For all of Donald Trump’s moral flaws – the women, the profanities, the routine personal insults, the continual unpresidential conduct – he has raised the moral bar in one all-important area: This president has kept a great many of his promises (even if that wall is nowhere near to being built). And this outsized fact will be a huge advantage next year against whichever conventional politician wins the Democratic nomination.
CNN’s decision not to allow any “raise your hand” questions in the Democrat candidates’ next round of debates, which the cable news channel will telecast on July 30 and 31 from Detroit, is first and foremost an example of pure media bias. Thanks to those no-escape-hatch questions in NBC’s first round of debates last month, we learned that virtually all of the candidates would extend taxpayer-funded healthcare to illegal aliens; most would downgrade illegal entry into the United States to a mere civil offense; plus a number of them, when asked in such direct terms, could not hide from the fact that they would scrap all availability of private health coverage. Trump wasted no time gloating the next day that it meant he had already won his 2020 re-election.
Like George H.W. Bush’s breaking of his “read my lips: no new taxes” 1988 campaign pledge, and Barack Obama’s “if you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan” falsehood, the forced raising of politicians’ hands last month was the victory of clarity over these elected officials’ practiced craft of obfuscation and euphemism. When there’s viral video of you holding high your hand for paying illegals’ medical bills, it makes it quite a challenge to slide toward the center after securing the nomination next spring or summer.
And juxtaposed with that is Trump holding to his 2016 campaign list of Supreme Court nominees. Also among his promises kept are tax cuts, deregulation, removal of the U.S. from the Paris climate accord, and relocation of the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. Plus a greatly improved U.S. economy, with new records in employment levels and the markets, indicating the success of Trump’s promised policies.
Making and keeping plain-spoken pledges to the voters is about as explicitly populist as you can get. As is answering questions with a “yes” or a “no” – the essence of the moderators’ raise-your-hand tactic.
So why would journalists nix it?
Democrats’ Candidacies Die In Brightness
CNN tells us it is “the most trusted name in news,” and its newest slogan is “Facts First.” The Washington Post says “Democracy Dies in Darkness.” What is brighter or more factual than shining a klieg light on candidates as they stand side-by-side, as the nation watches live, and point blank asking them: “Do you support or oppose X?”
What NBC inadvertently discovered, and CNN is making sure doesn’t happen again, is that when Democrats are forced to reveal, in plain clarity, what they would do if given the presidency, the American people don’t like it. CNN itself found in a poll it released July 1, for instance, that a sizable majority of 59% of Americans oppose extending government-financed health coverage to illegal aliens.
The Democratic National Committee in March pointedly refused to allow Fox News to host any of the debates between its presidential candidates. DNC chairman Tom Perez remarked that “the inappropriate relationship between President Trump, his administration and Fox News has led me to conclude that the network is not in a position to host a fair and neutral debate for our candidates.”
Democrats were worried the Fox questioners would ask tough questions, the answers to which would cause embarrassment that Trump would capitalize on. It turns out the friendly, or “fair and neutral,” questioners from decidedly left-of-center NBC – Lester Holt, Noticias Telemundo’s Jose Diaz-Balart (whose aunt was Fidel Castro’s first wife), Chuck Todd, Savannah Guthrie and MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow – proved more trouble than Perez expected, simply because they asked probing questions.
TMI, as the humorous social media meme abbreviates “too much information,” isn’t good for this crop of presidential wannabes. We’ll find out next week whether CNN’s Dana Bash, Don Lemon and Jake Tapper are more interested in extracting information from these politicians, or helping them beat the incumbent next year.
— Written by Thomas McArdle
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