Brian Williams must crave attention. In the latest Republican debate, instead of moderating, he personally debated all the participants. The actual discussion between candidates was more civil and constructive than the endless string of gotcha speeches foisted as questions on the panel by NBC's Williams and his Politico sidekick, John Harris.
Question after question was an attempt to put each GOP candidate on the defensive. More accusation and White House talking points passed from the lips of Williams and Harris than legitimate questions looking to determine the ideas of the candidates and how they differed.
As a result the debate was next to useless for voters.
Newt Gingrich was clearly incensed by the tone. He responded by telling the media duo: "I for one and I hope that all of my friends up here are going to repudiate every effort of the news media to get Republicans to fight each other, to protect Barack Obama who deserves to be defeated. And all of us are committed as a team. Whoever the nominee is, we are all for defeating Barack Obama."
Gingrich caught the essence of the Williams/Harris strategy. Ask every question as if they were written by David Axelrod to maximize advantage by the Obama campaign. This debate was less about the primary campaign and more about generating video for Obama ads in the general election.
Sadly, the moderators inflicted damage on all of the candidates. In particular Governor Rick Perry came under blistering attack from tweedledee and tweedledum.
Right out of the box Perry was hammered about the number of new quality jobs in Texas. Williams tried to imply all the new jobs in Texas were minimum wage. Perry's record of job creation was denigrated as consisting of substandard jobs.
Perry responded by listing prominent companies moving operations to Texas that are certainly creating above minimum wage jobs.
Only dolts in the media and Obama White House would prefer no job to a minimum wage job anyway. I bet the 46 percent of black youth that are unemployed around the country would love a minimum wage job. In the Obama economy any job is better than the utopian idea about the ideal job which never materializes.
In addition, Perry was portrayed in questions as being anti-science. Perry is skeptical of the secular religion of radical environmentalists: belief that mankind is the cause of global warming. Interestingly, Perry has science on his side. Many climate and meteorological scientists believe the earth may actually be entering into a cooling cycle.
Next, Perry was skewered for not having more Texans on the government healthcare roles. The moderators repeatedly chastised candidates for being against the healthcare individual mandate; they did this by praising Mitt Romney's past support for the individual mandate in Massachusetts. Ironically, Romney responded by giving an impassioned speech on the dangers and need to overturn Obamacare because of its mandates.
But the most damage inflicted on Perry was for calling Social Security a failure in his book "Fed-up". This was an attempt to portray Perry as attempting to end Social Security and preparing the way for the carpet bombing of older voters in the general election by the Obama machine.
As of right now, Social Security is a Ponzi scheme and actuarially unsound as Perry has suggested. It is headed for insolvency. Everyone that passed basic algebra can see the inability to pay the current benefits to the current premium payers in their youth. Money paid into the program today is squandered by the profligate leaders in Washington. Perry has shown courage by pointing this out even when others are afraid to do so.
But Social Security is the third rail, the one that kills your candidacy because over 65 year old voters come out and vote in mass. Younger voters don't show up. Obama and the Democrats working hand in hand with the old line media stars like Williams, demagogue the issue and create massive fear in these older voters. So the program isn't changed to improve it, fix it and hence secure it for current recipients.
At the end of the night Perry said in exasperation, "I feel a bit like a pinata."
But before did, he looked ahead to the other major issue of the campaign, jobs. President Obama, Perry concluded, "has proven for once and for all that government spending will not create one job. Keynesian policy and Keynesian theory is now done. We'll never have to have that experiment on America again."