Tuesday, September 05, 2006



I rarely watch the Sunday morning talking head shows, choosing instead to spend the lazy morning with my family or, with the season fast approaching, preparing to watch NFL football all day. But this Sunday was a little different as the wife and Gracie were over at Grandma's house and I was over at my folks' house just diddling around online. So, I decided to catch Face the Nation, this week guest hosted by Russ Mitchell. [Transcript available here.] After watching Mr. Mitchell attempt to interview Senator Mitch McConnell, the word "tool" came to mind. And since "tool" popped into my head, henceforth for this article, Russ Mitchell will be known as Tool. Clear?
The most important lesson I'd like to depart upon Tool today is that the show is, in fact called "FACE THE NATION" and not "BEND THE NATION OVER AND HAVE YOUR WAY WITH IT". As such, I expect the moderator of the program to digest what a particular speaker is saying and be able to respond with pertinent followup questions. The job of the moderator is not to ask a series of canned questions pumped into your little earpiece with nary a thought of context while your guest goes through his various talking points and never being challenged on any of them. Unfortunately, Tool apparently didn't get the memo on how to be an effective moderator as he allowed McConnell to spout of any number of questionable statements and outright lies including the ad nauseum equation that fighting Iraq somehow equals no terrorists in the U.S. He then claimed that, contrary to polling and conventional wisdom, it is the Democrats that are in trouble in the fall elections. He specifically referenced Washington's senate race, where Cantwell currently holds an 11 point advantage based on the average of the last five polls taken and the open seat in Minnnesota's senate race where Klobuchar currently holds a nine point lead (again based on an average of the past five polls taken). He even made reference that there may even be a chance in Nebraska's senate race - a race in which Nelson holds a HUGE 21 point lead against Ricketts.
Now, a competent moderator might have actually, I don't know, done a little bit of homework and called McConnell on some of this garbage, but not our boy Tool.
McConnell continued by then fellating Don Rumsfeld, first by saying that his speech (you remember the one equating anyone against Bush's running of the Iraq war is akin to Nazi appeasers and are morally and intellectually confused, right?) was "superb" and that "Secretary Rumsfeld's done an excellent job." In fact, he'll he "remembered as one of the great secretaries of defense."
Astoundingly, what with all the softballs that McConnell is tossing to him, Tool completely whiffs any chances of hitting one out of the park by actually asking any tough questions. Instead, Tool stuck right to his set of scripted questions, never once challenging McConnell's malarky. I guess Tool was sick that day in Journalism school where they taught you how to properly interview someone. Since Tool apparently hasn't a clue how to ask a pertinent question, let me throw one at you: When is Bob Schieffer coming back?

[Note: Polling info courtesy of Pollster.com.]


henry said...

Love your columns!! I know it's nitpicking, but I wish you would check spelling and context. it's "bear" not "bare" and "fellating" not "felating." Thanks for the otherwise excellent work!

budpaul said...

Thanks for catching them. I'm normally a huge stickler for proper spelling. A misspelled word can completely take me out of a story.
I'll work harder to nail these things.