Friday, April 27, 2007

I welcome our new corporate overlords

The GE Presidential Debate (what follows is a highly tendentious summary of a liberal-bias review):
MSNBC, owned by weapons-maker General Electric, opened Thursday night's debate with the unavoidable topic of Iraq, and unavoidably allowed each of the eight candidates on the stage to address it. Two of them, Congressman Dennis Kucinich and former Senator Mike Gravel, spoke in favor of ending the war... The other six Democrats on the stage Thursday night... made clear that they oppose serious steps to force a swift end to the war. ...

[GE spokesman Brian] Williams could come up with nothing to accuse Kucinich of. "You were against the war before being anti-war was popular," he said. "Why do you think you don't have more traction?" Kucinich gave an optimistic response on gaining traction. He may very well be right that he is gaining traction. But I wonder if his answer would have been different had this question come at the end of the debate, because Williams answered his own question by proceeding with much of the debate as if Kucinich and Gravel were not on the stage. ...

GE immediately put [Gravel] in his [place], and when he got a chance to speak much later he said he was beginning to feel like a potted plant on stage.

The next series of questions were about domestic policy, and focused largely on divisive issues like abortion. GE skipped Kucinich and Gravel. Then came health care question, which skipped Kucinich and Gravel. ...

GE next asked each Democrat what the worst mistake was they'd ever made. This was not terribly enlightening, except perhaps by comparison to the upcoming Republican debate in which GE will likely ask the candidates what the worst mistakes are that Democrats have ever made. ...

[F]ormer Senator Edwards was asked to criticize oil companies' profiteering and refused. Gravel was skipped. And Kucinich was finally called on, about health care. He was given about 20 seconds but nailed it.

This time around, Kucinich was skipped but Gravel was called on. GE asked him to name three enemies. He replied that it was absurd to think we had any enemies while we spend as much on our military as all other nations combined. "Who are you afraid of, Brian?" he asked the nearest representative of the military industrial complex, which he accused of running not only the government, but also "our culture." ...

Williams asked which candidates supported impeaching Dick Cheney. Kucinich's hand was the only one, or one of the few, raised (again, I couldn't see, but I'm guessing Gravel raised his hand too). ...

Kucinich... raised his hand during Obama's turn to challenge the Illinois Senator on his refusal to oppose nuking Iran. Gravel jumped into the exchange as well. But Obama refused to take the option of aggressively nuking another nation off the table. ...

There were, quite stunningly, no questions about which of the new presidential powers these candidates would use if elected. Would you, as president, spy on your political opponents without court warrants? Would you detain people without charge? Would you use any secret prisons? Would you torture? Would you disobey laws? Which ones? Would you announce your intentions in "signing statements"? Would you engage in any aggressive wars? Would you launch any wars not declared by Congress? Would you ever intentionally mislead Congress? Would you lie to the public about matters as grave as hurricanes, wars, and spying? None of these topics came up.

Plenty of accusations against Democrats did arise. Why, Williams wanted to know, are Democrats labeled as less able to protect us? Well, they aren't in polls, but they are by weapons makers. Williams asked what these candidates would do in response to an event like 9/11, but he didn't ask that simple question. He asked how they would use the military overseas to respond to an attack like 9-11. The candidates who got that question did not challenge its unstated assumptions. Clinton, in particular, sounded exactly like Bush.

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