Tuesday, July 24, 2007

YouTube wins the debate

It's certainly gotten the most positive press out of last night's Democratic debate, sponsored by CNN and YouTube. Good roundups here and here. I'll link to more good commentary as I find it during the day. My thoughts on it, having watched most of it: 1] Anderson Cooper did a pretty good job of following up on behalf of the YouTube questioners, trying to get the candidates to actually answer the questions. 2] Senator Clinton keeps implying that she has the most experience and that she's "ready to lead." Why does everyone unquestioningly accept this? What, serving as First Lady for 8 years prepares you to be president? Please; they're not the same jobs. Otherwise, she's served a little more than one term as a senator. 3] Ronald Reagan and his legacy lives! Senator Clinton still won't call herself a "liberal", a word Reagan the Republicans appear to have damaged fatally way back in the 1980s. Instead, she says she's a "modern progressive." 4] Barack Obama is quick, speaking strongly and confidently; he improved over his early debate performances, and gets across his main point, that he wants to promote broader change than does Clinton. 5] But Obama still makes mistakes, rather naively leaping to pledge that he'd meet in his first year as president with the leaders of Syria, Cuba, Iran, etc. Senator Clinton was much wiser on this, suggesting that one couldn't pledge to do that, that a president had to make sure he/she wasn't being taken advantage of for propaganda purposes, etc. Though, to be fair, Senator Clinton hasn't always spoken so clearly and unambiguously on this point. 6] Overall, clearly Senator Clinton was the target, as she remains the front-runner. You could see this by the shots the other top-tier candidates took at her, from John Edwards warning of the dangers of "triangulation" to Obama using Clinton's letter to the Pentagon as a way to criticize her as a latecomer to the antiwar movement. Will any of it derail the Clinton locomotive? It could; one still senses uneasiness with her among many Democrats. More as the day goes on. UPDATE: Ed Morrissey at Captain's Quarters points out that some of the questions from the YouTubers left, er, something to be desired. True; and let that always be a lesson: it's not just about the questions, it's about who PICKS the questions that'll get asked. And in any case, there's been too much hullaballoo about how new and cool the YouTube format is. What's so new about it? Yes, ordinary citizens could submit questions directly to the candidates and do so through glitzy videos with lots of techno sturm und drang. That's nice; but as for the meat of this debate, questioning the candidates, networks have been organizing "debates" at "town hall forums" attended by "ordinary citizens" who get to ask questions for decades now. Remember the 1992 presidential election? This CNN-YouTube debate did the same thing, just in a different format. Let's go easy on the oohing and aahing.