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Friday, July 27, 2007

The GOP and YouTube: Silliness Over Substance

In one of my email discussions with a friend, I had made the statement after watching the Democratic presidential candidates debate on YouTube, that they demeaned themselves.

In theory, it had sounded like a decent enough idea, but when I saw what was allowed, singers trying to get their 15 minutes of fame, a snowman asking questions, and yes, even my favorite part of it, Gun was silly.

I know that within my own party, there is disagreement about this subject, but I personally do not think the GOP should lower themselves they way the Democratic candidates did. (Heh, for once, I don't blame the Democratic candidates, because like I said above, in theory, it had sounded pretty good, but once I saw it, my mind changed quickly)

Nothing against YouTube here, but the office of President of the United States of America, the one remaining superpower in the world, should be taken more seriously than some of the stunts I saw being pulled on that night.

I fully understand and appreciate Patrick Ruffini's point, but respectfully disagree with him about likening this to the Democratic candidates being scared to do a Fox debate.

It isn't about which network is running the debate, in this case, it is about the "format", it is ridiculous.

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Maybe the network does have something to do with it by what they allowed the YouTubers to do, and if it were a typical debate being run by CNN and our Republican Presidential declined, then I would agree with him wholeheartedly, and I would encourage the Presidential candidates to think again.

But that is not the case.

Romney stated it well:

In an interview Wednesday with the Manchester (N.H.) Union Leader, Romney said he's not a fan of the CNN/YouTube format. Referring to the video of a snowman asking the Democratic candidates about global warming, Romney quipped, "I think the presidency ought to be held at a higher level than having to answer questions from a snowman."

Exactly. Having seen what was allowed with the Democratic debate, the GOP was in a better position to know what it would look like. Silliness prevailed when a very serious debate was called for.

If we do not learn by experience, or watching other peoples experience, then how smart would that make us?

Going through memeorandum to see who agrees with me, the first line of Hugh Hewitt's comment echoes my very thoughts on this:

The YouTube debate was a silly, and at times absurd exercise in giving air time to many idiots separated by an occasional responsible speaker, and the question selection by CNN demonstrated a huge left-wing bias which will inevitably appear in any subsequent YouTube debate organized by the MSM which is overwhelmingly staffed by the left.

I agree with this, but again, if it were just that it was a liberal network asking liberal questions, I would still encouarge the Republicans to do the debate...its that "silly" comment.

It is how many of us saw that debate, therefore the candidates in the debate were seen in the same light.


Patrick Ruffini and Hugh Hewitt are two men I respect greatly for their insight into todays issues and I can see both points of view, although I only partly agree with one of them on this issue.

They make a good example of how this issue is viewed by members of the supporters of the Republican candidates. Some of us think they should not lower themselves and others think it would be good for them.

A further example of the division on how this matter is seen within our own party is AllahPundit from Hot Air and Captain's Quarters, Allah believing it would be bad for the GOP to skip this debate and Captain Ed thinking the damage is limited.

Allah makes this point:

The debate Monday night was no worse than the three previous ones and even if it hadn’t been, having to endure two hours of talking snowmen is worth it given the endless mileage the Democrats would get from them skipping out. “The GOP can’t face the people, the GOP can’t handle unorthodox questions, the GOP has no sense no fun” — it’s a PR disaster in the making. Although I’m not surprised it’s Rudy who’s leading the way. Formats that don’t lend themselves to pat answers aren’t his strong suit.

Captain Ed makes this point:

I agree with Patrick that canceling the debate carries some political risk, but just as with the Democrats' snub at Fox, I think it's pretty limited. The general election will come 14 months after this debate has been scheduled. There will be plenty of time for other, more interactive debates both closer to the primaries and in the general election. Ask the Democrats if they're still feeling the damage from rejecting the Fox debate.

Besides, most if not all of these candidates hold town hall meetings with unscripted live questions all the time. It isn't a question of fear but of endorsing a "Let's Make A Deal" atmosphere that demeans the presidential race. For those too young to remember the long-running game show, it featured zany audience members dressed up and acting like idiots to get host Monty Hall's attention so that they could play the game. CNN turned the debate into a LMAD-like spectacle, where they encouraged inanity and childishness for a forum where serious matters should have been taken seriously. And for the most part, it resulted in asinine questions as well, as the transcript reveals.

Each making very good points.

Beltway Blogroll makes the point simply:

I was stunned Monday night when CNN let through its debate filter a question about global warming that a "snowman" had posted to YouTube for the Democratic presidential candidates gathered in Charleston, S.C.

The video was mildly amusing, and YouTube is the perfect forum for such silliness. But I hated that CNN aired the question for a few reasons.

First of all, it put to the lie CNN's contention that the network had to filter the content (rather than let Internet users pick their favorites) in order to avoid online videos that featured questions about cyborgs or people in costumes. Did CNN really see a distinction between someone asking a question in a chicken suit and putting a talking snowman in front of the camera? The average uninformed voter could have chosen a more informative question.

Second, using the snowman video to tackle global warming made a mockery of a hot-button policy issue. Debate moderator Anderson Cooper tried to explain that problem away by saying, "It's a funny video; it's a serious question." But the silliness overwhelmed the substance.

Well said.

Silliness overwhelmed substance and that is not something that should be allowed to be repeated from either side of the aisle, not if we, the people, are to take the office of President of the United States of America, and the process in which we choose our next one, with any seriousness whatsoever.

Don Surber says the silliness is "unpresidential and I agree 100%, it is.

Monday night’s CNN/YouTube debate among the Democrats was decidedly unpresidential. It was a ratings gimmick, meant to amuse more than inform.

Republicans are balking at the idea of facing talking snowmen. Good for them.

So, each argument has its merits and I believe that if the Republican Presidential candidates do turn this opportunity to be silly down, they should, indeed, make arrangements with a Liberal network to have a normal debate, a serious debate.

It should be made clear by them that it is the "format" not the "network" that they object to.

Many more are discussing this, keep up with the issue, it is interesting.