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“It is a blatant conflict of interest,” Bay Buchanan said on CNN last night. “There’s no question about that.”
“She’s tough as nails right down the middle,” Paul Begala said in reply. “She is a very fair, tough-minded journalist.
They were talking about Gwen Ifill, moderator of tonight’s Joe Biden–Sarah Palin debate and author of the forthcoming book titled The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama. If Ifill is an ardent Democrat she’s done a good job of hiding her zeal all these years, and it’s hard to imagine that she’ll be secretly taking sides during the debate. But while G.O.P. operatives and surrogates are hyping the Ifill story wildly out of proportion–“A debate ‘moderator’ in the tank for Obama,” writes a breathless Michelle Malkin–I can see why rank-and-file Republicans don’t like it.
Certainly if tonight’s debate moderator had written a book that prominently featured McCain, Obama’s surrogates would be emitting howls of outrage. And Republicans, of course, would be dismissing the matter as a tempest in a teapot; Begala and Buchanan would have swapped talking points, verbatim.
This is what makes it so hard to watch or read anything about the campaign. There are some real differences between the candidates (check out their tax plans), in how they’re running their campaigns, and in what a victory by one or the other means for the country. But the commentary and punditry has little to do with substantive matters. Instead, liberals who once upon a time tolerated or even admired McCain now ascribe evil to his every act, while the right hysterically portrays Obama as a combination of Karl Marx and Huey Newton. It’s rarely necessary to read past the headlines–or the headlines for that matter.
More from Ken Silverstein:
Perspective — October 23, 2013, 8:00 am
How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy
Postcard — October 16, 2013, 8:00 am
A trip to one of the properties at issue in Louisiana’s oil-pollution lawsuits
I recently spent a semester teaching writing at an elite liberal-arts college. At strategic points around the campus, in shades of yellow and green, banners displayed the following pair of texts. The first was attributed to the college’s founder, which dates it to the 1920s. The second was extracted from the latest version of the institution’s mission statement:
The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.
Let us take a moment to compare these texts. The first thing to observe about the older one is that it is a sentence. It expresses an idea by placing concepts in relation to one another within the kind of structure that we call a syntax. It is, moreover, highly wrought: a parallel structure underscored by repetition, five adverbs balanced two against three.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A naked man believed to be under the influence of LSD rammed his pickup truck into two police cars.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”