Thursday, November 29, 2007

On the GOP YouTube Debate

1. Playing Devil's advocate for a minute, why is it such a big deal that a Hillary operative got to ask the Republican candidates a question without disclosing his affiliation? Why does this render his question worthless? Should we exclude anybody who's aligned with a campaign?

2. Some of the questions were silly—the introductory song, the Bible, the Confederate flag—but I actually thought many of them were excellent: Specific, pointed and interesting.

3. Anderson Cooper did a poor job moderating: He failed to stop Rudy and Romney from monopolizing the debate's first five minutes; he allowed McCain to attack Ron Paul on foreign policy during a question about the fair tax; and, by deciding which candidates got which questions, he turned potentially hard-hitting questions into softballs (Huckabee, the former minister, on the Bible; Duncan Hunter, whom the NRA rates an A+, on gun control; Thompson, a self-declared federalist, on banning abortion at the federal level).

4. On Fred: (1) Interesting video, but surely it speaks poorly of him that he used his time to attack others instead of even mentioning—let alone touting—himself. (2) ATR documents his hypocrisy in taking an anti-amnesty pledge—during the debate—but refusing to take a no-new-taxes pledge. (3) It's inexcusable that a self-proclaimed federalist couldn't name three government programs he'd remove or reduce.

5. Why can't CNN enlarge the videos on its big screen?

Update: Ed Morrisey fleshes out my first point:

Bad journalistic practices? Definitely yes. But does that negate the questions themselves? I don't think so. The CNN/YouTube format closely parallels that of the traditional town-hall forum. For the most part, attendees do not get vetted at these events either, nor should they. After all, while a primary usually involves voters of one party, the entire nation has a stake in the selection of the nominees. If Hillary Clinton held a town hall in my community, I should have an opportunity to question her about her positions on issues without pledging a loyalty oath to do so.