Sunday, October 15, 2006

# Posted 9:27 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

LAST WEEK'S MISSING ROUND-UP: Is the content of the Sunday morning talk shows of no more than fleeting significance, or does it have a measure of lasting value? If one judges it to be little more than self-serving spin, then there is no reason to revisit it once the next media cycle has begun.

But perhaps the half-life of such material is greater than just a few days in duration. For example, last week's debate on Meet the Press between Missouri Senate candidates Jim Talent and Claire McCaskill will remain relevant at least until election day. And Tim Russert's discussion with Bob Woodward reflected an interesting development in the journalistic profession's sense of itself.

Of course, you could always just say that I'm too set in my ways to miss a round-up. If so, then forgive me and keep on scrolling. Otherwise, let me say that Reps. Ray LaHood (R-IL) and Tom Davis (R-VA) were on CBS, while ABC had Reps. Rahm Emmanuel (D-IL) and Adam Putnam (R-FL), followed by Jim Baker talking about the Iraq Study Group.
Talent: B. Aggressive. Reasonably well-spoken. But little to offer beyond talking points from the Republcian play book.

McCaskill: B. More eloquent than her opponent. Yet she seemed to bend before the force of Talent's attacks, even though they were wholly predictable. Her talking points were also straight out of the party play book, resulting in the expected confusion re: Iraq.

Woodward: B. When Russert talks to journalists, he usually treats them as colleagues who are implicitly to be trusted, so no tough questions. But not this time. Russert kept confronting Woodward with criticism of his book by adminstration spokesmen and others. No question was particularly tough, nor was any of them in Russert's voice, rather than taking the form of verbatim quotations. But the simple length of Russert's list made Woodward's constant denials seems just a mite less than 100% credible.

LaHood: C. A friend of Hastert, and committed to the hopeless cause of defending the GOP leadership's handling of the Foley scandal. Good grades were simply out of reach.

Davis: B. He's one of those Republicans who has chosen, if only because of self-interest, to carefully distance himself from the leadership without burning any bridges. Regardless of the motive, that's better than defending incompetence.

Putnam: C. Aggressive and well-spoken. As a rising member of the GOP leadership, he may have felt he had no choice but to spin for a hopeless cause. But perhaps this was a lost opportunity to demonstrate some independence.

Baker: B. Said nothing and basked in the glory of being a Republican who once had the chance to overthrow Saddam and occupy Iraq, but decided to it wasn't a good idea. That's good politics. And it helps that Stephanopoulos didn't come up with a single tough question to ask him.
Although soft on Baker, Stephanopoulos was very good about challenging Emmanuel, even though Democrats have almost nothing to apologize for in relation to Foley. Steph asked how it's possible that twenty years ago, when Rep. Gerry Studds (D-MA), was discovered to have sex with a page, the party did nothing more than censure him. Whereas Foley had to resign immediately even though he never touched a page (although I'm sure he would have), Studds served 14 more years with the full support of his party.

Emmanuel couldn't explain. I'd suggest the Democrats could afford to protect their own when they had a huge majority in Congress. In addition, the fact that GOP congressmen Dan Crane (R-IL) also had sex with a page meant the Democrats didn't have to worry about being the focus of public anger.

On a related note, Studds died yesterday. It is unfortunate that the first openly gay congressman had to undermine such a notable achievement by sleeping with a page.
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