Most Republican Presidential Candidates Nix YouTube Debate

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There were loads of news stories about the pioneering CNN/YouTube run debate several days ago which featured Democratic Presidential wannabies. Perhaps those stories scared away many of the Republicans who also are pining for Oval Office job:

Four days after the Democratic debate in Charleston, S.C,. more than 400 questions directed to the GOP presidential field have been uploaded on YouTube — targeted at Republicans scheduled to get their turn at videopopulism on Sept. 17.

But so far, only Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) and Rep. Ron Paul (Tex.) have agreed to participate in the debate, co-hosted by Republican Party of Florida in St. Petersburg.

“Aside from those two candidates, we haven’t heard from anyone else,” said Sam Feist of CNN, who’s co-sponsoring the debate with the popular videosharing site.

Ron Paul will get some viewers. And McCain at this point needs all the viewers he can possibly reach. (Perhaps the exposure will even help him recruit a new campaign staff).

Rudolph Giuliani and Mitt Romney, both with dozens of videos on their YouTube channels, have not signed up. Neither have the rest of the Republican candidates, including Rep. Tom Tancredo (Colo.), whose “Tancredo Takes” on his YouTube channel draw hundreds of views. Sources familiar with the Giuliani campaign said he’s unlikely to participate. Kevin Madden, Romney’s spokesman, said the former Massachusetts governor has seven debate invitations covering a span of 11 days in September.

This is the best quote of all:

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.”

But the snowman did elicit some answers.

Perhaps HE should be brought in by Congress to question Attorney General Alberto Gonzales!

There could be several factors — and consequences — at play here:

(1) This isn’t a happy time for Republicans. The candidates CLEARLY don’t want to participate not because of fears of snowballs –but hardballs. You can’t CONTROL questions from YouTubers.

(2) The typical YouTube participant would probably veer more to the left than most of the GOP candidates. Most likely that is why many of the candidates have turned thumbs-down on the debate.

(3) In the long run, not participating could be a mistake. Once again Republicans seem to be thinking only of their base. True, that’s what matters in primaries. But in the television age these primary debates help a national audience comprised of voters who might not be part of the base form impressions of candidates.

(4) The night of the debate the story will NOT be about how Republicans participated in this New Era debate, but how many of them stayed away from it. Stories will note how much more freewheeling and populist YouTubers’ questions are. And it will give the impression that the candidates had something to fear by common (if in some cases geeky) computer users getting to ask candidates questions. It’ll fit in with the image of a White House that is refusing to turn over information to Congress. And these images could mesh and hurt the party in the long run.

(5) YouTube is generational and some younger voters will interpret this as meaning the Republican candidates were just too old fashioned and old fogeyish to participate in (or “get”) the new media.

(6) Ron Paul will continue to pick up supporters. McCain still won’t have a prayer.

  • superdestroyer

    The downside for the Republicans is that it is not Youtube but it is CNN that will be choosing the questions. It is easy for the Democratic candidates to answer questions from voters asking what will the government do to spending more money. It is much harder for the Republicans.

    However, it is time for the Republicans to finally find an articulate candidates who has a full grasp of the issues and who can articulate a conservative point of view and can do it quickly.

  • Lynx

    Fear hardballs? Nah, the democrats got plenty of direct questions by people and handily answered with fairly standard talking points. I don’t see why the republicans couldn’t do the same. The real problem is that there are going to be literally LOADS of questions that ask them exactly how much they stand with Bush on issues, most especially the war. It’s sticky for them because the closer they are to Bush, the less people will like it, but they can’t out and out rebel, as that would be seen as disloyal to the public.

    Doesn’t matter much, I think, I doubt very many conservative voters will make up their mind with a youtube and CNN event, as they would assume liberal bias in the whole proccess (and considering the left vs. right ratio on youtube, they’d be right).

  • superdestroyer

    Why am I not surprise that individual who have been carrying the Democrats water in turning down a debate sponsored by Fox will now be criticizing the Republicans for not wanting to answer left-of-center questions hand picked by CNN?

  • cosmoetica

    Romney said it best, and it’s another example of R elitism. As if the Prez is so important to ignore the water-based constituency.

  • Pete Abel

    Joe — for what it’s worth, I think all of your predictions are spot on. But unless I missed it reading too fast, you should have included this observation among your notes,namely, the irony that the two oldest candidates among the R contingent are open to this while one of the youngest (Romney) takes a pass. Generational? Maybe not so much.

