“These are extraordinary times for our country,” President Barack Obama repeated yesterday in his Washington speech outlining his national security philosophy and vision. A few minutes after that, former Vice President Dick Cheney delivered an equally strong and eloquent response. Extraordinary, indeed. We rarely have had the opportunity to hear such gripping and passionate speeches on a major issue in such a closely-timed way.
What’s been fascinating in the 24 hours since both speeches, is how little of the analysis has been about the substance contained in each. Bob Schieffer on CBS this morning declared that — politically — Dick Cheney was the winner. “Cheney’s Compelling, Human Speech Was Better Than Obama’s Boring Legal Seminar,” Mary Kate Cary wrote this afternoon. A local TV political reporter declared Cheney “the winner” during a radio appearance on Thursday afternoon in which the politics, not the merits, of the arguments, was the focus. The Associated Press, in its analysis this afternoon, headlined “Analysis: Obama debating Cheney is a plus for GOP.”
So that’s it, then? One of the most compelling days for substantive debate on one of the ost important issues facing the country is settled on the basis of style and political gamesmanship and not on the substance of the argument?
This is why Jon Stewart, who at least listened to what was in the speeches, is doing some of the best journalism in the country. The bar is low.
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