For Broder and McCain, the presidential campaign would be respectful and substantive if only McCain had gotten to know Obama better by sharing a stage with him. Debates, they argue, discourage "tawdry exchange of charges."
But this doesn't make sense. If McCain wanted to be an honorable candidate, he could be an honorable candidate, whether his opponent is a Senate colleague or a total stranger. Building a rapport is not a prerequisite for honest campaigning -- character, integrity, and respect for the political process are prerequisites for honest campaigning.
I don't spend much time discussing Broder, his shortcomings are well documented throughout the liberal blogosphere. Recently though I read Timothy Crouse's "The Boys on the Bus" about the press and the 1972 Presidential campaign. What really jumped out at me was that David Broder circa 1972 was just as ridiculous as David Broder circa 2008. I had assumed that Broder was a once brilliant columnist who had simply been slowed by old age and too many years inside The Beltway. Here's Crouse on Broder,
"...no story intrigued [Broder] more than the way in which Richard Nixon set out to rebuild the fractured Republican party, and his own political career, in 1966. Broder's coverage reflected his awe for Nixon's impeccable professionalism..." - The Boys on the Bus page 88
How's that for missing the forest for the trees? Crouse continues
"...Broder realized that he still really believed that 'our party system was an exquisitely tuned mechanism, designed to deal with the regional, economic and political differences in a continent-sized democracy.' He didn't wish to see that system damaged. He admitted that his was 'essentially a very status quo view.' And he began to see, for the first time, that there was a widespread disaffection with conventional politics throughout the country. But when he finished his year at Harvard [Broder was a fellow at the Kennedy School of Government in 1969], Broder wrote a book, "The Party's Over," in which he argued that the cure for this massive disaffection was to reform and revive the two parties so that the system would work well again." - The Boys on the Bus page 89
Sound familiar? 40 years later and Broder still sees all politics through his "very status quo" worldview. In 40 years he has not evolved as a political observer or analyst. From Woodstock, through Nixon and Watergate, on to the age of Reagan, followed by Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich in the 1990s and on through George W. Bush. In all of that time, through all of that turmoil David Broder is still analyzing politics and politicians in the same manner.
It would be frustrating if Broder were merely your father or a conservative uncle but he's not just a father or uncle, he's "The Dean." He has a twice weekly column in the Washington Post. He is one of the most widely read and widely respected journalists in the country. Is it any wonder that our political discourse is in such a wretched state when a man like Broder is viewed as The Dean of the Washington Press Corps?
David Broder was hopelessly out of touch 40 years ago. What does that make him today?