American Idle: MSNBC Gets To The Issues After An Hour Of Self-Obsession

03/28/2008 02:45 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

About all you need to know about last night's debate is that the third sentence out of Brian Williams' mouth, introducing the many bunk questions about race that would follow, was, "Our sponsors expected it of us." Just so you know what was driving these distractions into action. The tragic hero of the affair was the nameless member of the crowd who Howard Bealed, "Could we stop talking...[unintelligible] race-based questions coming from you two?!" A nation salutes you, whoever you are. Don't tase him, bro.

Unfortunately, the efforts of this anonymous patriot were for naught, as debate moderators Williams, Tim Russert, and Natalie Morales were bent on spending the first segment of the debate enjoying a long, smug look into the mirror and at their Great Works--the various process storylines they enjoy perpetuating and the race/gender sideshow into which the campaigns got themselves mired since the New Hampshire Primary. The first question that contained substance-like substance was the twentieth. Here's what preceded that:

  • "Senator Clinton, why are we talking about race?"
  • "Senator Obama, why are we talking about race?"
  • "Senator Edwards, what do you think of how we're talking about race?"
  • "Senator Obama, I'm going to re-ask the question, and pretend that this speaks to 'accountability."
  • "Senator Obama, do you think anyone has noticed that you are black by now? Because you are totally black!"
  • "Senator Obama, are you sure that the people in New Hampshire didn't suddenly notice you were black? How else can you explain what happened with the polls?"
  • "Senator Clinton, I think I'll re-ask the question I just re-asked and again pretend that I'm concerned about accountability. I'm Tim Russert, serious journalist!"
  • "Senator Clinton, any chance I can get you to criticize one of your own surrogates? No? Okay, over to Natalie Morales."
  • "Hey, Natalie Morales here, and by sheer luck, I happen to have a question from a voter that is at least as asinine as the ones we've been asking!"
  • "Senator Edwards, you're white. And male! Don't you feel guilty about running for President?"
  • "Senator Obama, you made Senator Clinton cry! Don't you feel bad about that?"
  • "Senator Edwards, isn't it true that you and Senator Obama have privately formed the No Girls Allowed Club?"
  • "Senator Clinton, why do you and your husband hate Senator Obama so much?"
  • "Would you at least acknowledge that your opponents are allowed to be President?"
  • "Senator Obama, I'm going to take a remark you gave to an obscure newpaper and blow it wildly out of proportion, okay?"
  • "Now we're going to ask each of you the sort of question that really bad managers ask during really cliched job interviews."
  • "Senator Obama! Have you heard all the terrible things they're saying about you on the internet? We got three emails just this week! Let's talk about these things in detail!"

And then they took a break, and if America had any sense at all, they switched over to American Idol, where candidates are actually tested on the merits and where people's bad ideas are exposed without the need to "balance" them with false arguments.