July 29, 2007

A Proposal To CNN

The Republican reluctance to engage in the scheduled September YouTube debate has created a fierce debate in the blogosphere, including something of a civil war at Hugh Hewitt's Townhall blog. Hugh himself has adamantly insisted that Republican candidates eschew the substanceless spectacle of the YouTube/CNN enterprise as a media setup. Patrick Ruffini, his co-blogger, insists that a refusal will show an unwillingness to engage directly with citizens. I argued that the YouTube debate amounted to a political equivalent of the game show Let's Make A Deal, while Rick Moran casts it as a test of political courage. Michelle Malkin and Mark Steyn agree with Rick, while Jasmius at Heading Right says the whole thing is a tempest in a teapot.

Clearly, though, we have competing interests here and everyone has something right in this debate. The Republicans have to do better in reaching out directly to voters. In fact, given the real and/or perceived hostility of the national media towards the GOP, it behooves the Republicans to find ways around the media filter. The question is whether the CNN/YouTube structure allows them to do it.

The flaw in pursuing the debate as it CNN structured it for the Democrats is that CNN chose the questions. Even Joe Biden complained about that selection during the debate, calling the final question -- a demand for each candidate to say one thing good and one thing bad about the candidate to their left -- a "ridiculous exercise" as he answered it. A review of the transcript shows that the actual questions held little substance and gave little information to voters about the candidates or their positions.

So what's the solution? How can we engage voters in a national forum through the New Media, while keeping the debate substantive and serious? I have a simple solution: have CNN cede the editorial/selection process to the New Media, in the form of the blogosphere.

CNN would ask bloggers to form a committee to review the YouTube entries. Since this debate is a Republican primary event, the bloggers should probably represent that segment of the electorate -- primarily Republicans, but perhaps with independent/centrist representation as well. The committee would review all of the YouTube entries and narrow them down to around 20, through whatever process and criteria to which these bloggers agree. They would also agree to the order in which the questions would be asked.

How does this solve the argument? It removes CNN from any responsibility for the question selection, shielding them from bias allegations. It puts the onus on the New Media to act responsibly in its question selection. This mechanism truly would make the candidates accountable directly to the people who will vote for them in the primary races. The candidates would have no excuses to avoid this debate, either.

CNN has engaged the blogosphere in innovative ways before. If CNN and YouTube agree to this process, I would find the result fascinating -- and expect full participation from Republican candidates.

UPDATE: Some interesting reactions around the blogosphere. Allah says that CNN wouldn't believe that Republican bloggers would allow tough questions -- but even a cursory read around the blogosphere should be instructive to that point. We spend a lot of our effort ripping the existing candidates on various policies, and I don't think we'd see a lot of softballs, at least not in a primary debate.

Dan Riehl says, who needs CNN? Why not just conduct an on-line debate? Jimmy at Sundries Shack has a similar idea, with more details. John Cole predicts what the questions would be.

Jim at bRight & Early points me to Bill Hennessy, who suggests a blog-off. The rules are hilarious, as is the prize. Be sure to read the post.


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» http://www.sundriesshack.com/?p=3233 from The Sundries Shack
There’s a pretty heated debate brewing on the right side of the political blogosphere about whether or not the Republican candidates should submit themselves to the obvious indignity of the CNN/YouTube debate. Folks like Mark Steyn, John Podhore... [Read More]

» Going Forward on Youtube from NixGuy.com
Captain Ed has a modest proposal for fixing the youtube/cnn debate to make it more comfortable for GOP candidate: So what’s the solution? How can we engage voters in a national forum through the New Media, while keeping the debate substantive and... [Read More]

» Rudy Giuliani Watch: The You Tube Debate Flap Continues from FullosseousFlap's Dental Blog
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AU9U2d-2wnw Remember the Flap? Captain Ed has a good round-up of the discussion in the RIGHT Blogosphere including the dust-up between friends High Hewitt and Patrick Ruffini. Flap is going to take a more parochial vie... [Read More]

