by Andrew Walden
Neil Abercrombie may believe “it’s not my job” to participate in gubernatorial debates, but it apparently is David Shapiro’s job to spin it.
Most Hawaii media except Hawai`i Free Press and today’s Hawaii Tribune-Herald are maintaining a disciplined silence on Abercrombie’s refusal. And Shapiro’s Volcanic Ash column today outlines the rather weak arguments for continuing to help Abercrombie in this way. Shapiro begins with a lie:
Two days after Republican James “Duke” Aiona challenged his Democratic opponent for governor Neil Abercrombie to six debates, Aiona’s campaign manager Dutch Hanohano issued a press release ripping Abercrombie for not immediately accepting.
False. Hanohano ripped Abercrombie for REJECTING the debate challenge by claiming “It’s not my job”. There is a difference between an active rejection and a passive non-response. Shapiro continues:
“The people of Hawai‘i need real solutions, not just talk,” Hanohano said in what hardly seemed a compelling argument for six hours of talk.
Shapiro may agree with Abercrombie that the call for debates is not compelling, but it is not the job of the media to impose their opinion on the public by withholding information. And the Star-Advertiser editors see it differently, writing September 20 “We like that Aiona has already challenged Abercrombie to six debates, which will serve to enlighten.” Shapiro continues:
There is nothing more boring in a political campaign than a debate about debates, which is on the same intellectual level as the argument over the shape of the table at the Paris peace talks.
Shapiro’s spin: This is not newsworthy, and the Republicans are stupid. This arrogant and self-referential assertion is the central argument of his column: “Another debate about debates. Yawn …” Shapiro continues:
In the 2006 Senate race between Daniel Akaka and Ed Case, you would have thought for a time that Case’s only issue was Akaka’s refusal to debate him as often as he wanted. You saw how far that got him.
In other words, Duke Aiona is a loser just like Ed Case. Ironically, this kind of junior high school childishness reflects the arrogance of an elite class of snobs who look down on the general public. Perhaps Shapiro believes media should model their coverage on his obsequious channeling of Abercrombie’s arrogance in today’s Star-Advertiser: Abercrombie's passion, energy and focus aid in election victory. But Shapiro suddenly switches:
Aiona is right that there need to be substantive debates before we go to the polls, but no candidate is going to accept an opponent’s debate proposal as presented — effectively allowing his own campaign timetable to be set by the opposition.
Feeding off his lie in the first sentence, Shapiro now pretends to be reasonable. With one hand he instructs the Abercrombie campaign in how to make its response, while with the other he holds the media at bay. Is Abercrombie intelligent enough to pull foot out of mouth and follow these instructions? Shapiro continues to instruct:
It happens by the campaigns meeting with the private groups that sponsor debates and hashing out a schedule. Until that process happens, trying to paint an opponent as being afraid to debate is one of the oldest — and cheapest — tricks in the book.
This might be impressive if such a process had begun. But it hasn’t. The cheap trick is the Democrat media covering up Neil Abercrombie’s latest in a long line of gaffes instead of covering the story as it unfolds.
Shapiro: Another debate about debates. Yawn …
Obsequious: Abercrombie's passion, energy and focus aid in election victory
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