T. A. Frank writes:
Why Harry Reid agreed to have a debate with Sharron Angle is a bit of a mystery to me. If your campaign is based on portraying your opponent as loony, then why give that opponent a chance to look reasonable? Lyndon Johnson never debated Barry Goldwater. Then again, I’m no political strategist. And neither, I’ve come to see, is Harry Reid. So let’s focus on what matters now: that a debate was held in Nevada last night between Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and his Republican challenger Sharron Angle. And its upshot was—sorry, folks—that Angle improved her chances.
I’m not suggesting that Sharron Angle, having been granted the opportunity to look reasonable, looked reasonable. On the contrary, she was very much herself—smiling maniacally in her crimson suit and hurling out bizarre fictions. But she looked reasonable enough. Lies about policy don’t really hurt you in a debate, especially when they’re voiced with conviction. What hurts you is looking evasive and squishy. Sharron Angle provided the lies. Harry Reid provided the squish.
I should mention that the moderator, Mitch Fox, did a very good job, in case that cheers anyone up. It might at least cheer Mitch Fox up. But this viewer, who has reported on Sharron Angle enough to find her alarming, was really more interested in seeing a good performance by Harry Reid.
The first question concerned illegal immigration. Why, asked Fox, had Reid neglected border security for so long? Reid started by pointing to new efforts to secure the border but soon veered into “comprehensive immigration reform,” a treacherous topic that wasn’t even raised by the moderator. “We have to do something about the people that are here that are undocumented, have them pay taxes, penalties, fines,” said Reid.
Sharron Angle’s answer was far firmer. “What we have here is an illegal alien problem,” Angle said, “and the solution is simple: secure the borders, enforce the laws. I think every state should have a sheriff like Joe Arpaio, and we should be supporting Arizona instead of suing Arizona, like Senator Reid and President Obama have. When they sued Arizona, they also allowed eleven foreign countries to join in that suit. Senator Reid, you’ve allowed eleven foreign countries to dictate our immigration law.”
To be sure, almost none of this was true. Harry Reid has nothing to do with foreign nations getting involved in the lawsuit against Arizona. And eleven foreign nations certainly aren’t dictating U.S. immigration law. (What actually happened was that they were permitted by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to file what is called an amicus brief.) But Angle’s answer was confident and clear, successfully depicting Reid as a liberal caricature.
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