Thursday, February 23, 2012

ZAP!

In his book "Below the Beltway" Dave Barry suggests politicians should have an electronic chip implanted in their brains. Whenever they start feeding us (bovine excrement) the chip detects this and sends a high voltage shock to a delicate part of the politician's anatomy.

"I care about farmers."

ZAP

"OK. Fact is farmers represent a minority of my voters. What do I care if you vote for me or not? I actually want corn farmers in Argentina to have a bumper crop so it'll keep food prices down in the supermarkets."

or

"Obama and his liberal cronies want to kill babies!"

ZAAAP

"OK. We're capable of rational thought, and we know that a sane person does not advocate murder. But this is the Real World. Here are your choices: Roe vs. Wade, or thousands of crack babies dying in the slums. Which is the more humane option? When you find the perfect solution to all this, please let me know."

After the February 23rd Republican Debate, I would suggest Barry's shock chip be implanted in media personalities as well. While the nation struggles with trillions in debt, an economy still pulling itself out of the recession tar pit, and Iran rattling sabres and causing a spike in energy prices, John King thought this would be a good time to pull out a social/theological show stopper.

“Since birth control is the latest hot topic, which candidate believes in birth control and if not, why?”

ZAAAAAP

The booing from the audience said it all. Aw, come on, John. Birth control might be the topic of choice within the Roman Catholic church, and that's fine. That's the kind of issue a religious organization is supposed to handle. But this is a debate to decide who will be the commander-in-chief of the United States of America. As I try to sell a house in a sluggish market while banks remain stingy with the mortgage dollars, I really don't give a (rodent's hindquarters) if somebody puts on a condom. America doesn't need to legislate reproduction habits. What America needs is jobs.

When asked about his question after the debate, King said, "...I don’t think it’s out of bounds to ask a presidential candidate about something they said in a presidential campaign.”

Oh, I get it. He was being sardonic... I think. OK. He's got a point there. It's the politicians who drag social and theological non-issues into the political arena in an effort to pander to the reactionary voters in an early rural state primary. King was trying to make a point by hitting the candidates in the face with it. Sort of like asking a local Representative after he says, "We need to get prayer back in our schools," at an event in a local church if "prayer in schools" includes Muslim call to prayers or did he just mean Christians? It's an ugly question, but a fair one in the context of a one-on-one interview.

But a debate is a different animal. There's a live audience, a stage, and commercial breaks. Since none of the ones I've seen follow any set of rules I can associate with honest-to-goodness- debating, some of them feel more like talk shows than actual debates. I keep expecting Paul Shaffer to kick into "Mustang Sally" after each answer. The candidates are in full self-marketing and promotion mode. Yeah, I know... when aren't they? But my point is there are a lot of distractions to take the focus away from somebody's actual question. A reporter at the Capitol can say, "But you didn't answer my question." They rarely get that chance in today's debate formats.

I'm not sure this was the right time or place to be clever. Things like that have a way of backfiring anyway, and the booing was only the first sign that King's question had an unintended effect. Newt took the bait and ran, followed by the others. All King succeeded in was giving the GOP candidates yet another excuse to waste everyone's time crowing about a moral and social problem that is not a political issue, while vilifying the news media that much more.

And if the media's going to ask questions like that in a debate, we deserve it.



UPDATE

It seems Whitney Houston's funeral wasn't all that private after all. Sources claim the service was the most viewed streaming even to date on the web. Perhaps the networks underestimated Houston's appeal when they decided not to provide live coverage to the affiliates.

This says several things to me:

America no longer needs to rely on the traditional broadcast networks to get the content they want.

Assuming Whitney Houston's core audience is adult female African-Americans, it appears that segment of the population is tech savvy and has full access to the Internet.

Whitney Houston just might be bigger than Michael Jackson. Of course, she was on that train wreck of a reality show as recent as 2005, so that would give her an advantage.

Expect a new interest in Black Gospel music.

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