  • C Stanley

    Politically it would be a mistake for the GOP candidates to opt out of this, but I think that a lot of the questions chosen were inane. We’re still more than a year away from the election and I’m already disgusted at how the media chooses fluff over substance. Will we ever get a format that forces straight answers and allows time for follow up questions instead of hype and soundbite opportunities? The candidates produce enough of that on their own, they don’t need any help.

  • kritter

    Since the YouTube format directly connects these candidates with voters of all stripes, and sometimes includes follow-up (making it harder for them to dance around the questions) I am not surprised that they are choosing to avoid it altogether. They might have to face voter anger for Republican policies or for their continued support for a disasterous engagement in Iraq (except for Paul).

    BTW,SD, Many Republicans, including Cheney, Bush, and McCain, have consented to be interviewed by CNN’s Wolf Blitzer who is about as impartial a moderater as they come. What are they really afraid of? (I think I mentioned the real reason in the paragraph above, lol) This is what people mean when they say politicians are out of touch!

  • kritter

    Are the same people who attacked the Dems for avoiding the Fox debates attacking the GOP for avoiding this debate?

  • NH

    Romney is not young — only about 8 years younger than Ron and McCain, he just has a good hairdresser.

    This can only be good for Ron Paul who is honest and NOT AFRAID of any of the questions thrown to him.

    Anyway, McCain is out of the race about now and Ron is gaining daily. He owns YouTube/Google, so he will just do well, as I said, because he is honest and true and not afraid to answer questions.

    I saw Fred T on Hannity last night — what a big loser he is!

    Go Ron Paul!

  • superdestroyer

    Wolf Blitzer cannot make a video claiming to be a victim and demanding that the government give him something. What the Republican, correctly, know is that CNN will pick videos that go: I am a fill in the blank (lesbian, father of a sick child, widow, elderly person, black man) and I am suffering. I demand that the government give me fill in the blank (goodies, benefits, special privledges). Will you give me those goodies or are you a heartless bastard?

    The Republicans need to find away to counter the victim card and thus should go on the Youtube Q&A on CNN. However, the Republican candidates have to go in knowing that the potential downside is much greater than the potential upside.

    Also, the question is come from all people and thus few of the questions will be relevent to Republican primary voters.

  • kritter

    Well, maybe that means they really are heartless bastards.

  • C Stanley

    You’ve just proven how well the “so, sir, when exactly did you stop beating your wife” meme works.

    And yes, many of the same people who dissed the Dems for ducking Fox will criticize the GOP if they don’t show up for this debate. That’s why I said I think it will be politically a mistake to skip it; in fact I wouldn’t be surprised if the comments thus far have been trial balloons and with negative reactions coming out we may see candidates suddenly finding room in their schedules.

    If the debate does happen, I wonder if CNN will choose a video from a caricature of a far left liberal voter just as they did with the guys pretending to be hillbillies a la Deliverance who asked about the candidate’s feelings about Al Gore (what an insightful question that was, too…boy, I really feel better knowing the candidates response to that all important question).

  • kritter

    So far I’m not hearing the criticism, CS. I remember the talking point after the Dems skipped the Fox debate was- how can they face our enemies if they won’t even face FNC? I think the same applies here. Let them defend their viewpoints to an unfriendly audience- the voting public

    . BTW- I was mostly addressing SD’s comment, who supported avoiding the debate.

  • superdestroyer


    I never said that the Republicans should skip. I can understand the ideas behind skipping but I think the Republicans should go. However, they should immediately begin to lower expectations. They should question CNN’s fairness. They should request that the videos address likely Republican concerns and not be far left of center. They should also ask for more concrete issues like immigration that were skipped in the first debates.

    I think such a debate would be good for ridding the Republicans of empty suits such as Thompson and Romney.

  • Rudi

    CS says: but I think that a lot of the questions chosen were inane.
    And much of the politicians sound bites and legislation isn’t INANE. The meme about political and media elites applies to both parties.

    SD – What about the report from the other day about over a BILLION dollars payed out to dead farmers. These weren’t Demonocrat voters on Chicago. I wonder if Cheney still gets tax breaks and subsidies for his Wyoming ranch?

