Can you call it a debate when you don't actually address the arguments of your opponent?
North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory was on CNN's Crossfire this week, where former White House adviser and Crossfire co-host Van Jones asked a series of questions rooted in partisan ignorance and political populism.
I have to say I'm disappointed in the way the resurrected Crossfire has not yielded better debates. But then again, I'd be hard-pressed to defend progressive ideology, too.
If you have the time, I encourage you to watch the whole interview. It's a good case study in how progressives argue a topic.
For example, in the first segment, Jones leads off with criticism of McCrory and the NC Republican legislature's reduction of the Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits. (Starts at about the 2:15 mark)
Here's the transcript:
JONES: In your state, North Carolina, you actually cut almost more than almost any other state unemployment benefits, and it turned out to be a disaster. Didn't create more jobs. About 70,000 people just quit looking for work. How can you justify along with the rest of the Republican Party hurting unemployed Americans who are looking for work every day?
GOV. PAT MCCRORY (R), NORTH CAROLINA: Your speaking points are dead wrong.
JONES: Well, correct me.
MCCRORY: When I was elected last November and was sworn in on January 5, sworn at on January 6, our unemployment rate was the fifth highest in the nation, 9.4 percent. I had to take some immediate action to reduce unemployment. And that action resulted in the largest drop in unemployment in the country in North Carolina. We're now below 7 percent, 6.9 percent, the largest drop in unemployment. Now if you consider that to be a disaster --
JONES: Hold on a second now. I've looked behind these talking points. And your, talk about talking points.
MCCRORY: They're just facts. They're just facts. We were the fifth highest unemployment rate in the country, we're not even in the top 30 anymore.
JONES: The reason for that is not because so many people got jobs, but a lot of people quit looking. A lot of people don't understand when you're on unemployment you're getting paid to look for a job. And when you get that rug taken out from under you, people quit. Isn't it true that you have the biggest contraction in your labor force in your state's history because of your policies?
MCCRORY: No actually, our contraction is the same rate as the rest of the nation, in fact slight below the rest of the nation and you've got to look at the Baby Boomers. But the fact of the matter is, in the next month or two, we're going to have the first net increase in jobs in North Carolina in the past five years. I consider those very successful policies. This is a governor who's willing to make very tough decisions on unemployment, very similar to what the governor of Missouri had to do with unemployment just in 2011. He reduced the unemployment --
JONES: Are you applauding his strategy of devastating these unemployed workers?
GOV. JAY NIXON (D), MISSOURI: I'm not exactly sure what his strategy is. I know we're all working together as governors to try to create jobs and focus our attention on the best economic development tool there is, and that's education, whether it's preschool, high school, making college more affordable. Like -- we spend a lot of our time trying to make sure that people who want to get training get that training. We've got programs like shared work in Missouri so if you're unemployed you can get training at the same time. I think all of us, as governors, are trying to bring people together to improve themselves so we can work our way out.
Jones is oblivious to the argument McCrory makes - that the contraction in the labor force in NC is on par with that of the nation. I understand why Jones would not want to tie the reduction in workforce to the Democratic President, however.
So, instead he skips right past it, acting as if the Governor has not even spoken. The position Jones asserts initially (that the UI cut devastated the workforce) has been countered by McCrory. But Jones doesn't offer a rebuttal.
Instead, he turns to the Democratic Governor who offers platitudes about education being the key to reducing unemployment.
This is common.
Make the allegation, ignore the rebuttal, then offer an emotional slogan as if this will solve the problem.
McCrory does a good job in this interview - which is why the NC progressives haven't been beating the hell out him over it.