Monday, July 23, 2007

First YouTube/CNN Presidential Debate!

The first YouTube/CNN Presidential Debate - this one with the the Democrats - just concluded. I said I would wait until I saw it, to say how much of a revolution it was. Having seen it, I think it was revolutionary indeed - and, in fact, as much a leap forward in the debates and democracy as the first Presidential debates on television in 1960.

I don't ever recall seeing a debate in either party with such a refreshing, humorous, frank, and incisive a series of questions. The people asking the questions in the YouTube videos were far more on the money than any panel of experts.

And the candidates rose to the occasion with honest and important answers.

Barack Obama, when asked about whether he is a legitimate African-American candidate - given his access to power - quipped, "Ask the New York cabbies!" (African-Americans unfortunately have a tougher time getting a cab to stop for them and pick them up than Caucasian New Yorkers - I'm Caucasian, I've lived in New York all of my life, and maybe this problem has gotten a little better but it still exists).

Hillary Clinton, responding to a question about the election of Bush in 2000, responded that, actually, Bush was not elected President.

John Edwards, on health care, gave an impassioned plea for the need for all Americans to have it - he did this even though he had exceeded his time, and Anderson Cooper was trying to cut him off.

Joe Biden answered a YouTube question about gun control, asked by someone who was armed with an automatic weapon which he called his "baby". Answered Biden: if that's your baby, you need help....

And that's just a sampler.

Even Anderson Cooper, who did seem to unfairly cut off the minor candidates - such as Mike Gravel - more than the major, was in fine form tonight. The final questioner asked each candidate to cite something liked and disliked about the candidate to the left. Kucinich quipped that they there was no one standing to his left on the stage (true). Cooper replied - we tried to find someone to your left but there was no one...

There's nothing like the fresh of democracy to energize a debate, and give people clearer choices. There was concern, before the debate, about CNN exercising too much control in choosing the YouTube questions to be shown - I don't see how the choices could have been any better.

I'm looking forward to the Republican rendition of this fine experiment - which will become the norm - in September.

but added July 28: Republicans Now Thumb Noses at YouTube as Well as Evolution

And here's a July 26, 2007 article in the Houston Chronicle - "Debate Praised as Fresh and Original", in which I and other media commentators rave about the success of this first YouTube debate...
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