How David Gregory blew it

If NBC talking head David Gregory, the moderator of last night's US Senate debate between Republican Scott Brown and Democrat Elizabeth Warren, did not watch a recording of the first debate, then shame on him for being lazy. WBZ's Jon Keller, the first time around, admirably covered what Gregory wasted a good 20 minutes of valuable air time probing.

If Gregory did see round one and still chose to open round two with the issues of Warren's Cherokee heritage and her legal representation of two big corporations, then shame on him for being a showboat more interested in preening for his beltway buddies than exploring substance.

This is not to say that these twin prongs of Brown's principle attack on Warren should be off limits.

I think the Cherokee heritage issue has exhausted itself. If the poll published by the Boston Globe last Sunday is any indication, so do more than a majority of likely voters. (Note to Gregory, you may not read the Globe, but the Washington Post had a solid piece on the subject.)

Cherokee Grandma was a delightful sideshow when it first broke; spotlighting, as it did, academia's whacky preoccupation with quotas of all stripes.

But as Harvey Silverglate pointed out in a blog post headlined "Harvard's PR Machine and the Cherokee's", the real culprit in this episode was the world's greatest university.

The whole thing made Warren look a bit silly in some eyes, but to ascribe (as some do) nasty, venal, or evil motives to a woman who clearly takes honest pride in her heritage is -- by now -- base.

Warren's corporate clients, on the other hand, are fair game -- given the Harvard Law professor's posture as a champion of the poor, working people, and the middle class. Warren is on her way to crafting a credible answer. She's got the basics, but now she needs a sound bite. Stay tuned.

If Gregory wanted to play gotcha -- and whether we like it or not, politics is a blood sport -- he should have done so later in the debate. Instead of opening with fresher, more relevant questions, Gregory took the easy way out. Let's call it the Thinking Man's Cheap Shot.

So what should Gregory have asked? That would have been for Gregory to decide. Libya? Social Security? China? College Loans? After all, that is what he gets paid the big bucks for.

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