Between Friends

Thinking about Wolf Blitzer's atrocious performance as moderator and Tim Russert's slicker, better-executed version of the same BS at the previous Democratic debate, is one reminder that at least one reason the GOP contenders haven't gotten this kind of roasting is that I feel like I've seen them debate on Fox News a lot. Meanwhile, though I wouldn't normally spend a lot of time praising a Republican propaganda outlet, this actually seems like a very wise and appropriate strategy. A primary campaign, after all, is an inside-the-family argument about the direction of a political party and a political movement. It's very appropriate, under the circumstances, for the debate to be moderate by someone who's part of the family and can try to maintain a tone and focus designed to appeal to the broader family that's making the decisions.

Blitzer and Russert, by contrast, aren't trying to help advance an intra-family argument. Instead, they're trying to get further up the totem poll of "respectable" DC media, where you prove your chops through relentless hostility to substantive discussion about issues.

Obviously, since there's no Fox News of the left, Democrats can't directly adopt the GOP strategy. But it has some real merit to it. I'd much rather see a debate moderated by am undecided progressive who's trying to learn more -- and help fellow progressives learn more -- about the candidates for the nomination than by a cynical-yet-ignorant DC talking head with a nose for blood. Since the primary season now last over six million months, the candidates all have plenty of opportunity to spar with brain-dead television interviewers outside of the debates.