Last night's Democratic "debate" in Philly was an embarrassment, and not for the candidates. (Except, perhaps, for their poor judgement in showing up at all.) It should not come as a surprise to Charlie Gibson that the crowd heckled him when he announced that ABC would be cutting away to their last commercial break of the evening. The fact that it took a full fifty minutes for the moderators to make it past the minutia of silly season comments and manufactured scandals was sad enough, but when we finally got around to any "issues" in the final half hour, the questions were still poorly formed gotcha attempts demonstrating some fundamental breakdowns in understanding on the part of the moderators.
Of all these, the most degrading moment for Gibson came when he attempted to trap the candidates with a jaw dropping question on their proposed plans to withdraw from Iraq. He pounced in, demanding to know if they would still withdraw "even if the generals advised otherwise." It is a low mark in so-called journalism when Mr. Gibson requires Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama to explain that our government is set up so that civilian leadership controls the military. The generals advise on the best way to achieve the goals set before them, but it is the Commander in Chief who sets those goals. If he needs a refresher course of why this is so, he need look no further than the end of World War II. After Germany was defeated, General George Patton pushed strenuously for the United States to attack Russia while we had the chance and the army on the ground to do it.
It was a shameful episode, and a look across the commentariat will show you that the debate was almost universally panned. Nice try, ABC. (Absolutely Bogus Claptrap?)