» Around The Sphere August 1, 2007 from The Moderate Voice
Our famous linkfest offering readers interesting links to websites of varying opinions so they can explore the ’sphere. Links do not not necessarily represent the viewpoints of The Moderate Voice or its writers. An Open Letter to Sudanese Presid... [Read More]

Comments (58)

Posted by John | July 29, 2007 1:08 PM

I'm not sure why Hewitt can't remember back to 1992, when the same Clinton team the GOP nominee is likely to face was able to take a minor event like Bush's trip to the supermarket to create an effective (and misleading) spin that Bush 41 wasout of touch with the public because he didn't know what a scanner is. If CNN refuses to give up gatekeeper status at a YouTube debate, there could be some short-term damage, but nothing like the "out of touch" mantra Republican candidate would hand the Democrats by failing to show up. Better to have a Romney or a Giuliani do a Biden and say the question is stupid than to avoid all questioning and have that become a long-term campaign issue.

As far as CNN giving up control of the ability to select the questions, I doubt their egos could handle turning their channel and news people into mere facilitators of others decisions. You've got a better chance if you push to allow CNN the option of choosing the questions, but with one or two bloggers on the right included in the selection process, so that any effort to slant the questioners heavily towards the left would be known in advance, and the candidates and the viewers would go into the debate knowing that the questions to be asked would bear no resemblence to the questions Republican primary voters would be concerned about ,and can act accordingly.

Posted by TW | July 29, 2007 1:22 PM

There probably isn't enough time to set up something too involved for the upcoming debate. A couple of bloggers from the right and maybe a rep from the RNC could advise. But this format isn't going away so it makes sense to set it up so that it's a fair process in the future.

Posted by Bill Faith | July 29, 2007 1:25 PM

An excellent idea except for the fact that, as John says, there's no way CNN will accept it. I excerpted and linked.

Posted by GarandFan | July 29, 2007 1:25 PM

A very good proposal. I don't think YT would care one way or the other, as John noted, the main obstacle will be CNN. I'm sure their response will be somthing alone the lines of not wanting to be "used".

Posted by Captain Ed | July 29, 2007 1:27 PM

I'd be leery of bloggers serving as "advisors" to the process, although not automatically opposed to it. I'd be afraid that we could be exploited to give legitimacy to a flawed process. I'd be more in favor of having CNN on the committee, on the same level as the participating bloggers.

TW, I'm less concerned with fairness as I am with substance. Candidates get unfair questions all the time, and have to learn to deal with them. What I want to see are answers to substantive questions.

Posted by Teresa | July 29, 2007 1:35 PM

Please give me one example of a question asked at the You TUbe debate that would be unfair to ask of a Republican. This is ridiculous and spineless behaviour on the part of the GOP. Heck, the Republican party of Florida is co-sponsoring the debate with CNN. One could reasonably assume they would have some input into the questions. Besides that, of course lefties submitted questions to the last debate because it is THEIR primary. The right will probably submit more questions to this debate because it is YOUR primary.

One can look at all 3000 entries to the You TUbe debate that were submitted. Give me an example of ONE reasonable question that you feel that CNN did NOT ask due to partisan reasons.


Posted by Teresa | July 29, 2007 1:39 PM

BTW, Captain Ed, I agree with you that it would be nice to see "substantial" guestions and answers, that is not going to happen when you have a format with eight to ten candidates. Time constraints forbid this from happening.

I actually thought the questions were pretty good at the You Tube and considering the Obama/Hillary kerfluffle this week actually managed to illustrate some differences between the candidates.

Posted by TW | July 29, 2007 1:51 PM

I think we have to accept that CNN and YouTube are in the entertainment business, so there will always be a bias toward picking questions that are entertaining. But even the snowman did address a serious issue, in an entertaining way. All of the questions did have some kernel of substance to them. I think it's then up to the candidates to take on the serious question that underlies any frills that were added to make it entertaining.

Yeah, I see your concern about using advisors to legitimize a flawed process, but there's no way CNN will yield final edit, so to speak. Get the best you can and then post links to the questions that you thought should have been included but were not. This is going to be an iterative process to get it close to being right.

