Happy with our 49 percent
So the Democrats continue to pull out of television debates that would be shown on Fox News. So much for bringing the country together. So much for broadening the appeal of the party's message by reaching out to new or lapsed Democratic voters.
A longer version of the Associated Press story linked to above quotes a spokesman for Barack Obama saying: "CNN seemed like a more appropriate host." So Obama doesn't want to be president of the whole country, just the portion that watches CNN?
John Edwards was the first to say no to a Fox News debate. Obama and Hillary Clinton have followed suit. They take a measure of cover in the fact that the Democratic National Committee sanctioned six debates, none of them on Fox News, letting the candidates say they're going to all the DNC debates.
Good grief. It's unfortunate enough that plenty of Americans choose to get their news from only one source or read the commentary of people with whom they already agree. But that is their choice as consumers. The candidates are not consumers. They're applicants for a job. If they're unwilling to make their case to some of their would-be constituents/employers, they don't deserve the job.
Memo to the Democratic field: Read this story from just after the 2004 election. It's called "The Red Sea." David von Drehle, writing for the Washington Post Sunday magazine, interviewed voters in the stretch of counties from Nebraska to Texas that almost universally voted for President Bush over John Kerry. At the end of the trip, von Drehle stands in the middle of nowhere, looking all around him:
"For a moment it felt like we were in a world apart, so distinct and separate did this lonely sheet of earth appear. But I knew that if we set off and kept going, we'd meet up eventually with Blue America. In a tangible sense, even after this bitter election, something connected this land to that one, something more durable than fear and loathing, though it was beyond my view. An industry has been set up to convince us otherwise, but I'm here to tell you that a person can get from there to here, and here to there. Maybe next time, the Democrats might give it a try."
UPDATE: E.J. Dionne disagrees. He writes: "I am an avid reader of conservative magazines such as National Review and the Weekly Standard. But if these two publications teamed up to sponsor a Democratic debate, would anyone accuse Edwards, Obama and Clinton of 'blacklisting' if the candidates said, 'no, thanks'?"
Me: Actually, I'd love to hear the Democratic candidates field questions from the editors of those magazines, just as I'd like to hear the Republican candidates pressed by The American Prospect and The New Republic. Sounds to me like a good way to find out who really knows what he or she is talking about -- as well as a way for the eventual president to build a broader mandate.