From a reader:
I’m not familiar with the Novak-walking-off-the-set issue, but it occurred to me recently that the reason I immediately turn off CNN as soon as they have two persons arguing politics is because, intuitively, I recognized the lack of parallelism in the persons they often choose. Robert Novak should debate Michael Kinsley; Ken Mehlman should debate Paul Begala.
I have no use for a guy who parrots a party or ideological line on every issue because I have no confidence that he is speaking his mind. Novak has more than his share of views with which I disagree, but he also – if left alone (he often takes the bait left by party hacks) – will criticize his “side” for this or that. Accordingly, his view on something is more credible because it tends to seem more like his actual view. I’ve often wondered what would happen if the guy on the “left” or “right” took a less than absolutist approach to a certain issue – if he was debating someone with integrity the likely result is that his opponent would move to the middle, too.
But what are you going to do when your opponent is railing about “treasonous liberals” or “Bush is the most corrupt President in history” or whatever? You instantly move to the other extreme. Better TV, but largely worthless TV – and great fodder for Jon Stewart.