  • superdestroyer


    I would guess that more of the people receiving subsidies were DFL members than blue collar Republicans. Many of the farm subsidies were paid to farmers in blue states like Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and California.

    Of course, since the Bush Administration totally abandon fiscal conservatism, does it really matter that both parties are spend-thrifts.

  • kritter

    SD- I agree that they should go- but it defeats the purpose of YouTube to cull the questions so that only Republican concerns are addressed.

    IMO, both parties should be able to address hardball questions from any voter. Not to do so reminds me too much of the presidential “press conferences” where the questions are vetted in advance with the CIC, so that he never gets any nasty surprises, and can answer them easily. It also smacks of the divisiveness of campaign rallies where only supporters are allowed in. Its anti-democratic.

  • Lynx

    CS, though there were a few silly moments I think that the questions at the debate were usually about issues that really matter to people, even if they were often asked in creative ways. I can recall questions about:

    – Iraq war policy
    – Taxes
    – Gun policy
    – Gay Marriage
    – Church-State separation
    – Global Warming
    – Negotiations/diplomacy with hostile nations
    – Bipartisanship
    – Healthcare
    – Stem cell research

    Yes there were some silly ones (the worst being the question about Hillary being female and Obama being black) but many were spot on. No, the questions were not the problem, it was the ANSWERS that were lacking, for the most part. The answers were less impressive the more the candidate had a shot at nomination. Well, except for Gravel, he has NO chance and comes across as being insane.

  • superdestroyer

    What is the point of calling it a Republican debate if the questions any up being from partisan Democrats who are playing the victim card. Does such partisan questions help Republican voters vote in a primary. Does it help the candidates address the issues instead of make them all develop the faux-empathetic gimick?

    It is one thing to answer hard question. It is quite another to be able to handle the victim card. Leftist activist are experts at playing the victim card and it is played often because it works. It makes conservatives look mean and it avoids all of the associated issues with any propose solution. A Democrats just gets up and says I will give you free healthcare, free college, free housing, social security benefits, etc. No questions about deficits, negative effects, or how it affects others. Just promise the self-proclaimed victim what they want.

    John Edwards’s proposal to bring back forced busing is a perfect examle of how answering the partisan victim does not really answer the question. For every individual benefited, another individual is punished under such a program.

  • C Stanley

    You don’t think the questions that were chosen for the Dem debate reflected mostly Democratic voter concerns?

    As to your comment about not seeing negative response from conservative bloggers, here’re two examples (some other bloggers aren’t criticizing the GOP if they pull out, but at least some are; correct me if I’m wrong but I don’t remember any liberal bloggers saying that the Dems were wrong to diss Fox).

    Rick Moran:

    The GOP is in crisis because it has no leadership, no agenda, and is failing the test of history. It’s principles have crashed on the shoals of expediency and arrogance. It insists on putting its social agenda front and center in the mistaken belief that Americans care more about preventing gay people from getting married then whether they’ll have a job in six months. Or how in God’s name we’re going to get out of Iraq without leaving a bloody mess.

    Stay away from the debate and the American people will judge you cowards. The press will see to that. Stand up like men, take your lumps, give back as good as you get, don’t fear the unknown, and move forward.

    and Patrick Ruffini:

    This is a big mistake. The Democrats are afraid to answer questions from Big Bad Fox News Anchors, and the Republicans are afraid to answer questions from regular people. Which is worse?

    It’s stuff like this that will set the GOP back an election cycle or more on the Internet. No matter the snazzy Web features and YouTube videos they may put up, if they’re fundamentally uncomfortable with the idea of interacting with real people online, what’s the point?

    Having spent the better part of a decade working at the intersection of politics and the Web, I can’t help but feel of a deep, deep sense of dismay that we’re missing something so basic. This is EXACTLY why I am afraid that we will be outraised by $100 million or more in 2008.

    Yes, some of the questions on Monday were trivial. Yes, they were partisan. (I expect many of the 9/17 questioners to be partisan Republicans.) Yes, they were messy. But so is democracy. And the fact that some place so much faith in the broken mainstream media over a benign format like this one says a lot about the difficult straits the Republicans are in right now.

  • truflo


    On a purely political level, dodging Fox will have little effect on the Democrats chances of taking the presidency, as the only people still watching Fox are from the 28% who , unless Bush beats up on their dog or something, will continue to support him or any who are prepared to look and/or act like him.

