I wrote a few months back about my mixed reactions to this season’s episodes of FRONTLINE. The latest is their quadrennial biography of the two presidential candidates, The Choice 2008 (also free on iTunes). It’s well worth watching.
The first half of the show, which covers McCain and Obama’s early lives, is the more interesting, or at least less familiar. Frontline did a great job of digging up old videos. There’s a recording of McCain in the POW camp. There’s a recording of Obama giving a speech at Harvard Law in 1990. He looks different, but the cadence of his speech is eerily familiar. It’s also interesting to see speeches that McCain gave in the past. He’s noticeably more relaxed than he has been in the debates. A particular standout is his exchange with John Stewart in 2006.
My main problem with the episode was its lack of depth. This was more of a problem with the latter half, where I could see the gaps in their coverage of stories with which I was already familiar. The biggest questions they asked but left unresolved related to Reverend Wright. They said it was shocking that the Clinton campaign didn’t use him against Obama until after Super Tuesday, but never offered an explanation of why. I’ve often wondered this as well. If the Reverend Wright controversy had struck before Obama was ahead in delegates, Hillary might well be the nominee.