Sunday, July 29, 2007

"YouTube" Is Not The Issue; The Problem is CNN

Bloggers and pundits looking ahead to the next Republican debate between the presidential candidates are divided whether the candidates should show up for the game given the spectacularly embarrassing example of the Democrats answering YouTube questions on CNN.

Some argue that Republicans should preserve their dignity and, more importantly, the dignity and gravitas of the presidential primary selection process by avoiding the debate. Others argue that Republicans have a particular need this cycle to relate to ordinary voters and that by seeming to flee facing YouTube they will play into an elitist stereotype.

The problem isn't the slightly higher than normal distribution of idiots on YouTube. The problem is the nearly universal distribution of idiots at CNN. These are the folks who chose the YouTube questioners and questions for the Democrats to answer, thinking they were selecting questions either to reflect their perceptions of American voters or to jack the entertainment value of the debates, thereby reflecting their perceptions of… American voters. Either way, these folks shouldn't be trusted anywhere near a real news outlet and certainly shouldn't be trusted to choose questions to be answered by the next President.

Given the limited professional tool sets of the CNN reporters and the low likelihood that the network would allow intelligent, informed and, need I say it, Republican questioners to devise meaningful queries of the Republican candidates for the Republican primaries, then how might we improve the situation?

A different approach might be to follow the thinking Bill Buckley shared a few decades ago when he quipped that he would rather be governed by the first 2000 names in the Boston telephone book than by 2000 members of the Harvard faculty.

I suggest that the YouTube questions be drawn at random from among all those submitted.

Granted, there will be some that disappoint, but can it be any worse than we saw last week, with a snowman, and a Rodney King clone ("Why can't we all just get along?") looking for hugs from Chavez and Castro, Ahmadinejad and Assad, not to mention Kim? The questioner apparently didn't recall that Secretary Albright and Speaker Pelosi have danced that very dance with those devils on their backs, to no avail.

By standing up for "the right of the people to ask questions" without any filters imposed in Atlanta and New York, Republican candidates can take what PR high ground exists and probably enjoy more meaningful questions, as well.

It can't possibly be as bad as Chris Mathews, so what is there to lose?

Perhaps one day we can return to real debates, where candidates can argue the merits of their positions among themselves, rather than the vulgar soundbite slapdowns currently offered.

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