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Liveblogging the Democratic debates — Gibson is useless, Clinton has “feelings”

jpozners Icon Posted by Jennifer L Pozner

January 5th, 2008

Can you imagine a less effective debate moderator than former sock-puppet pusher Charles Gibson?

I’m on the road, so can’t liveblog the Democratic debates fully tonight. But, I’ve been watching the debate and will post at least a brief wrap-up of the problems I’m identifying with the way that Gibson is framing his questions to the candidates. Journalists should clarify the public policy issues at stake in the election, not fan the flames of dissention simply to make for a more attack-filled horse race (to see what I mean, find the question Gibson asked after the taped ABC piece about social security — which he then promptly ignored, instead pitting Clinton and Obama against one another).

Also, did any of you cringe at the “likability” question Gibson’s colleague, Scott Spradling, posed to Clinton [UPDATE: text of this question, below, from NYTimes debate transcript] — and then cringe even harder when she responded with what sounded to my ears very much like a melancholy high school girl: “That hurt my feelings,” she said. You know, because chicks are emotional, right?

Or maybe it was, “You hurt my feelings”… but wouldn’t it be great if (A) the strong female frontrunner wasn’t constantly asked to defend whether or not people like her, and then (B) the strong female frontrunner didn’t feel it necessary to try to feminize herself with lines about her feelings.

SCOTT SPRADLING: …New Hampshire voters seem to believe that of those of you on the stage, you are the most experienced and the most electable. In terms of change, they see Senators Obama and Edwards as the agents of change, in New Hampshire mindset. My question to you is simply this: What can you say to the voters of New Hampshire on this stage tonight, who see a resume and like it but are hesitating on the likability issue, where they seem to like Barack Obama more.

SEN. CLINTON: Well, that hurts my feelings. (Laughter.)

MR. SPRADLING: I’m sorry, Senator. (Scattered applause.) I’m sorry.

SEN. CLINTON: But I’ll try to go on. (Laughter.)

He’s very likable. I agree with that. I don’t think I’m that bad.

SEN. OBAMA: You’re likable enough, Hillary. (Inaudible.)

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