The Rittenhouse Review

A Philadelphia Journal of Politics, Finance, Ethics, and Culture

Monday, September 29, 2003  

Too Friggin’ Bad

It’s official. The second-stage of the primary season has begun. The season in which the punditocracy decries the opposition party for making things, well, just too darn confusing. And who else to initiate this recurrence but the thoroughly estimable “media critic” Howard Kurtz of the Washington Post?

In today’s “Media Notes” (“Wake Up and Pay Attention!”), which, as it is so often, is actually about politics, with a precious soupçon of quasi-blogging, Kurtz tells us the Democratic presidential debates are “a snooze,” “about as exciting as sitting through a long college seminar on patent law” -- Quick! Where did Howie attend law school? -- and crowded with “wannabes.”

Poor Howie! It’s all just too much for his “Where’s Waldo?” brain. “The crowded field muddies the story line for reporters, who lust for a one-on-one shootout,” the “media critic” with a show on CNN complains. “But until someone has the guts to stage a debate without the likes of [former senator and ambassador Carol Moseley-]Braun and [Rep. Dennis] Kucinich, that’s not going to change.”

God forbid Democrats -- no, all Americans -- have a chance to hear from each declared candidate and to consider the relative merits and flaws of each presidential prospect, let alone to actually be able to vote for their choice once the early caucus and primary states have had their say. There’s no time for that! Simplify it! Streamline it! Gosh, this is too much work for Howie and his pals.

Worse, there’s not a proverbial dime’s worth of difference between `em, at least in Howie’s world. “The larger reason is that there aren’t many real policy differences among the Gang of 10,” writes Kurtz. “With the exception of the more left-wing bottom tier, the top candidates spend their time bashing Bush and reciting the broad principles of Democratic orthodoxy.”

And to top it off, Kurtz goes on to mock his very stock-in-trade, the kind of “analysis” that has defined his entire career: “Since the ideological differences are slight, we're often left with theater criticism: Did Dean lose his cool? Did Clark appear presidential? Was Kerry crisp enough, Gephardt feisty enough, Lieberman contrarian enough?”

Come on, Howie. Can’t you try to pretend to earn your living? At least until Iowa?

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