Posted by the fly-man | July 29, 2007 1:55 PM

so this whole post is about the Right screeching blogosphere trying not to be left out as the deal makers? I can't seem to conflate your first paragraph listing all the heavy Dear Leader sites and their opinions and your quote in the comment section"I'd be leery of bloggers serving as "advisors" to the process, although not automatically opposed to it." One seems to claim ultimate legitimacy and the other sidelines the same assertion.

Posted by filistro | July 29, 2007 2:07 PM

Why is the GOP frightened of this format?

I don't think it's the possibility of lame/loaded/"gotcha" questions from a hostile public. After all, as has been pointed out, any serious political candidate faces this stuff all the time and should be fast enough on his feet to deal with it.

I think it's more likely because (as has also been pointed out) the questions are going to be coming from the Republican base and thus run the risk of further damaging a brand that's already badly compromised.

After all... how many scary guys fondling their AK-47 "babies"... (or pharmacists piously asserting their God-given right not to fill prescriptions for the morning-after pill) ... would it take to fatally alienate an already skittish electorate?

Posted by Dante | July 29, 2007 2:11 PM

It was wrong for the Democrats to not go to the Fox News Debate, and it would be wrong for the Republicans to not go to the YouTube Debate. It is dangerous to only talk to people who agree with you.


Posted by Neo | July 29, 2007 2:22 PM

CNN damned the "You Tube" debate with the snowman.

The snowman made the whole debate a joke and showed that the other questions were equally useless to voters.

The "snowman" .. err .. YouTube debate format is dead. Stick it with a fork.

Frankly, I hate this long format electoral process and find the debates of no value whatsoever. I mean, most of the candidates are US Senators, so why the hell don't they submit their ideas for legislation today, OK tommorrow. Otherwise, I find it all silly to believe that their ideas require them to be President to garner enough votes to make America any better if, in fact, their ideas are all that innovative.

Posted by dp | July 29, 2007 2:22 PM

I agree with Dante. If they don't YouTube debate, they're going to come off as a bunch of old "fuddy duddies"

Posted by the fly-man | July 29, 2007 2:22 PM

Oh christ, you GOPer's are using your own machismo standards and subsequent Fear label against yourselves. Why can't the candidates just decide for themselves, individually, whether it's a forum they're comfortable in or not? It's too early to get nailed down by pesky platitudes appeasing the TV media and blogosphere. Carter wore his cardigans why can't Rudy or fred just go to a baseball game or Nascar event and be available after that for questions? Travis Tritt does great meet and greets why not try that approach.

Posted by Captain Ed | July 29, 2007 2:31 PM


The candidates do town-hall forums almost every day in which they're "available for questions" and none of the candidates in either party seem to have a problem answering questions in that format. They spend all of their time doing "meet and greets", too -- what do you think campaigning is?

Posted by Rich | July 29, 2007 2:33 PM

Why not cut CNN out of the loop? Couldn't CQ solicit questions from "ordinary citizens" and ask them to post to You-Tube, or any other popular video site, and have a panel of mature commenters (Capt Ed, Michelle M, Charles Johnson, Hugh H, etc.) select their choices for most pertinent questions to answer for conservatives, liberals and libertarians to have answered. Have the candidates produce videos that answer the questions posed, and have them hosted at Hot Air, or wherever, for interested voters to pick up information without moderator bias limiting debate time. Let's USE the technology we have available, instead of trying to find a way to include old media.

Posted by Neo | July 29, 2007 2:33 PM

I suggest that the canidates be asked questions by former Presidents and/or the current President.

Like we get Bill Clinton and either Bush to ask the questions. These questions ought to leave a mark or two.

YouTube is dead. Stick it with a fork.

Posted by the fly-man | July 29, 2007 2:39 PM

Dante, i totally disagree with you. Your notion of talking to the other side suggests that there is this massive confusion in people's political views and somehow appeasing the other side will convert these othersiders to switch their ways and vote with the GOP. I tend to think that sincerity and genuine comfort with one's positions should be enough, and there is certainly enough time left, to let the flex voters see through the theatrics required on the candidates, and decide for themselves.

