Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Thursday, June 28, 2007

Debating by the Book

Disingenuousness is always in the air at Presidential debates, but tonight’s Democratic do promises some new wrinkles.

For a start, the network announcement makes it sound like a book promotion: “Inspired by the book The Covenant with Black America, the All-American Presidential Forums on PBS marks the first time that a panel comprised of journalists of color will be represented in primetime. Many of the questions that will be asked of the candidates focus on key domestic priorities that were originally outlined in the book.”

The moderator will be Tavis Smiley, a talk show host who edited the best-seller. “Immediate public feedback on the performance of the candidates,” PBS notes, “will be conducted by noted pollster Frank Luntz.” Some Democrats would describe Luntz more accurately as a Republican hack who twists words to deceive voters.

In this setting, the candidates will be tempted to sell the sincerity of their concern for African American voters. The real test will be how well they restrain the intensity of their puckering up and address issues in realistic terms that won’t insult the intelligence of their audience.

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