Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The South Carolina debate and Latin America

Boz has the excerpt from the Democrats’ debate about whether they would be willing to meet with foreign leaders like Hugo Chávez, Fidel Castro, and Kim Jong Il. He concludes that the candidates’ answers really weren’t very different, and I agree.

There is some effort, though, to give this non-story some traction, most likely because these debates have been so dull that the media is looking for any morsel that might divide the favorites. So, for example, this quote from the Miami Herald:

CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin said, ``Obama looked inexperienced and naive...It was a very big win for (Clinton) on that question.''

The Clinton camp jumped on that:

While the differences in the two answers were not revisited during the remainder of the debate, Clinton’s campaign distributed a memo to members of the press Tuesday morning, asserting, “There is a clear difference between the two approaches these candidates are taking: Senator Obama has committed to presidential-level meetings with some of the world’s worst dictators without precondition during his first year in office.”

There are multiple problems with these arguments. First, it is ridiculous hair splitting because their answers were very, very similar—Obama just didn’t make clear whether he meant a “presidential” meeting or a meeting of envoys.

Second, we can debate about Hugo Chávez’s policies and their effects, but he won a free and fair election by a very wide margin, so should not be lumped together with the “world’s worst dictators.” Why in the world shouldn’t a president talk to him?

Third, even if Obama did mean a presidential-level meeting, I don’t see it as naïve, and certainly not some sort of “very big win” for Clinton. One could come up with perfectly good arguments for why meeting personally with a perceived enemy could be positive for the U.S.

I also wonder how many voters even care.


Miguel Centellas 1:12 PM  

Yes, I find the whole media fracass rather ridiculous as of late. No wonder people are tuning out and getting more news from The Daily Show these days.

Did you see the recent study that showd that TDS and "regular" media are almost identical, content-wise? Here's a brief blurb from the IU website:

Greg Weeks 1:48 PM  

A debate on TDS would likely be more substantive than what we've seen.

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