Posted by Ray | July 29, 2007 2:49 PM

I thought the whole idea behind debates between respective candidates was to allow the respective candidates to debate each other in a public setting and is used as a means of displaying their talent and experience at debating and not as a forum to express their views on any given issue as these views are usually well know long before the debate begins.

It isn't a means of expressing one's views, it's a test designed to show how well each candidate would perform their duties while in office, duties which include negotiating skills like debating on the floor of the Senate, for example, or the deliberations between the President and a foreign Head of State.

The public has several means of announcing their views which can include public meetings, letters and phone calls to their elected official, protest marches, ect. and each elected officer also has several means of which to annoying their views on any given subject to the public in return, similar to the ones use by the public.

If CNN wants to have a question and answer forum available to public input and any candidate wishes to be involved in that forum, that's fine and dandy, but let's call it what it is;, a forum, and not try to portray it as something it is not; a debate.

Posted by Ray | July 29, 2007 2:57 PM

"each elected officer also has several means of which to annoying their views"

That should read announcing and not annoying. hum... Can you say Freudian slip?

Posted by Fight4TheRight | July 29, 2007 3:05 PM

Interesting suggestion Cap'n. Although, I think to make it interesting, instead of all of the questions being screened by the Right blogosphere, there should be one question screened by Kos - wouldn't it be great to see Ron Paul field that question? For example: " Mr. Paul, the majority of Americans believe that Martial Law will be instituted here in America in the next few weeks, don't you think that will be a bad thing?"

: )

Course, I'd kind of like to hear Fred Thompson, Rudy, or John McCain get that question!

I agree with Dante and others - don't shun this debate. If a question is like the one above, laugh it off...call it what it is, stupid and in the end, some of the Repub candidates might just show some personality and win over a few independents!

If the questions came thru a filter of conservative bloggers, I'm afraid that Tim Russert and Chris Matthews would both have strokes.

Posted by Count to 10 | July 29, 2007 3:06 PM

So, if all of the possible YouTube clips were avalable online to the Dems before the debate, wouldn't thay have had the ability to watch, if not all of them, then the most tricky or unique ones (as selected by staffers) before hand? Particularly the ones dirrected at spesific candidates?

I'm kind of with Rich in using YouTube as more of a free form debate. I wouldn't say it should be instead of debates, but it is an outlet, so you are only limiting yourself if you don't use it.

Posted by daytrader | July 29, 2007 3:11 PM

Geeze we are supposed to watch a bunch of liberal questioners (the Youtube base) having questions cherry picked by CNN (communist news network) to throw mud at the Republican Candidates.

But somehow we have had for years and still do things that result in John Kerry posing for pictures where he is flipping pancakes in some God forsaken small corner of our country just because that state has a primary that for no good reason want's to portray itself as barometer of the rest of the country when they might as well actually be off in another separate universe.

Posted by daytrader | July 29, 2007 3:23 PM

Hell in the last debate on YouTube Hillary went truther on us and suggested Al Gore won in 2000 and nobody stepped up to call BS.

Right now most are looking for anything else than what we have to elect our people.

Simply look around Washington and even your local home government that have been elected or selected and you have to know we are not picking by the methods now used the best and the brightest.

But then the concept of dim bulbs dueling among themselves really can't do too much damage.

Posted by Red Wolverine | July 29, 2007 3:30 PM

I have no doubt that conservatives and libertarians would ask much better questions. Nevertheless CNN still gets to pick the questions. They will pick the dumbest questions avaiable. i.e.) Mayor Guiliani. .will be dressing in drag at evetns. Stuff like that.


Posted by bear1909 | July 29, 2007 3:36 PM

YouTube is not the only trendy way to debate using the New Media.

Have the RNC contract with WebEx-Cisco and webcast the debate (simulcasting). Have the candidates be based here in some hall in the US. Webcast the debate live to Baghdad where the US troops are the questioning audience.

Just an example. Why make You Tube and CNN a campaign issue just because the Democrats "dare" the Republicans to do it?

