At the end of Thursday night’s debate between Senator Hillary Clinton and Senator Barack Obama, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer asked the candidates if they’d consider their opponent for the vice president’s slot on the ticket. It was a softball question, but an appropriate and fitting way to end an extremely most substantive debate. The Senators answered the question with predictable vagaries and refreshing humor. It was a feel-good moment, but in the context of the campaign, meaningless. Except, apparently to CNN.
To judge by their coverage Friday you’d think the question was the debate’s critical moment, a Pulitzer-worthy inquiry providing penetrating insight fraught with deep meaning and subtle nuances. So critical was the question that CNN sent an earnest reporter to ask earnest questions of politicians and pundits to further explore this critical element of the Democratic primary. The earnest report covered the earnest banalities of the answer thoroughly and, well, earnestly.
The fact is the nominee always considers selecting an opponent as a running mate. Sometimes they even do. Then again, they often don’t. This obvious reality seemed to be news only in the CNN studios.
Not that the network needs or wants it, but here’s my gratuitous advice to CNN: Instead of lingering on the night’s softball question, pursue stories exploring the substantive issues there wasn’t time to address during the debate.
- How would the candidates approach the Israeli/Palestinian conflict?
- How will they address the nation’s crumbling infrastructure?
- What’s their plans to lift up America’s public school system?
- Do they have a litmus test for Supreme Court nominees?
- How will they tackle the problem of poverty in this country?
- What’s do they think of the political situation in Russia?
- Do they think the Federal Reserve is doing a good job?
- Will they try to simplify the tax system?
Stories on topics like these not only take up just as much time between commercials as the self-congratulatory fluff pieces, but they have the added benefit of adding to the voters knowledge and understanding of the candidates. And isn’t that what America’s self-described “best political team” should be doing?