Bill Kristol guested on The Daily Show last night, giving way to a lively and rather fascinating exchange. The conversation’s general takeaway: that partisan rhetoric—especially when it comes to the hyperbolic treatment of Obama’s so-called “association with terrorists”—is to some extent a smokescreen.

STEWART: You have said about Obama that it’s fair game to talk about his radical associations. But one of the things you don’t like about him is he’s too conventional. Now isn’t that somewhat at odds?
KRISTOL: No, I think he made it through some fairly radical associations, but he actually is—I don’t think he’d be very a radical president. In fact, I think he’ll disappoint a lot of people on the left because he’ll be a conventionally liberal president. And if you’re a liberal, you should be for Obama, and if you’re conservative, you should be for McCain. It’s not a psychodrama, it’s just an election.
STEWART: No. It’s just an election! Yeah, what could happen?

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Megan Garber is an assistant editor at the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University. She was formerly a CJR staff writer.