Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The CNN/YouTube Republican Debate

In “Post Game Spin” after the last democratic debate, Goose discussed his disappointments with the way the debate was organized and moderated. My initial thoughts from tonight’s Republican debate are similarly critical. I like the idea of letting “the people” ask the presidential candidates questions but I do not think that allowing YouTube videos in from across the country is the best way to do it. The opening clips of the ridiculous questions set a strange feel for a debate that is discussing such serious and difficult issues. Similarly, why would CNN choose to follow the bloopers with a sophomoric and misplaced song about the candidates? If I saw that song on YouTube, I would have stopped watching after two verses and I did not enjoy having to sit through it at this debate. Before moving on to more substantive matters, I think that the questions asked to the candidates should be done in a respectful manner. The debate is a relatively serious and important venue to learn about the candidates that could be running our country. Some of the questions came from individuals wearing backwards hats and sunglasses, an Uncle Sam cartoon, and an individual eating corn and slurring his words. It also seemed like CNN did not do their homework and review the candidates’ videos before they were aired. Anderson Cooper had to improvise after Thompson’s 30 second video and, rather than go to commercial as he’d planned, he just asked Thompson “What’s up with that?” It just did not seem like the tone of the debate was appropriate or that CNN had planned the debate carefully.

One thing that immediately caught my attention was the focus on Hillary Clinton in the 30 second candidate’s ads. Multiple candidates (Giuliani, McCain and others) focused their ads on the differences between them and Hillary and how they could beat Hillary. McCain’s tagline at the end of his ad was “The Conservative that will beat Hillary.” Last I checked, Obama is gaining a lot of ground on Hillary in Iowa and the race is far from over. Yes, Hillary is in the lead but why are the candidates focusing on how they can beat her? I would think that, for the Republican presidential candidates, it would be more important for them to differentiate themselves from eachother than to attack Hillary.

The discussion of gun control seemed like an NRA pep rally. The candidates proudly talked about their personal gun collections and when Giuliani suggested putting reasonable government restrictions (like a written exam) on access to guns, he was met by Boos. I thought that this section of the debate did not add much to our knowledge of the candidates’ status on this issue.

With respect to the candidates’ performances, I was impressed by Mike Huckabee. First, I thought it was hilarious that the first person they showed in the audience was Chuck Norris (who endorsed Huckabee) and then, during the first question to Giuliani, they showed him again in the audience. What I liked about Huckabee’s performance was that he respected the time limits and answered the questions. Like Joe Biden at the democratic debates, Huckabee kept his answers short and answered the questions presented to him. I could not say the same thing about Fred Thompson who seemed to sidestep most questions. For example, Thompson could not choose 3 federal programs he would cut but rather, said he would cut 100 programs and he did not specify the top programs he would focus on.

I thought that Giuliani sounded like a broken record throughout a lot of the debate. Joe Biden once said that Giuliani can only say “a noun, a verb and 9/11” in every sentence he speaks. Tonight, he seemed obsessed with how dangerous NY was before he was elected mayor and the percentages of crimes that went down while he was mayor.

I thought that Mitt Romney was one of the more impressive candidates. I thought he did an excellent job of replying to Giuliani’s attack about a “Sanctuary Mansion.” Living in Los Angeles, I think it would be virtually impossible to never hire a company or eat at a restaurant that employs undocumented workers. It’s not reasonable to fault Romney for hiring a company that hired illegal immigrants. So, I thought Giuliani’s attack was pretty tasteless.

1 comment:

C. P. Coleta said...

My God! Last night was a shining moment when it became as clear as day to me why many Republican voters are still dissatisfied with the presidential field. Outside of McCain, none of these candidates seem genuine and refreshing. Romney and Rudy are both flip-flopping hacks. Fred Thompson must've assumed just announcing gets you the nomination, because his lackluster campaign is an embarrassment to the American political process. Ron Paul is nuts, and all his little supporters would literally move to Canada were he to be President. And I can't respect Huckabee after the way Dan Bartlett trashed him last month. This is probably the worst field since '88, but at least a true red Republican one: George H.W. Bush