04/25/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

The "What He Said" Game

Every election cycle the Republicans play the same game of distraction. They want to distract people from what they have done, so they turn the focus on to what their opponents said, or what someone who can nominally be linked to their opponents said.

And every year, the press dutifully plays along.

The ABC debate last night might have been the most egregious example because it seemed like it was the only thing they asked about, but the whole election so far has been littered with these false controversies. All of this plays exactly into the hands of the Republicans. Don't worry about what we did to this country, look away, instead spend all your time getting angry about what someone said.

What did Rev. Wright say, what did a man from the Weather Underground say, what did Obama say about bitter people, what did Hillary say about Bosnia? And now, it's even sillier -- what did they wear? First, it was Hillary wearing something that theoretically showed cleavage -- and this was supposed to prove how cunning she is. And now it's whether Obama wears a flag lapel pin.

The thing that I keep wondering about is whether the actors in this play realize they are in a theater of the absurd and dutifully do their parts or if they are all naifs who are being played themselves.

Does Stephanopoulos realize that he is helping the Republican election strategy by asking an insane and inane question about whether Obama wears an American flag? Or does he have no clue as to how he is being spun? It's all in the question, George. In case you don't know, let me make you aware, the answer is irrelevant, the Republicans win when you ask the question because 1) it sets Obama up as unpatriotic and makes him look defensive when he answers that he is patriotic =- it's like asking him whether he beats his wife 2) it distracts from the real issues and gets people to vote the wrong way based on superficialities rather than the real issues that affect their lives.

This Republican administration, aided and abetted the whole way by the Republicans in Congress, has led us into a disastrous war in Iraq. 4,000 Americans killed, 30,000 wounded, hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians killed. Think about that for a second. Hundreds of thousands of civilians -= women, children, brothers, sisters, aunts, grandfathers =- all killed based on a tremendous, world changing mistake by the Republicans, George W. Bush and John McCain (and Hillary Clinton). And they're asking what Obama is wearing?

It's the game of 'don't look at what we've done, look at what he said.' If we don't all rise up and rebel against it, they are going to keep playing this game forever. They asked Obama about what his neighbor said about something his neighbor had done forty years ago. Do you know all the things your neighbor has said and done? And what would you do if you did know? Give him a sound thrashing?

Meanwhile, Rome is burning. The economy is a mess. The dollar is crashing because we have spent far too much money and borrowed even more for wars that did more harm than good. And now Charlie Gibson asks, no demands, that Clinton and Obama pledge to never, ever raise taxes. He says that revenues always rise when you lower capital gains taxes. Really? Would they rise even more if we lower the rate to 1%? How about 0%?

Does Charlie Gibson know that Republicans lower taxes irresponsibly every time they get into office and then blame the Democrats for raising them because the economy is crashing when they get into office? Does he know this shell game? Does he know his question is loaded to make it appear that the Democrats want to take your money and that everything would be fine if we just stopped taxing everyone? Does he ever ask the Republicans to take a pledge to not cut taxes if the budget isn't balanced? Think about that one for a second. You have to think about it because it has never, ever been asked of the Republicans.

But what a relief it was when they did ask the loaded policy questions because they were at least policy questions. I timed it. It took 52 minutes into the debate before the ABC "News" folks asked a single question on the issues. They were a parody of themselves. It was embarrassing to watch.

Will someone ask John McCain -- yes or no, if you had to do Iraq war over again, would you do it? I don't want to hear about how McCain complained about Rumsfeld and how he would have done the war so much better. I want to know, knowing what you know now, would you have invaded Iraq? Shoot, they won't even ask him to apologize for what his pastor said or what his neighbor said, let alone ask him the most relevant question there is.

This game sickens me. All I want to know now is whether the so-called news folks are in on it or if they are fools being played like clueless puppets. I want to know whether I should be angry or sad. Imagine how embarrassed they must feel this morning if none of this had ever occurred to them and for the first time they realized they've been played for fools all along. That the Republicans call them names, accuse them of being biased and then have them do their bidding every year -- and then laugh at them behind their back and talk about how pathetic they are.

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