    Independents and thinking conservatives have long since changed channels, They understand there can be little to no future for a party who produce a possible presidential candidate willing to suggest we double the size of GITMO, or liken walking in Baghdad to walking through a summer market in down-town Detroit, or who is happy to continue the fear-mongering and futile flag-waving as though it were some kind of thought out response to the war on terror. Its not, and we’re tired, and Fox has long since jumped the shark.

    If the republican candidates haven’t worked this out yet, then what business would they have running a country.

  • kritter

    SD- You see it as lefties playing the victim card- but I see it as Republicans having to face the human side of their Horatio Alger governing philosophy, all the while braying about their ‘Christian’ family values.

    And I might add that prominent Republicans have no problem portraying themselves as victims- ie Scooter Libby- victim of overzealous prosecutor, Tom DeLay- same, Gonzales- victim of partisan Democrats in Senate, David Vitter- victim of overzealous press corps who camp on his doorstep to cover what should be a private matter, lol.

  • C Stanley

    Your list includes most Democratic voter concerns and the questions asked them in ways that allowed the candidates to answer the questions to their favor (Iraq policy, for example was discussed on how quickly to withdraw, not what will happen if/when we do withdraw and how the candidate proposes to stem that damage).

    And as SD notes, many questions allowing the candidates to give an easy “I feel your pain” answer without real substance.

    And I’d say there were quite a few silly questions: Who was your favorite teacher, say something nice about your opponents, etc.

    I agree though that the biggest problem was that once again the format allowed the candidates to give vacuous answers with little followup, even when a substantive question was asked.

  • C Stanley

    Truflo: this has been refuted time and time again with stats on the demographics of Fox viewers, but go ahead and keep repeating it because I’m sure for some people repetition makes it true:

    On a purely political level, dodging Fox will have little effect on the Democrats chances of taking the presidency, as the only people still watching Fox are from the 28% who , unless Bush beats up on their dog or something, will continue to support him or any who are prepared to look and/or act like him.

  • truflo


    I meant the news programmes, not The Simpsons (I know, its hard to tell the difference sometimes, but here’s a hint- one depicts a fictional world and the other’s just been made into a movie) . But, please, feel free to continue thinking a vast and varied viewership exists for Fox, and lets hope the Republican wanabe presidents think likewise and boycott CNN confident that these magical Fox stats will see them home. They’d be fools to boycott CNN, just as the Dems would be fools to debate on Fox where Arlen Specter is a Democrat

  • Rambie

    SD: “…they should immediately begin to lower expectations. They should question CNN’s fairness. They should request that the videos address likely Republican concerns and not be far left of center. They should…”

    SD, that means you don’t want a debate, you want a scripted and rehearsed infomercial that LOOKS like a debate. No, a debate is where questions come in cold, the candidate should be prepared to talk about ANY subject that comes up, not just ones they want to talk about.

  • kritter

    CS- I actually am approaching this as a citizen. I think both sides should be able to answer questions from either party. I am against preselecting the questions according to party doctrine for both Democrats and Republicans.

    If there was a You-tube question for the Democrats about Bush’s tax cuts, the future of social security, or about the true cost of liberal policies like universal health care, I’d be all for it. It only makes us weaker and more divided to edit according to each party’s prospective audience.

  • Rambie

    Truflo, the Dems were stupid to pass on the Fox debate, just as the Republicans are if they skip this one.

    CS, I still say the candidats should NOT be able to pick-and-choose their debate questions nor the topics. That’s the whole point of a debate is to debate topics you DISAGREE on.

  • superdestroyer


    The Democrats did not get questions from Republicans. They were given easy, feel your pain questions. Notice that immigration was not addressed at the Democrats debate.

    I did not say that the Republicans should be given their request but if I was a handler, I would tell them to immediately start talking about the problems with the format and begin to lower expectations. The candidates should also say what they feel are real subjects and say that they hope that CNN finds questions in those areas such as immigration, crime, education, transportation, energy, instead of the “I am a victim and I want some goodies” non-questions that have been the bane of Republicans since 1992.

  • Lynx

    CS, going down the list I think that the issues are things that most everyone, democrat or republican, can be concerned about, even if they have very different ideas on the direction things need to take. The videos selected for questions were mostly (not all, remember the man with his “baby” or the singing tax man) coming from people with clear democratic leanings, and their questions were framed as such. To be fair videos selected for the republican debate would have to be mostly from people with republican leanings, whose questions denoted that. Even so, they naturally will have a harder time, especially with Iraq, since almost no one, including Republicans, is pleased with that situation.

