Saturday, November 17, 2007

So this is what it has come to...

By Michael J.W. Stickings

In case you missed it -- and, thankfully, there are fine bloggers like Steve Benen who watch the debates, and write about them, so we don't have to (unless you're into that sort of thing -- I watch them, now and then, but mostly I catch the highlights later) -- Hillary Clinton was asked at the end of Thursday's Democratic debate in Las Vegas whether she preferred diamonds or pearls.

A ridiculous and insulting (to her, to us, to the process, to democracy) question, to be sure.

But Maria Luisa, a student at UNLV, had actually wanted to ask a question about nuclear waste, not Clinton's taste in jewelry. (Clinton laughed, but there was nothing funny about it.) Indeed, it was CNN, the debate host network, that told her to ask the diamonds/pearls question -- see Marc Ambinder, who quotes from Luisa's MySpace page. For its part, CNN is denying that it "forced" her to ask the question. Greg Sargent's assessment makes sense:

So this is both better and worse for the network. On the one hand, it's better because the question was originally submitted by the girl, and it's obvious that the girl was hardly "forced" to ask this; rather, she was offered the opportunity and took it. The network wanted to close on a light question, and they chose this one.

On the other hand, the network is confirming that it did in fact choose a question that quizzed the first credible female Presidential candidate on her taste in jewelry. That's confessing to some pretty questionable taste.

Absolutely. The question was both "amazingly lame" and "fairly offensive," as Josh Marshall puts it. But do we really expect much else from the news media these days? CNN is right to be blamed for this, but it is hardly alone in reducing politics down to such levels. And though the question was ridiculous and insulting and lame and offensive, it was hardly more so than Fox News, the entirety of which is ridiculous and insulting and lame and offensive, or than whatever nonsense Chris Matthews or Tim Russert is spewing at any given moment over on the peacock network. Indeed, much of this campaign involves the news media's vulgar sexualization of the Democratic field -- notably their attempts to dominate Clinton (or to present her as a manly bitch) and to emasculate Obama and Edwards.

And the diamonds/pearls question was just more of the same, if somewhat less vulger that so much of what has preceded it. Indeed, what was this other than a last-minute message from CNN that Clinton is submissive, a woman who likes her jewels, a woman who, by virtue of being a woman, a member of the far, far weaker sex, may not quite be what Americans are looking for in a president, which is someone with the balls -- literally -- to wage war, spy, and torture.

Her husband received the boxers/briefs treatment, speaking of balls, but that was nothing compared to this. That made him look human, this made her look like a jewel-crazy princess in need of a strong man to confirm her submission. Her response to the question didn't help matters -- I would have preferred something along the lines of "Fuck you, CNN!" (now that would have been truly ballsy) -- but she handled the stupidity of the moment fairly well. And although the intent may have been to make her look like a princess, I suspect that she will ultimately benefit from the transparent inanity of it all.


Here's the video. Watch it.

And then take a moment to contemplate the poor, wretched state of American democracy, as well as the equally poor and even more wretched state of America's news media.

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  • This is nothing but yet another reason to attack and smear Hillary. I actually thought it was a pretty valid question.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:39 AM  

  • You realize I'm defending Hillary here, right?

    But how was this a valid question for a presidential debate?

    By Blogger Michael J.W. Stickings, at 12:52 AM  

  • Boxers or briefs?

    CNN wanted its MTV moment. I doubt it was about attacking hillary.

    By Blogger Carl, at 7:27 AM  

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