Latest update: November 27th, 2012
We can now fairly assume that both Democrat and Republican analysts concluded that President Obama’s weak performance in the first presidential debate could be attributed to the absence of a teleprompter. The president’s reputation — earned or unearned — as a golden orator cannot be upheld without this prop. So, to level the playing field — as he is fond of saying — he was provided with a flesh and blood teleprompter in the shape of Candy Crowley for the second debate.
It was a Catch 22. If Mitt Romney had pointedly objected to this glaring intervention he would have been seen as the bad sport who shouts at the referee. The same goes for post-debate commentators. You’re not supposed to grumble about the conditions, it makes it look like your guy didn’t hold his own.
From my observation point here in Paris in the middle of the night, the whole setup was skewed. Forgive me if I don’t know the inner workings of the election committee that supposedly ensures a fair fight but I am wondering how in the world they could organize a Town Hall debate composed of 80 undecided voters. Does anyone know how the voters proved they were undecided? Was there a competition to eliminate the less undecided in favor of the truly sincerely undecided? Did they have some kind of test to root out the secretly decided? And how about intelligence? Are the undecided automatically inarticulate or was there another filter that excluded citizens capable of pronouncing a sentence of more than five words containing more than one idea? Why did they all look like props?
I have witnessed dozens of town hall style debates on French television and, trust me, they are never reduced to such first-grade level. When a person intervenes in this kind of discussion, one can perceive something behind the words — call it substance or context or a foundation — that indicates a thought process and life experience that crystallized in a given statement or question. Not so last night. It sounded like a first grade teacher had handed out the questions, matching them up to Johnny, Mary, Alvin, Chris and Rosina on the basis of some silly notion of identity.
Where is this election committee coming from? What is this kindergarten concept of objectivity? Put together eighty people who say they are undecided and all the questions will be equally fair and advantageous to each candidate. Close your eyes and take one moderator from any TV channel — oh my goodness, it’s Candy Crowley from CNN and she’s a woman — and, because she is called the moderator she will moderate.
As if that weren’t enough, Candy Crowley intervened from the very first exchange, like a mother prompting her little boy who forgot his spiel or maybe doesn’t want to brag about his accomplishments. The pattern was set: each candidate would give his answer to the (elementary) question, Candy would call on Barack and throw him some talking points, he would take the cue and do a little performance, and when Mitt Romney tried to do his rebuttal Candy would say that’s enough, let’s go to the next question.
This is a moderator? Why is there only one? If the reality principle had prevailed over the objectivity fallacy there would be two partisan moderators, as well-behaved as the candidates, capable of keeping tabs on each other without getting into a fistfight. A second moderator would have pinned President Obama down on, for example, Fast and Furious. Ms. Crowley let him slip out of it with a homily on good schools and equal opportunity.
Which brings us to Benghazi. First, the question was pathetic. The questioner made a point of saying that it came from a brain trust. How long had these big brains powwowed before coming up with the little bitty question: Is it true that requests for additional security at the Benghazi consulate had been ignored? That’s all the brainies wanted to know? What followed was to democracy what the Benghazi fiasco was to sovereignty. The teleprompter-moderator — who knew the questions in advance — and had apparently reviewed and memorized President Obama’s September 12th Rose Garden talk, intervened to swat down Governor Romney as he looked the president in the eyes and said “You called it an act of terror?”
She grabbed the ball from Obama’s hands and slam dunked it! And the audience applauded. Why in the world did they applaud? I thought they were undecided ergo objective. Why didn’t they emit a collective gasp in horror at Crowley’s totally unacceptable intervention in the debate? Had they too memorized the speech? And forgotten everything said by the president and his men and women since then?
I viewed the video this morning. It prefigures the spin that followed. The incident is called a tragedy not a terror attack. The president criticizes those who denigrate a religion, not those who murder an American ambassador. He pretends that Libyan forces helped, tried to protect, brought the personnel to a safe house, and brought Ambassador Stevens’ body to the hospital where he died. He promises to find out who did it and bring them to justice. In other words, it was a crime not an act of terror. Later, referring to the 9/11 commemoration ceremonies, he claimed that no act of terror against the United States goes unpunished. This was a reference to the elimination of Osama bin Laden. When the president had said what would be his last word before flying off to the fundraiser, a journalist called out: “Was it an act of war?”
But the president wasn’t taking questions.
So it will be up to American voters to answer that one.
Originally published at the American Thinker.
About the Author: Nidra Poller is an associate fellow at the Middle East Forum.
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