  • kritter

    SD- How do you know none of the questions came from Republicans? Are you saying that all of the questions were about perpetrating Democratic victimhood? I think you’re generalizing a bit, altho I concede that most questions were generated by Democrats or Indies.

    The GOP can’t win elections only answering to the base after Bush- so they should find a way to answer even questions they aren’t comfortable with.

  • truflo


    The Fox news organisation believes the surge is going swimmingly, Barack Obama was schooled by terrorists, the Clintons killed Vince Foster, the AG is a swell guy as honest as the day is long, that Arlen Specter is a democrat and our cities are being overrun by lesbian gangs waving pink pistols.

    68% of the country doesn’t.

    I think the dems will do just fine without Fox.

  • superdestroyer

    The Republicans cannot win elections answering only their base (unlike the Democrats0 but the Republicans cannot stay relevent in politics by always doing the things that give the Democrats the advantage. Trying to answer I am a victim question will always be easy winners for the Democrats. Almost any boilerplate answer will either cause problems for the Republican candidate or show them to be a phoney.

    Many public communication consulting firms will tell you that the activist will always be a few steps ahead and have already anticipated your answer and have response ready to go.

  • Rambie

    SD, I’m not as omnipotent as you so I can’t say. I will agree that the questions seemed more “softball” than I would have liked. I

    t seems that both sides do not want to question their assumptions, which is what a good debate should do.

  • Rambie

    Truflo, yes Fox News is right of center the the GOP “victim card” of a “liberal and biased media” is getting old.

    However, that doesn’t mean they should have rejected the debate just as the Republicans shouldn’t reject this one.

  • kritter

    SD- As I noted before, the GOP never minds victimhood of its own—DeLay, Vitter, Nixon, Scooter Libby, Gonzales- all have tried to portray themselves as victims of overzealous prosecutors, or of political witchhunts.

    Republicans (as Rambie noted) love to hear about how they have been bamboozled by the left-leaning MSM, and how they are the victims in the War on Christians. Republicans will die out as a party if they don’t learn to bridge the gaps and broaden their appeal beyond Christian conservatives and war hawks.

  • truflo


    You’re too kind. They’re right at the centre of the GOP. God knows in what direction those talking points are actually going. Didn’t some intern working for them just recently, again, misspell Obama’s name? And, hey, that’s OK, its their right to champion whomsoever they wish, but only a dummy would subject themselves to a debate run by the opposition. If the republicans place CNN on the same plain, fine, don’t participate. In fact, I would encourage them not to. The more marginalized this present bunch of rubberstamping filibusters become the better for democracy as far as I’m concerned.

  • casualobserver

    I can appreciate the “political activist” mindset sees something like this as a watershed, but don’t totally lose touch with reality.

    Included in the latest viewership numbers were 407,000 viewers in the coveted adults 18-34 demographic…………..Among adults 25-54, another prized demo, the YouTube debate averaged 890,000 compared with 1.1 million for CNN’s New Hampshire debate.

    Number of votes cast in 2004 Presidential election…………..122,293,332

  • domajot

    I see that the talking points strategy has worked so well, people actually think in bite size sloganeering terms.

    VICTIM CARD? What does that even mean in real life? There are real victims, you know. There are victims of governemtn policies and societal policies, and there have been since the dawn of time. Using the word ‘victim’ to attack is tantamount to using racial or sexist slurs IMO.
    If our policies prevent people from receiving adequate helth care, then they are rhe victims of those policies.
    What is the implication? No matter how the government screws you, just shut up, because being a victim disqualifies you from voicing your concerns?
    Oddly, when conservatives talk about taxes, they have no problem with self-identifying as victims, and so another PR slogan is born: wealth distribution. Come to think of it, Democratic strategists could do worse than throwing the victim card right back at Republicans.

    How about people concerns? If some concerns are perceived as being Democratic, it’s because Democrats are willing to address them. If the Republicans want to be included in the discussion, all they have to do is address the issues.

    People speak about what affects their lives. Rpublicans limiting themselves to talking to only a narrow sector of lives, are responsible for the consequences – not YouTube quesioners.