If that is a lasting campaign issue over substance, then this electorate is as Schtoopud as most pundits believe it is.

Posted by daytrader | July 29, 2007 3:45 PM

The Hildabeast has the MSM by the ba**s and knows it, that why she is so smug in all the debates. It's all just farce theater like a bad off broadway play.

Last time around she went truther and not one person could develop nads to even point out the fact.

All hid under their desks because they feared the incoming counter fire.

Yet still in the last debate she was packing more botox than all the gals in Marin county.

Those chipmunk cheeks ain't for real so why is she doing this stuff when she already knows this is all a dog and pony show she is having to endure just because it's there.

It's all about the rubes.

Posted by bear1909 | July 29, 2007 3:58 PM

Hillary will go the way of Gore. She has to win over Black women and white women independents to take the election.

With all their voter fraud tricks unraveling she doesnt have the stones.

It's gonna be recount time for her and she will be relegated to rightful place in the dustbin.

In the meantime, ratchet up the Republican debates. Use them to energize the base instead of sparring with the Cheeze Whizzers at the DNC.

Aikido works.

Posted by chuckster | July 29, 2007 3:59 PM

Heres an idea....agree to do the debate,providing Clinton,Obama and Edwards agree to do the Factor,and let the Factor choose the questions.....lol

Posted by reddog | July 29, 2007 4:15 PM

Why not just let Carl Rove and his Skunk Works formulate all of the questions and responses and let the candidates read off a script. That way nobody will have to worry that any stray truth or spontaneity will creep into the proceedings.

C'mon, you know you want to.

Posted by Ray | July 29, 2007 4:18 PM

I agree with Ed and others that, if CNN want to hold an actual debate between the candidates using public input, they to do a lot better in selecting their questions about a particular subject and the candidates need to do a lot better job at stating their position on that subject and defending that position. That's what debating is suppose be, stating your position on a particular subject and defending that position.

CNN should limit questions to only those that suggest a particular subject and allows the candidates to defend their position on that subject. The candidates should be allowed enough time to state their position and defend it. Allowing only one or two minutes is not enough time to defend a position effectively.

An example of good question would be: Do American citizens have the right to keep an bare arms and, if so, what limitations should be place upon that right?

An example of a bad question: If you were a tree, what tree would you be?

The first question would allow a candidate to state his position a subject and that candidate would be able to defend that position.

The second question would be nothing more than a request for introspection.

This types of debate, using public input as to which subjects should be debated, can be a good idea and should be utilized, but extreme care must be taken to keep them from becoming just another forum or means of entertainment.

As Ed has pointed out, CNN has failed to provide a serious debate platform as the last one was nothing more than a combination of a debate, a forum, and a game show. That makes it entertainment and there are already enough sitcoms on TV

Posted by bear1909 | July 29, 2007 4:22 PM

I'm laughing as hard as you are at that, Chuckster.

Posted by Ray | July 29, 2007 4:41 PM

"Why not just let Carl Rove and his Skunk Works formulate all of the questions and responses and let the candidates read off a script."

Or we could let James Carville and George Stephanopoulos open up their War Room again let them do the same.

Posted by DubiousD | July 29, 2007 4:44 PM

I wouldn't mind a YouTube debate if, say, 50% of the questions came from the troops. Since the War on Iraq is supposedly on everybody's mind (and they're doing the heavy lifting -- sorry, soccer moms) shouldn'ttheir questions and opinions be given a disproportionate amount of weight?

Posted by Ned R. | July 29, 2007 5:50 PM

I think maybe *this* post should have been the one called "The Naivete Sweepstakes."

Posted by patrick neid | July 29, 2007 5:56 PM

let me see if i got this right. in order to touch base with average americans the repubs, following in the footsteps of the dems, should do the modern equivalent of the Gong show on CNN, no less. this is pathetic.

the republicans should continue to hold standard debates with intelligent questions where every candidate has to respond. not the stupidity of responding to questions put to just one or another candidate while listening to Anderson's constant BS editorializing. so rudy "when did you stop beating your wife".

in fact the repubs should skip CNN entirely, not because its left wing, but because it holds terrible debates. last time around wolf blizter spoke more than the candidates.

as for the folks that think the repubs can think on their feet vs a cnn set up, you are dreaming. very few people can handle getting sand bagged under the lights. it has nothing to do with presidential skills. if cnn wants to embarrass the repubs in the world's eyes using youtube as their weapon it will be a layup.

personally i think all debates should be on c-span. if the public is too stupid not to watch so be it. when we have to start selling debates as carnival we are in trouble.

