The postmortem of Wednesday's Iowa GOP debate seemed to skip over the nine candidates and focus squarely on the moderator.
The moderator was Carolyn Washburn, editor of the Des Moines Register and former executive editor at the Idaho Statesman.
• Dean Barnett, a writer at the Weekly Standard, devoted the first five paragraphs style="text-decoration:underline;"> of his debate postmortem to a critique of Washburn — itself a bad sign. "At some point, the political parties will have to begin to wonder why they entrust such a critical part of our president-choosing process to people like Carolyn Washburn, people who obviously aren't up to the task."
• Syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer style="text-decoration:underline;">checked nuance at the door. "That was not just the worst debate of 2007, that was the worst debate in western history, and that includes the ancient Greeks," Krauthammer told Fox News. How's that for historical perspective?
• Washburn is taking heat for style="text-decoration:underline;">this clip, in which she asked the candidates a show-of-hands question of global warming. Fred Thompson refused to partake in what he called "hand shows." Washburn refused to give him a minute to explain his position. Say what you will about trying to turn global warming into a show-of-hands question, but when you start cutting deals with one candidate, allowing a 60-second take, you'll inevitably have eight other candidates demanding their minute. Candidates are like kids that way.
• Comment boards were no more kind. From "Kevin," a commenter style="text-decoration:underline;"> at MSNBC.com: "I did not appreciate the tone and rudeness of this moderator. How are we ever supposed to hear how the candidates really feel when she barks at them like they are children and stop everything they say. Please refrain from using this woman for any national spotlight of any kind ever again."
I'll point out for the record that there are a lot of Kevins in the world. At least two.
I'm not going to join in the postmortem here, for two very good reasons.
First, I didn't watch the debate — I've only seen a couple clips on YouTube. The debate aired in the middle of the day — a decision that, frankly, deserves as much scrutiny as the content of the debate itself. Having spent a few months in Iowa, I can attest from experience that many Iowans work on Wednesday afternoons. But I digress.
Second, even if I had set aside the day job to watch this debate, I don't think I could be an objective judge.
I'm really trying to play it straight here, I debated (no pun intended) about blogging about it at all, but since Washburn used to live and work here, I suspect there's some reader interest in this (not just in-house curiosity).
So I'll throw it open for questions. Did you watch? Do you have a take? Do you plan to watch the Register's Democratic debate today? Is this one of those cases where a journalist has become the story? And what does that say, if anything, about the state of the presidential election?