  • superdestroyer

    The victim card has been around for decades. However, it has become standard practice with many activist. A classic example is during public meetings an activist acting as a citizen stands up and claims that they have been poison by some other actor and that they demand help with their problem such as someone who cancer and claims that the local refinery, chemical plant, factory is the only possible cause.

    If the owners/operators claim that they did not cause the harm, the activist claim that they are ducking responsibility. If the operators claim that they will not give the activist what they want, they are called heartless and cruel.

    Once a person claims to be a victim, many people will empathize with them and will not hold the person in judgement. We have all seen smokers claim to be a victim of big tabacco and refuse to taken any responsbility.

    Most communication consultants dread the victim argument because it cannot be answered quickly unless you just give them whatever they want.

    However, politicians are suppose to make hard decisions instead of telling people whatever they want.

  • kritter

    Looking at it from a practical point, the Republicans will be the underdogs in ’08. So, I’m wondering how many segments of the population they can afford to write off.

    I guess they can afford to forget about the black vote, since they dissed the NAACP- not their base right? And Hispanics might be a little annoyed about their immigration rhetoric. Now I assume they realize that gays and lesbians won’t be rushing out to vote GOP or feminists or atheists or Muslims.

    Now, they decide that only younger people who don’t really vote anyway (and when they do vote Democratic) really use You-tube or watch CNN. And, of course, anyone who hasn’t profitted in the last 7 years from Bushonomics is just a parasite, whining about their victimhood.

    Maybe they ought to think about widening their base before they become as extinct as a brontosaurus, lol!

  • kritter

    ‘However, politicians are suppose to make hard decisions instead of telling people whatever they want.’

    Like promising to double the size of Gitmo? Or promising not to take nukes off the table in our conflict with Iran? Or saying that all of the socially liberal positions you took to win a liberal state are no longer your official positions? What about Gingrich who promised Liberty University to work towards Christianizing the nation? Or pledging to close the borders?

    My point is that politicians all pander to their audiences- whether they believe in what they’re saying or not. The GOP base gets galvanized when you talk about flag-burning, banning gay marriage ,revoking Roe v Wade and closing down the borders. So that’s what their candidates tell them.

  • PWT

    Where is this ‘moderate voice’ that I keep hearing about? Perhaps moderately fanatical moon-bat would be a better title for this blog. I have yet to see any moderately republican or libertarian sentiment expressed. This posting seems to come from far left field, (possibly from under the bleachers) and it seems that its only purpose is to bash republicans. I expect more.

  • ChuckPrez

    Exchanges like this are exactly why I’m beginning to detest both sides of the political spectrum in this country. Honestly I don’t like ANY of the candidates in this election…on EITHER side. Y’all liberaservative Republicrats are one in the same…so concerned about YOUR side of the issue that you’ll do anything to thwart the other side. I’m tired of the grandstanding. Noone is even wondering how we got here and waht we can do to change things…on a HIGH level…looking at the past 60 years and realize the snowballing effect BOTH SIDES have created to put ourselves in this hole we’re currently in right now. Y’all should be ashamed.

  • Davebo

    Wolf Blitzer cannot make a video claiming to be a victim and demanding that the government give him something. What the Republican, correctly, know is that CNN will pick videos that go: I am a fill in the blank (lesbian, father of a sick child, widow, elderly person, black man) and I am suffering.

    Is CNN picking the question in the GOP debate? And if so, why didn’t they choose the question in the dems debate (You Tube did).

    I know you are proned to knee jerk reactions based on no knowledge and all, but seriously..

  • Davebo

    My apologies to SDS, it was indeed 5 CNN employees choosing the questions. I’m not sure where I got the idea that youtube was picking them.

    I’m sorry SuperDestroyer (and a bit embarrassed!)

  • Rambie

    PWT, “Where is this ‘moderate voice’ that I keep hearing about?”

    Pot, meet Kettle.

  • kritter

    PWT-I don’t think moderate voice means that only moderates comment here- there are all stripes and persuasions.

    Also, I wouldn’t assume that anyone who thinks the GOP needs to attract new voting blocs is a moonbat.

    If that were true, we’d be hoping that they stagnate and die out so that one-party rule would prevail. I seriously doubt anyone here wants that. To me permanent Democratic rule would only encourage the corruption we had under 12 years of Republican rule.