Posted by Doug | July 29, 2007 6:53 PM

Um Maybe Fox should do a "YouTube" debate without YouTube and CNN with the bloggers?

Posted by doug | July 29, 2007 6:57 PM

And bring on Kos TPM AS . It has to be better than "snowman" asking questions

Posted by quickjustice | July 29, 2007 8:18 PM

It isn't the "format". It's the idiotic questions. It reminds me of the "boxers or briefs" question someone asked Bill Clinton, and which he answered.

I think we ought to let write down twenty (20) substantive public policy areas on pieces of paper (for example, "climate change"), put the papers in a hat, and have each of the GOP candidates speak to the issue he or she randomly draws out of the hat for five (5) full minutes.

Posted by Labamigo | July 29, 2007 11:21 PM

Why in the world would CNN give up its prerogative to choose the questions?

Posted by Bitter Pill | July 30, 2007 6:00 AM

Dick Cheney and Karl Rove are controlling the media with mind control technology.

Bow down to the Rove-Cheney machine, you simpering liberals.


Posted by Jazz | July 30, 2007 6:03 AM

Sorry, Ed, but I have to disagree with you on this one. There are two assumptions here which I think need to be questioned:

1. That the questions in the Dem debate were "without substance." The questions covered Iraq, gun control, gay marriage, climate change, etc. etc. What other topics should they have hit?

2. That the debates are somehow "only for" the party base of the candidates. The entire country gets to decide which candidate to vote for in the final election and they should have a chance to hear (and question) all of the people competing for those spots.

While John Cole's take on it was hilarious and obviously intended as satire, it does bring up the most valid concern here. Are the debates supposed to be a true vetting of the candidates or are they a dog and pony show to make each party look its best while the selection process takes place? I can certainly see how right wing bloggers might ask some probing questions to find out *which* candidate best appeals to the concerns of the base, I definitely can not see any questions being asked which might throw a harsh light on basic GOP platform planks, etc. The candidates are, at least in theory, seeking an office where they will need to lead and represent the entire nation, not just the Republlicans who voted for them. (That's assuming a GOP win in 08... reverse the statement for Dems.)

There *were* some (though not nearly enough) tough questions tossed to the Democrats, along with a few silly ones that allowed America to see the more human side of the candidates. I think the overwhelming perception of massive media liberal bias by the right wing has poisoned the well here a bit. I also believe you're selling CNN short if you honestly think that they are only going to select a canvas of 50 "Gotcha" questions to embarass the candidates. It's not going to happen. Even if you truly believe that CNN is run by the DNC (which I find to be tin foil hat thinking, myself) surely you must admit that they still need to make an effort to at least *appear* somewhat unbiased in order to remain profitable.

Can you honestly say that you believe that the questions will be along the lines of...

"Mayor Guiliani... How sorry are you that you joined the Republican Party and will you select a Democratic VP running mate to bandage up some of your lost credibility?"

"Senator McCain, since the Bush Administration clearly planned and executed the 9/11 attacks and we have since murdered millions of peace loving Muslims who hold no animosity against us, how much money will you budget in reparations to the Islamic world?"

I hardly think so. I think CNN will select questions once again that cover the topics of the day. They will doubtless include a bit of silly, quirky stuff from real Americans who want to keep a sense of humor about all this, but the issues would be aired.

And as other posters have alreayd stated, I do honestly believe that failing to show up fo rthe debates will harden a fairly wide perception that the GOP is out of touch with mainstream America and is somehow afraid to face real Americans asking real questions. (This goes back to our previous disagreement about the Town Hall format, which I still take the opposite side from you on. The questions may be off the cuff, but the audiences are diligently screened for friendly participants by both parties.)

