councils did without too much fuss.

      There are, however, holdover ill feelings about both Safeco Field and Qwest/Seahawks stadium. Both the taxpayers were asked to pay for, after saying they did’nt want to. In the case of the Seahawks, Paul Allen had purchased the team in part as a civic duty, but many people are/were still p*ssed at having to pay for that stadium.
      However, Paul Allen is the one team owner who will always get a ‘fair pass’ from me (he co-founded MS with Bill Gates, and Allen’s dad was the head of Univ of Wa libraries for many years). Paul Allen has given so much to education and other charitable (environmental) foundations that he can get as rich as he pleases for all I care.

      The Allen Foundation also helped fund this recent kickoff event:

      Well… there went MY lunch break (!)

    • bmaz says:

      Was not trying to be nasty; actually I am pretty sad about the whole deal. The Sonics belong in Seattle. We had some massive battles with the Sonics back in the early 90s, and I went to one of the playoff games up there. The fans were great and loved their team. I understand the public/private angst on stadium construction; we have had those battles here big time. The deal is to make only a portion of it public backed and get it paid back quickly. Some public involvement is fine though (contrary to what many think) because the tax revenues and benefits really do add up. Nobody here has said a word about the financing deal on the Cardinal’s stadium since the financial whirlwind of the SuperBowl spread it’s wealth around town. Same at the ballyard after the World Series in 2001. All of our venues have paid off handsomely despite their massive cost.

      • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

        ** OT Warning! **

        Thx for your kind words about Safeco Field. And I know the rationale for building stadiums has always been that they bring in more revenue than they cost, but that’s not always proven to be the case; much rests on the ticket sales, performance of the team, etc….

        Due to rapid population growth, plus aging outdated facilities in this region, we have too many urgent needs that are more important than a basketball stadium. Nevertheless, I understand that a group of ‘investors’ has been quietly making inroads with state legislators to make an end-run around citizen opposition.

        Part of the citizen opposition is resentment and frustration with huge infrastructure backlogs — especially for transportation (as you no doubt observed!). Also, as the cost of pro ticket sales have climbed out of reach for more and more people, it’s just harder to get public support to spend money for stadium where families can’t (or won’t) afford to attend games. Like other pro sports, they all seem to claim that ‘corporate ticket sales’ will solve this problem.

        The number of ‘corporate seats’ in all stadiums has increased, and Safeco was designed with corporate seating in mind. That’s helped it financially, in addition to the long baseball season (which makes it more profitable for vendors and restaurants).

        Believe it or not, the energy required to move that roof on Safeco field is almost absurdly small; about the same as turning on a lightbulb, IIRC — which is a huge consideration over the life cycle of the building. (I got a tour and got to see it move; it’s amazing how well that sliding roof works, and how little electricity is required to move so much weight.)

        Safeco Field is not a state building, but FWIW, I’ll note that any building constructed by Washington State must now meet newly raised energy and environmental environmental standards over the life cycle of the building. That is making for some really interesting, energy efficient, new construction.

        Just think what opportunities the federal government is missing (!).
        There’s some really wonderful architectural design being driven by the new state energy requirements, and it seems to be giving several local firms an advantage in contracting for work outside the U.S.

  19. kraftysue says:

    Off topic………..
    Had a thought which now turns into a question. What happens legally if a candidate dies between the convention and the election? Who becomes the candidate?

    Not wishing this, but considering McSame’s age, it could happen.

  20. WilliamOckham says:

    Over at TPM Election Central, Greg Sargent interviews George Stephanopoulos about the debate. His justification for the debate is that it was all about “electability” and that is at the forefront of voters minds. I guess it has never crossed his mind that electability might mean more than responding to manufactured controversies. Never mind that there’s no evidence that that crap matters to most voters.

    The most amazing comment is this one:

    “If you look at the fall campaign, there are some clear signals from Senator Obama’s opponents that all of these issues are going to be put together in a general argument. They all go back to that same theme.”


    I’ll ask any questions Sean Hannity tells me to ask.

    • PetePierce says:

      Absolutely true.

      Stephanopolis=Blond Barbies and Kens at Fox Noise. George wouldn’t know what is at the front of the voters’ minds if it bit him in the ass. Stephie misquoted the NIE and doesn’t know it to this moment, and sunk to a new low as an errand boy for Right Wing media as Hannity and Krautheimer fed him questions.

  21. rkilowatt says:

    Earlofhuntington @ 39
    “That, too, may have been ABC/Fox Noise’s goal (I can no longer tell which is which.) “

    Ummm, plagiarizing ending of Orwell’s “Animal Farm” ?

  22. Neil says:

    Obama questioner explains why she finds him annoying
    By Margaret Talev | McClatchy Newspapers 4/17

    WASHINGTON — Nash McCabe is the voter from Wednesday night’s presidential debate who noted that Barack Obama doesn’t usually wear a flag pin and asked, “I want to know if you believe in the American flag.”

    ABC, which hosted the debate, had tracked her down after she was quoted in a New York Times story about white voters in small-town Latrobe, Pa., revealing her as 52, out of work and against Obama.

  23. klynn says:


    It might have been nice for Bush to discuss a global plan regarding food shortages yesterday…

    Haiti, Mongolia…

    This is serious, there better be something ASAP…

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