Thursday, May 31, 2007

Why Buy the Cow When You Can Milk It for Free?

I've thought a lot lately that The Detroit News has a strange way of prioritizing its news coverage.

In Wednesday’s print edition, for instance, (which hardly had any must-read news on the front page), there was a one-inch news brief reporting that Democratic presidential candidates Chris Dodd and Bill Richardson were dropping out of September’s Democratic candidate debate in Detroit, organized by the Congressional Black Caucus, but being broadcast by Fox News. (“Two more Dems shun Detroit debate”). A longer version runs in the online edition. “Dodd, Richardson make it 5 Democrats shunning Detroit debate").

Dodd and Richardson now join the rest of the courageous band: John Edwards, Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama, in refusing to answer questions anywhere in shouting distance of either Brit Hume or Chris Wallace.

The rationale of these would-be leaders of the free world is: “Fox News is biased against Democrats, so we know their questions would be unfair and—and, just too hard!”

(John Edwards was the first one to cry “Never!” to the debate on the basis of anti-Democrat bias. He later added that Detroit also lacks a single decent hairdresser.)

This story should be a lot bigger in Detroit. The refusal of these candidates to participate in this debate insults Detroit, insults the Congressional Black Caucus, and especially insults Detroit's voters.

Is there any doubt that if this were a Republican debate, and any Republican candidate ever dared to bypass (or “shun”) it, for any reason whatever, that it wouldn't be a front page story for days? In articles quoting civil rights leaders condemning those racist Republicans for not caring about Detroit's African-American community? Or for intentionally intending to disrespect Detroit's majority black voters?

Sadly, this story shows up a lot more than just the cowardice of the leading Democratic candidates to face critical questioners on Fox. The real revelation is how cocksure all five candidates must be of Detroit's votes if they can scorn an opportunity to honor the city's primarily black voters in a debate featuring their city.

You can count on it that not one of these dropouts thinks he or she is risking any but the tiniest of political costs by staying away.

And that's because not one of these 5 candidates seriously doubts that, if nominated, he or she will carry Detroit in November 2008: no matter what he does, or fails to do, to either earn those votes--or earn that respect--from Detroit's voters.

Isn't it just common sense that Democratic candidates aren't going to break a sweat to earn what's always been given away for free?

Alas, and isn't this just the treatment Detroit’s black voters have earned from the party to whom they've always been so faithful--so faithful in spite of everything?

This is the real story, not some silly faux protest about the bias at Fox News started by that fake, John Edwards.

And that real story ought to be a lot bigger to Detroiters than a one-inch news brief on the fourth page.

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