Cheat-Seeking Missles

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Snowmanization Of Presidential Politics

Mitt Romney may be answering questions from a snowman after all.

That was his quip when he said earlier in the year he didn't want to follow the Dems into a CNN-YouTube debate, referring to a YouTube clip that made the cut, allowing a talking snowman to ask the Dem Prez candidates about global warming.

Romney wanted the prez race to be held to a higher standard -- uh, with Kucinich and Paul in the running? -- but the standard gets dropped tonight.

Writing in Politico, Garrett Graff says "the 2008 election will be the first one dominated and shaped heavily by the issues and technologies of the 21st century — from YouTube and MySpace online to China's rise and information age educational reforms."

It is, he thinks, the triumph of the interesting over the boring.

But is it? And if it is, is that a good thing?

We kid ourselves if we think this format allows the people to speak. In August, over 3,000 submitted videos got winnowed down to 37 that were used; winnowed not by the people, but by the gatekeepers.

Anderson Cooper and his staff decided what should be asked and what should not. They supposedly went for a mix of entertainment and policy -- but who's to know what they left behind and why they left it there?

It's the same old MSM-driven system, but the system has found citizens to ask the questions the system wants asked. As such, it's all packaging and the substance stays the same.

Granted, it's more interesting to have two lesbians from Brooklyn, Mary Matthews and Jen Weidenbaum, ask the candidates if they would allow the to be married than to have Anderson Cooper (who reportedly would be personally interested in the answer) ask it. But it's the same question in a different package, and it drew the same packaged answers from the Dem Prez wannabees.

I sympathize with Romney. I would like a more elegant campaign. Bring back the Lincoln-Douglas debates, which were real debates, with some 30 hours of back and forth, in depth, without a blow-dried moderator intervening.

But woe, that is not to be, at least not in this race or the next. Maybe sometime in some new and improved America.

But for now, we have two options: The standard, fatally flawed format of preening questioners and parrying responders, or a slightly more vital and fun, but still imperfect, format of YouTube questioners and parrying responders.

It's hardly the ideal, but I'm with Graff if the format draws more people, especially young people, into the political process.

Bring on YouTube. Goodbye, Cooper, hello Frosty.

hat-tip: memeorandum

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