  • Chris

    This whole “victim card” from SD smells like BS.

    Electoral politics are about showing that you’re the right person to solve problems, and if there are problems there are likely victims.

    And don’t “Republican issues” have victims too?

    “I’m horrified that Jim and Bill are kissing!!!”

    “That brown guy stole my job!!!”

    “My taxes are too high!!!”

    “The government wants to take away my guns!!!”

  • domajot

    SD said:
    “The victim card has been around for decades. However, it has become standard practice with many activist.”
    However, everyone does it, not just Democracts.
    The whole “war on God’ campaign was one big victim card, i.e., if I don’t get my way, then you are attacking me. The ‘wealth distribution’ slogan is a huge victim card: “they’re taking my weatth. Help”

    There is an open season on abusing victimhood.
    Abuses should be called out. Smearing one party with a denigrating lebel is inexcusable.

    Besides, the process is destroying the English language, where words no longer mean what they mean but are hjacked to be used as a specific political attack.

  • C Stanley

    I missed a lot of this while out today, but in response to Rambie’s comment directed to me: I have never said that the questions should reflect things that the candidates want to answer. But the fact is that during primary season, it’s more appropriate to ask the Dems questions about the particular thing that Democratic voters want to know, and vice versa for the GOP. My take on that may have been confusing because I was pointing out to Kim and Lynx that I felt that most of the questions did lean that way in the CNNYouTube debate- and that part of it doesn’t concern me (the frivolous questions were incredibly time wasting though).

    My feeling though is that when it comes to the GOP, the questions will STILL have a left of center leaning. Some people will feel that’s appropriate since anger at Bush has led many people to tilt that way anyway, but it still means we won’t have a discussion based on conservative philosophy and concerns which would be more appropriate for a GOP primary debate. You’ll have candidates trying to earn conservative cred on social issues, but on true fiscal conservatism or a return to the more realistic foreign policy of past GOP administrations, not so much.

  • Rambie

    I missed a lot of this while out today, but in response to Rambie…

    I’m sorry CS, I meant to put SD instead and didn’t even notice… again, my apologies.

    I’ll agree with you that there were plenty of frivolous quests in that debate. Some of the topics are what I’d like them to discuss but the questions were not thought out well.

    That the problem with the other major debates from the past several election cycles. There are no tough questions that really challenge a candidates stance on the issue at question. Most of them are allowed to just squirm away without really having to give a definitive answer.

    I’m talking about both Left and Right here.

  • domajot

    CS said:
    “,,,when it comes to the GOP, the questions will STILL have a left of center leaning.”
    Why are questions about health care or how to resolve the Iraq war left of center?
    Don’t Republicans worry about how to acess health care or how the war will end?

    The questions relfect what’s on people’s minds
    The answeres are up to the candidtes, and they can answer according to whatever political leanints they espouse.
    I don;t understand why you focus on the questions and not the spectrum of possible answers.

  • C Stanley

    No problem, Rambie.

    I agree with you on the vapidity of this and almost all presidential debates. I’d love to see William F. Buckley moderate a GOP primary debate, and for serious liberal/progressives to nominate someone similar to moderate the Dems- and then the two of them co-moderate the general election debates after the primaries are over (could also include questioner to raise relevant issues and philosophical questions for Libertarians, Green party voters, or any other third party that gets on the ballot in enough states). And when I say that the questions come from a questioner who has a particular political/philosophical leaning, for the general election my point is that ALL of the candidates would then have to answer all of those questions- so that a Dem would be answering questions that are important to conserative/Republican leaning voters, and a GOP candidate would have to answer on issues important to liberal/Democratic leaning voters. Instead of pandering then, they’d have to explain how their policies could still be embraced by people from both sides of the political spectrum; and with the addition of third parties, we’d also hear answers to how the two mainstream parties would address the issues that have led people to consider the alternative parties/candidates.

    Some folks are also pushing for a bloggers debate, which might be interesting as well- though I imagine there would be lots of fighting over which bloggers get to participate.

  • kritter

    I have to agree with Doma- that left or right- certain issues should concern all of us and need to be addressed by both parties- I’m tired of watching theatrical performances with each party’s candidates playing to their perceived strengths, while ignoring their weaknesses. Whether or not you are an or a D, you should be worried about finding renewable energy sources, improving our schools, stabilizing social security,responding to the enormous challenges of terrorism and global warming, providing reasonable access to quality health care, and finding an exit strategy for Iraq.