I also think that opponents of GOP particpation are selling the GOP candidates short. If they can't handle this, they shouldn't be running. At worst, they could call out any loaded questions as being loaded, point out the inherent bias in the question and use their time to talk intelligently about whatever pertinent issue was referenced in the question.

Posted by the fly-man | July 30, 2007 6:42 AM

Capt'N Ed, I rest my case, thanks for getting the obvious. They don't need the attention of worrying about national attention right now, especially since A Reagan sprout, that the MSM can approve of, hasn't occurred yet to fawn onto the American people. What's wrong with just plain ole campaigning? Why does everything have to be like the final 4? Can't people just read and follow the candidates without having to see how one whips the other's ass on TV? Is everyone afraid of the GOP front runner having a Dean Scream moment? You Tube, so what, all we'll get out of that is consultants and campaign managers clarifying positions the next
week making more ad bucks for the networks.

Posted by FedUp | July 30, 2007 8:32 AM

PA-LEEEEEEZE! We've ages to screech back and forth about what who should do... It's not going to change a whole lot in the months to come - except the fighting is going to get dirtier!

I have more respect for the Republicans taking questions from FCN than the Democrats taking questions from snowmen. It was a cute gimmick, but let's face it, they ALL are going to spout whatever rhetoric they think we want to hear in order to get elected. The only one who seems to have a spine is Ron Paul and he has the proverbial snowballs chance of winning.

Posted by Otto | July 30, 2007 9:16 AM

Yep, that sounds reasonable. We let a panel of Republican bloggers choose the questions that the Republican candidates are going to answer. I suggest we drop this idea right now. We already look frightened this is going to make us into a Jay Leno joke. Let's not get this out of perspective, it's a tactical skirmish in a long campaign but it speaks volumes about the leading candidate's mindset. Basically, they think they are going to be able to control the debate by only appearing before hand picked audiences and tightly controlled tv confrontations, and thereby avoid any macaca moments. If they think this is going provide a defense against a mass campaign by Hillary who is clearly going to be the democratic nominee, then Napoleon's dictum surely applies.

Posted by Political Chase | July 30, 2007 10:10 AM

You suggested, "CNN would ask bloggers to form a committee to review the YouTube entries." Doesn't that just move the problem rather than solve it? For example, what criteria will be applied to select the bloggers? Site ranking/relevance might be the first criterion to come to mind, but is that fair and balanced? We all know quantity doesn't necessarily mean quality.

I like the suggestion, but somehow, "moving" the problem should be resolved.

Posted by Martin | July 30, 2007 10:19 AM

These debates tend to be run by liberals. That is fine for Dem primaries, but they way that the questions are structured, and the liberal stipulations inherent in 99% of these questions makes it MUCH easier for the most liberal person on the stand to look good. This only helps us nominate RINO's. We are sick of RINO's.

We need questions on federalism asked by someone who knows what it is, not questions on the "gov't duty to take care of the downtrodden".

The GOP primary debates need to be about Conservatism and Federalism, not about morons in snowman suits asking questions that sound like they came from a retarded 12 year old.

Posted by Jazz | July 30, 2007 11:14 AM

Martin you're hurting your own cause.

"The GOP primary debates need to be about Conservatism and Federalism, not about morons in snowman suits asking questions that sound like they came from a retarded 12 year old."

Since there was no "snowman *suit*" you clearly didn't watch the debates, so you're commenting on something you didn't see and don't know about. So you don't know if they sounded like a "retarded 12 year old" (what a lovely turn of phrase.) Yep... just who we want defending conservatism and federalism in America.

Posted by southerngal | July 30, 2007 11:16 AM

I want a president who's not afraid to take questions from the public. I'm voting for whoever's not a sissy.

Posted by buma | July 30, 2007 12:16 PM

Not sure what the fuss is about. Surely the GOP candidates would be fine with whatever setup CNN and YouTube had with the Dems. CNN pretty much censored out any questions they didn't want (such as whether the candidates thought Gonzalez or Cheney or Bush should be impeached). I'd certainly would hope Ron Paul would be OK with the sam e setup the Dems had. What could go wrong for Giuliani and Mitt?

