Washington Babylon — October 2, 2008, 10:32 am

Ifill and Blather

“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.

Share
Single Page

More from Ken Silverstein:

From the November 2013 issue

Dirty South

The foul legacy of Louisiana oil

Perspective October 23, 2013, 8:00 am

On Brining and Dining

How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy

Postcard October 16, 2013, 8:00 am

The Most Cajun Place on Earth

A trip to one of the properties at issue in Louisiana’s oil-pollution lawsuits 

Get access to 164 years of
Harper’s for only $39.99

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

March 2015

A Sage in Harlem

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Man Stopped

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Spy Who Fired Me

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Giving Up the Ghost

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Invisible and Insidious

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

[Browsings]
“The proof of his existence was this brain, and by attaching himself to it, and the power of it, he created a little bit of immortality for himself.”
Illustration by Lou Beach
Article
No Slant to the Sun·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“She didn’t speak the language, beyond “¿cuánto?” and “demasiado,” but that didn’t stop her. She wanted things. She wanted life, new experiences, a change in the routine.”
Photograph © Stuart Franklin/Magnum Photos
[Browsings]
Burn After Reading·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

William Powell published The Anarchist Cookbook in 1971. He spent the next four decades fighting to take it out of print.
“The book has hovered like an awkward question on the rim of my consciousness for years.”
© JP Laffont/Sygma/Corbis
Article
The Spy Who Fired Me·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“In industry after industry, this data collection is part of an expensive, high-tech effort to squeeze every last drop of productivity from corporate workforces.”
Illustration by John Ritter
Article
Invisible and Insidious·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“Wherever we are, radiation finds and damages us, at best imperceptibly.”
Photograph © 2011 Massimo Mastrorillo and Donald Weber/VII

Hours per day that a death-row inmate in China wears hand and ankle restraints:

24

A multidisciplinary team detected cardiac arrhythmia in the works of Beethoven.

There was a run on cases of 5.56mm M855 green-tip rifle bullets, after the White House moved to ban their manufacture and sale because they can pierce police armor.

Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!

HARPER’S FINEST

Driving Mr. Albert

By

He could be one of a million beach-bound, black-socked Florida retirees, not the man who, by some odd happenstance of life, possesses the brain of Albert Einstein — literally cut it out of the dead scientist's head.

Subscribe Today