originally posted on The Nation
One of the best, and most telling, parts of last night’s debate took place before the debate even started. In all fairness, it’s already really awkward to hold a debate on Martin Luther King Jr. Day in the last state to acknowledge the day as a federal holiday (in 2000). On top of that, there’s the whole ideological antithesis between King on the one hand and Fox News and the GOP candidates on the other. And then, add to that killer combo a candidate who doesn’t want to help “blah” people, a candidate who actually voted against making Martin Luther King Jr. Day a holiday and would have (his words not mine) voted against the civil rights bill and… I could go on, but I’d literally be here all day. Perhaps nothing captured the awkwardness and inappropriateness of the when-and-where of the GOP debate more than the painfully awkward and inappropriate segue from acknowledging Martin Luther King Jr. Day to starting the debate, when moderator and Fox News host Bret Baier said,
“Today, as you know, is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. As we look live at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington, its first year on the mall, we’re reminded of one of the many notable quotes from the late Dr. King. ‘The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in a moment of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.’ This campaign has been filled with challenge and controversy. The challenges are large. Here in South Carolina, the unemployment rate is near 10 percent, well above the national average. And on this MLK Day, unemployment in African-American communities is near 16 percent. But the controversy on the campaign trail in recent days has been about Governor Romney’s record. We are going to talk extensively about jobs, federal debt, world hotspots and social issues, but, first, let’s clear the air.”
Check out the video. The awkwardness starts at 2:25.