Let's get this straight. On Wednesday morning a new national poll revealed that 54% of Americans rate the economy as 'poor.' That's after nearly seven years of Barack Obama's big government solutions. Republicans, of course, are especially gloomy about the economy.
That was Wednesday morning, teeing things up for CNBC, the self-described 'world leader in business news.' Surely the moderators would flood the zone with substantive questions about the U.S. economy.
Instead, Becky Quick quizzed Marco Rubio about his 'lack of bookkeeping skills,' Carl Quintanilla posed questions about homosexuality and fantasy football, and the astonishingly incompetent John Harwood expressed doubt about Donald Trump's 'moral authority.'
To be fair, CNBC's triumvirate asked many questions about taxes and spending and deficits and Social Security, but way too many of those questions did not elicit solid answers. They seemed crafted to bring attention to the hosts, not the candidates.
So the post-debate analysis focused on the moderators and the undeniably liberal leanings of the mainstream media. Chris Christie, one of the night's stars, summarized the questions as 'snarky, divisive, non-substantive, and biased.' Our own Charles Krauthammer, a star on any night, called it 'the most appalling performance by moderators that I can remember.' Media bias is a very valuable subject, but in this case it overshadowed what was supposed to be the main subject, the dismal American economy.
And that economy is a mess! New data from the Social Security Administration show that 51% of working Americans made less than $30,000 last year, and 40% made less than $20,000! The key word is 'working.' Those stats don't even take into account the millions of Americans who are officially unemployed. Or those who have thrown in the towel and dropped out of the economy.
President Obama can boast that the unemployment rate is about 5%, but a stunning 40% of Americans are not in the labor force. That's the lowest participation rate since 1977, when 'Saturday Night Fever' and disco were all the rage.
Median income has gone down under Barack Obama's watch, partly because employers are getting hammered by Washington. Whatever you think about ObamaCare, it has thrown a yoke around the necks of the small and mid-sized companies that do much of the hiring.
Let's put this is stark terms. The median weekly wage when Barack Obama took office was slightly above $800. It is now slightly below $800. Going way, way back, household income is pretty much the same as it was in 1995. Two decades of stagnation! Sure, those dastardly one-percenters of Wall Street have done very well, especially in the age of Obama, but workers are taking it on the chin.
The administration always has a ready answer. When the first quarter slumped, the White House and its minions blamed it on the snow and cold weather. Perhaps they should hope that those dire 'climate change' warnings come true. Now we have news that third quarter economic growth was just 1.5%. Maybe it was too warm. Goldilocks come to mind?
No doubt we have a real problem with a moribund economy and it is especially tough on lower income Americans. And CNBC had an ideal opportunity to probe prospective presidents about their solutions. Instead, we got a self-serving panel asking questions designed to go viral.
The next GOP debate is coming up in a couple of weeks, again hosted by business-oriented concerns. This time it's Fox Business Network and the Wall Street Journal, both part of the family that includes Fox News.
You can certainly expect some tough questions from Neil Cavuto, Maria Bartiromo, and Gerard Baker. But their goal will be to elicit real answers about festering economic problems.
Fantasy football will not be part of the debate. Nor will Marco Rubio's student loans, Ben Carson's analysis of nutritional supplements, or whether Donald Trump is packing heat. Actually, if the candidates had been armed Wednesday night, their likely target would have been the CNBC logo draped around the auditorium. And the logo's peacock would probably be riddled with lead.
Any substantive moments in the Boulder debate were lost in the fog of war, a war that broke out between the candidates and the moderators. The Republican presidential hopefuls learned a lot this week. So did the upcoming debate moderators. Future debates will be more about the substance of the candidates, less about the style of the questioners. And that is good news for we the people.