The Nagourney Fallacy

Today, the Times's Adam Nagourney makes a case for the legitimacy of last week's much-reviled ABC Democratic debate. It had its weaknesses, Nagourney concedes, but it wasn't really that bad. Here's his argument in a nutshell:

Mr. Obama’s association with Mr. Ayers, or his decision to continue to attend services at his church, or his remark about bitter working-class voters, are isolated episodes that may say little about Mr. Obama and may pale in significance compared to the weightier issues facing the country. Even so, they are the kind of things that Republicans will no doubt try to use against Mr. Obama. In particular, Republicans are likely to aim that material at blue-collar voters who, to date, have been slow to support Mr. Obama and for whom, Republicans believe, the same questions that Mr. Obama’s critics described as trivial could have great resonance if Mr. Obama is the Democratic candidate in the fall election.

There are two big problems with this line of reasoning. First, Nagourney fails to recognize that, by turning specific Republican attacks into debate questions--mostly regarding Barack Obama--Charlie Gibson and George Stephanoupolos legitimized those attacks.

Second, imagine the sort of debates that this standard--if embraced--could lead to in the future. It would be okay, for example, to ask Hillary Clinton: "Senator, you're viewed with great distaste by your detractors, who describe you--forgive me--as a ball-breaking, Machiavellian harpy. How do you respond?"

Nagourney gets an A for effort. The debate still sucked.

| More

 Friends' Activity   Popular 
All Blogs
Follow the Phoenix
  • newsletter
  • twitter
  • facebook
  • youtube
  • rss
Latest Comments
Search Blogs
Media Log Archives