Demonization and disappointment

GOP candidates' reluctance to fight saddens liberal media

The most interesting part of Saturday night’s Republican presidential debate actually happened afterward.

The ABC News “analysis” of the debate was essentially a group of left-leaning observers wholly disappointed that Republicans hadn’t cannibalized each other or beheaded the frontrunner.

They actually seemed disappointed.

The “analysis” was almost as revealing as “moderators” George Stephanopoulos’ and Diane Sawyer’s questions: The conservative Media Research Center says their questions came at the candidates from the liberal perspective by a 6 to 1 margin.

Congratulations may be due to ABC for its fairness: For the debate on NBC on Sunday, the ratio of liberal questions to conservative was even worse: 8 to 1.

Even more amazing: In the ABC debate, says MRC, 25 percent of the questions were about contraception-related issues or gay marriage.

Really? Do Stephanopoulos and Sawyer really believe those are the most pressing issues facing a country $15 trillion in debt and battling historic levels of unemployment?

Of course not. So why the skewing of the questions?

Perhaps it’s an attempt to portray the Republican field as “extreme,” particularly in its defense of life. That would be an interesting strategy, considering the media never much cared to explore Barack Obama’s views on life – or his public record in the Illinois state legislature, where he actually opposed a bill prohibiting the denial of medical care for infants born alive in botched abortions.

How is the president’s record not “extreme”?

But we also loved Mitt Romney’s answer to Stephanopoulos’ ridiculous hypothetical and irrelevant question about whether “states have the right to ban contraception.”

“No state wants to!” Romney said, wondering why the question was even being asked. “The idea of you putting forward things that states might want to do – that no state wants to do – and asking me whether they can do it or not, is kind of a silly thing, I think.” Yep.

Unless you’re less a
moderator than an advocate, and you want to conjure up some hypothetical conservative hobgoblins with which to frighten the electorate. Again, they’re just trying to paint Republicans as extreme in the defense of life.

You know what? Let them! Republican candidates ought to embrace the left-wing media’s label of “extremist” when it comes to protecting innocent life.

Still, should the media be so biased – to the point that The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank admits an “antipathy” in the “general” media toward candidate Rick Santorum’s social conservatism?

And aren’t the “general” media out of step? A large plurality of the country identifies itself as conservative rather than liberal (Gallup says 40 percent describe their views as conservative, while only 21 percent say they’re liberal).

You can see why the media would be disappointed if Republicans don’t fight each other sufficiently. Dividing them may be the only way to stop them in 2012.

If the demonizing doesn’t work, that is.

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