Jonathan [here comes a link] Bernstein at Salon asserts that Fox News cost Mitt Romney the second debate because (the short version) it prefers scandal to ideas and because it forces itself, and thus Mitt, to think in terms of blunt, over-simplistic statements, such as “It’s bad to apologize for anything the U.S. does.
I’d push things further and claim that Fox-News thinking, as well as media-thinking in general costs us citizens the opportunity to hear two men (in this case) discuss what doesn’t get discussed in these “debates.” In pushing further, I’m returning to a previous post about what we don’t talk about when we talk about politics. This time, my list would include . . .
1. Our massive defense-budget, which is, as even Allen Simpson notes, bigger than the defense-budgets-combined of the rest of the world, including (by definition) the budgets of China, Russia, and the EU. I’m not an economist, but I don’t think it takes one to observe that this is an extraordinary headwind into which our federal budget must sail as it tries to take care, as needed, of us. By “take care,” I’m not talking nanny-state here. I’m talking about basic things like medicine, public works projects like U.S. highways, railroads, and electric grids. –Nuts and bolts stuff that small countries like Sweden take care of much better, much more efficiently. Maybe you disagree with my analysis. That’s all right. But wouldn’t you like to hear Romney and Obama and every candidate for the House and Senate discuss this issue? Instead, by default, we have to accept that Romney proposes increasing the budget more than the Joints Chiefs want to, and that Obama will increase it slightly less.
2. Global warming. How amazing that a crucial issue like this is off the table, largely because the GOP “doesn’t believe” in it, as if it were a topic of faith. Thus we know that Romney will say the scientific “jury” is still out (it isn’t) and Obama will tread cautiously because, well, what’s the point? Mitch McConnell will only filibuster any attempts to deal rationally with the problem. How sick and delusional is that? You may have some skeptical questions about global warming and how to deal with it. That’s fine. But wouldn’t you like to hear Romney and Obama discuss it–as opposed to bickering about when, exactly, President Obama characterized on attack as “terror”?
As the spectacle flourishes, we get deprived of discussions that have a chance, at least, of mattering. Whether Obama or Romney are “cost” a debate doesn’t matter to the extent that we pay the cost of not having crucial issues addressed.