Posted by bubba | July 30, 2007 1:08 PM

What could go wrong for Giuliani and Mitt?
Nobody tuning in to it, thats what. Who cares. Youtube, the internets, or real people for that matter gives a rats ass about these wishy washy "conservatives." They're jokes.

The GOP is dead. Bush and the neo-conservatives killed the GOP. All that's left are confused and pissed off wingnuts.

Face it, its a Hillary-Obama , so wingnuts get your hate ready. Its going to be a long 8 years.

Posted by MoDMaN60 | July 31, 2007 7:36 PM

I thought the YouTube questions were very serious and on point... environment (yes from a snowman so what), health-care questions from the sick and dieing, and a soldier's parent asking about the Iraq war.

What are you talking about when you say, "held little substance..."

Your idea is DOA because it lacks any since of journalistic integrity, which is exactly what the citizens of YouTube are looking for.

Posted by cubiclegrrl | July 31, 2007 7:38 PM

Rock on, bubba! Which is a sad truth, because I strongly believe in a solid two-party (or more) system. But the GOP made its deal with the devil by pandering to the Religious Right and Big Business. So I won't be shedding any tears now that Old Scratch is handing them the check. 'Smatter of fact, I'm gonna savor the sticker-shock.

Poor wittle hothouse flowers. Can't stand a little reality-check from an electorate increasingly immune to jingoism, fear-mongering, and hero-worship? Well, that's just too d---ned bad, now ain't it? If insist on being a creationist in a Darwin world, you can just collect dust with the rest of the political fossils.

The thing is, I once called myself a Republican. But now I say @#$%^&* the lot of them. The neocons and the theocons are a *disease*. And I'll cheer on d---ned near any "cure" that pries their hot, greedy, sticky fingers off the reins of power. Let them ooze back under their rock for a generation, and good shuttance to the whole delusional, incompetent tribe.

Posted by JoeW | July 31, 2007 8:08 PM

I think the wisest thing for the repubs would be to bite the bullet and appear under the same rules that the dems dealt with. Otherwise, it puts repubs in the position of demanding a separate set of rules for themselves. Do they really want that?

It's not that I think Ed's idea is bad, I think they should seriously consider it if there's another round - for both paties

Posted by Bertrand Russell | July 31, 2007 9:22 PM

This is silly. Why leave it to the blogosphere? How are they any better than the media?

Let them answer the ones with the most user votes.

Posted by vinny | August 1, 2007 12:14 AM

Your proposal is flawed.

Assuming that because this is a primarily Republican event a committee of primarily right wing bloggers should be placed in charge of question selection doesn't jive at all with the aforementioned idea of a debate that reaches out to the people.

Why not let the general populous - the plebes - vote on the significance of topic categories and specific question?

Then, right and left wing bloggers can do what they do best - rehash and spin the results.

Posted by Fred Hamranhansenhansen | August 1, 2007 8:00 AM

CNN is in Atlanta. If you think that is liberal you need to take a trip to NYC or SF or LA where we can't watch CNN because it literally does not have a worldview.

The Democrats have already faced the "mighty" YouTube, where the majority of users describe themselves as conservative. There is no gentlemanly way for Republicans to not go.

What are they afraid of? Wolf Blitzer's liberal bias? ROTFL. With all the chickenhawking it does not look good to not be able to take a few questions from the general public.

Posted by kreiz | August 1, 2007 8:40 AM

It's the lack of decorum that troubles some of the candidates, and at some level, I get that. But it's more about a culture gap- and much more akin to the old folks in church grumbling at the young kids wearing t-shirts, shorts and flipflops. On one level, it evidences a lack of respectful. But at least the kids are showing up and participating. We could've done without Bill Clinton's "shorts or briefs" response, but the walls didn't come tumbling down. Entertainment and politics are increasingly intertwined. Get over it, show up, answer the questions, and smile, for god's sake.