    When you watch a Democratic debate-there’s little discussion beyond a prescription for diplomacy about the regional war that is now brewing in the ME. When you watch a Republican debate there’s no mention of the real problem of global warming. These problems will affect us no matter what our party affiiation is.
    I guess I’m comprehending the impetus behind Unity ’08, though still seeing pitfalls as well, unfortunately.

  • domajot

    I really didn’t get an answer to my queery as to why some questions (not the answers) are ‘left’ or ‘right’.

    Prescriptions for the perfect debate sound good, but that’s another subject and doesn’t answer why the questions themselves are seen as being partisan.
    Are there some things each party would rather not talk about in public?

    One important question that i would life to ask concerns earmarks and lobbyists, for example. Both parties are acting badly in this regard, so would this question be a ‘left’ or a ‘right’ question?
    What about Iraq? Is that ‘left’ or ‘right’?

  • C Stanley

    Are there some things each party would rather not talk about in public?

    I think that is absolutely the case. Certain issues are avoided altogether by one party or the other, while others are the issues on which they can easily score points with the voters. The base for each party has different primary concerns and a much different perspective on the problems of the country. This can easily be manipulated, and certain types of questioning allow one ‘side’ or the other to appeal to their base while also hooking in some independent voters and avoiding alienation of all but the hardcore base of the opponent’s party.

    There’re two factors at work: one is that certain groups of voters have more interest and concern on certain issues and have a particular mindset about how problems can be best addressed. So, a questioner who has a bias and wants to help one party or one candidate win a debate (and this could be either a conscious or an unconscious desire to help) will tend to stick to the “easy” issues for the party he/she favors and the harder ones for the opponent(s).

    The second factor is that when this hypothetical biased questioner poses certain questions to both parties or candidates, he can lob a soft one at his favored candidate and a much tougher version of the question to the other(s). Or, he might let the answers of his preferred candidate stand while challenging the others with tougher followup.

    My preference is that ALL questions should be tough and probing, with vigorous followup that is designed to highlight the different approaches of all of the candidates. If a candidate makes a proposal that sounds great on the surface, the questioner should play devil’s advocate; for example, if the candidate proposes a program to combat poverty, followup questions should force him/her to also divulge the expected costs of the program and defend the cost effectiveness of it. If a candidate talks about reducing taxes, he/she should be asked whether or not he/she would run up deficit spending in order to maintain tax cuts, if spending was deemed necessary as in our current state of war.

    It seems almost universal that these candidates are permitted to pretend that they have simple answers to very complex problems. We should ask them to defend their proposals, always playing devil’s advocate to their pat answers.

  • kritter

    I agree about playing devil’s advocate on tough issues, CS. Too often we are buying the image that political consultants are selling us. Usually it is an idealized, one with a consistent political viewpoint. But the real deal is usually much more complex and it is much more difficult to reconcile the perception with reality.

    I watched some of the Senate debates on Meet the Press for the ’06 election, and felt like Tim Russert did a fairly good job of asking hardball questions with follow-up. But, he only had to interview two candidates- unlike the 8-10 that are usually in front of us.

  • C Stanley

    I do think the quantity of candidates is an impediment to thorough questioning but I don’t know how that can be avoided. A series of one on one debates might be interesting but would be really cumbersome and time consuming (and the networks and most viewers would never go for it.)

  • domajot


    Since you don’t give specific examples, it’s impossible to know what you have in mind.

    It seems to me, however, that much of what is perceived as ‘left’ or ‘right’ questions would be better handled by ‘left’ or ‘right’ answers than by sorting questions into political piles.

    I also think that you and Kritter are veering off into expecting too much from the format of group debates, and in the context of the primaries, to boot. In the brief seconds allotted for answers in the current debates, there really is no opportunity for in-depth and nuanced treatises on complex policy issues. Answers, by necessity, have to be confined to being indications of broad general principles and approaches, rather than detailed explanations. Even those can convey a lot, though.
    and can be conveyed either from a ‘left’ or ‘right’ perspective.

    Unless I see a proposal convincing me otherwise, then, I see no reason to worry about the bias in questions. The man in the street (or youTube) is concerned with a broad array of topics.

    It’s the answers!