That shot across the cultural divide came as McCain was dissing Hillary Clinton's failed old attempt to fund a museum at Woodstock, New York.
The moment comes to mind when I consider the most condescending question asked in any presidential debate this year. Maybe it's because McCain's attack on Woodstock, like Tim Russert's question (I’ll get to that, I swear) seems so beside the point. Maybe it's because McCain was flying high above the rice paddies of North Vietnam in what must've seemed an alien machine to the peasants below, shortly before he was shot down and taken prisoner in North Vietnam. Anyhow, the question Russert asked Dennis Kucinich during a recent Democratic debate was this:
"Shirley MacLaine writes in her new book that you sighted a UFO over her home in Washington state, that you found the encounter extremely moving, that it was a triangular craft, silent and hovering.... Now, did you see a UFO?"An entertaining exchange ensued, but the short answer was "yes."
Never mind that 46 percent of Americans say UFOs are real, more than "believe in" the war in Iraq.
Never mind that what Dennis Kucinich saw was most likely Dick Cheney's post-apocalypse kandy-kolored tangerine-flake streamline flying getaway gizmo. (OK, I stole some of that from Tom Wolfe.)
It suited Russert's needs. What needs? Why, to humiliate and embarrass Kucinich, of course. Sort of like the lie repeated in our so-called "liberal media" during the 2000 campaign, that Al Gore claimed to have invented the Internet.
You have to wonder about Russert's motives, especially as he posed his UFO question on the eve of Kucinich's call for a vote on the House floor as to whether Russert's former neighbor, Cheney, should be impeached for lying us into war against Iraq and beating the drums for bombing Iran.
Yes, it's a funny question, but irrelevant. Here's what's relevant.
Kucinich has been right about more than all of the other candidates combined---with the possible exception of Mike Gravel, two-time Senator from Alaska---who also finds himself belittled and shunted aside by the likes of Russert. Look at all Kucinich has been right about.
No WMDs in Iraq. No ties between Hussein and al-Qaida. Torture has proven to be not only immoral, it manifestly doesn't work. (Just Google Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi.). Shock & Awe was a criminal and immoral act. Invading and occupying Iraq was a terrible idea. Global warming is real. A government agency to promote peace and conflict resolution, something Kucinich has long advocated, might've prevented several wars past, present and future. The fact that Kucinich has little or no chance of winning the presidency should not detract from his wisdom regarding the biggest issues of our times.
Had Russert---a journalist who allowed Cheney to hype untrue stories on his network TV show---been even-handed over the years, I'd write his performance off as one in a long line of gutsy and entertaining lines of questioning.
For instance, had Russert bothered to ask George W. Bush, just once: "As a self-proclaimed born again Christian, you've been embraced by the Christian Right. Do you believe God is using you to bring about the Rapture and other End Time events?"