I had a dinner obligation last night, so I missed the debate. About 20 minutes in, my phone blew up. One friend texted me: “I want to shoot myself in the face” Then my normally calm dad called and left a voicemail ranting about what he was seeing. “We’re talking about Bill Ayers?”

Everyone should be clear about what’s happening here. First, Clinton’s only slim chance of victory is to attempt to destroy Obama in the eyes of the superdelegates, and if she has to cast herself as Richard Nixon, shamelessly stoking the reactionary tropes of a besieged silent majority to do it, she will. Second, this is precisely what the Republicans are going to try to turn this campaign into: a showcase of right-wing populism, a carnival of smears and trivinalia. The less said of the war, climate change, the economy and healthcare the better. They can’t win on any of those issues. They can only win if they can convince the press to obsess over some op-ed in a church bulletin.

The more time spent on all of this, the less time to cover the actual events of the world. That’s the basic terrain for this election: will the press pay attention to the vacuous idiocies of gaffes and guilt by association? Or will they pay attention to the world, a world in which things like this are happening while they nobly defend the class interests of households in the top 5% of income?

The results so far are not promising.