The last debate moderators panel framed their questions in right wing terms

It has been noted in many places that the Democratic debate held last Wednesday was the first to feature all female moderators. Unfortunately, Sarah Lazare writes, rather than being a victory for feminism, this did not lead to ay improvements in the nature of the questioning.

The idea that women’s representation in itself — regardless of who those women are — is a boon to women everywhere is hardly new to US political discourse. But what makes the fawning over the November 20 debate particularly tone-deaf is that the moderators’ questions were both inane and right-wing. Their inquiries were almost entirely premised on defending the benevolence of US empire, marginalizing political positions deemed too far left, and asking “gotcha” questions from the right on issues from health care to immigration. Trapped within these ideological constraints, the debate actually struck a blow against feminism — and was a blessing to the forces of chauvinism and austerity.

[Andrea] Mitchell has long doubled as a stenographer for the national security state, but this question was hawkish even by her standards. Aside from criticizing Trump for tearing up the Iran deal, the remainder of her question rested on the right-wing premise that diplomacy is somehow illiberal. Equating diplomacy with North Korea as “embracing strongmen,” Mitchell ignored that the peace efforts in Korea are being led by the South Korean left, namely the women who make up anti-war groups like Women Cross DMZ.

Criticizing Trump for being gratuitously flattering to Kim Jong-un is one thing, but painting the whole enterprise of diplomacy with North Korea as “making concessions” is a gross distortion of what the talks have entailed. It’s not clear what “concessions” Mitchell thinks Washington has made to North Korea, but she seems dead set on baiting candidates into denouncing peace summits as such. Summits that — while perhaps distasteful to the American press — a sizable majority of South Koreans, in poll after poll after poll, support.

The only time the moderators introduced a positive framing was when they asked candidates what they would do about the high cost of child care and the lack of parental leave.


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