Debut, debacle or theater, with its sponsorship of the latest Democratic presidential debates, YouTube could find itself squarely on the political tip of every tongue in a way which only this kind of public drama could elicit. It should push Potter-mania out of the headlines – magical thinking.
While the candidates are the same in number and appearance as before: The delivery of the questions almost upstaged the actors. Did it live up to expectations about being more inclusive, i.e., diverse? On that score, it was indeed a diverse crowd presenting questions about mundane concerns.
Were there any surprises tonight? I think not, these questions bandied about and lobbed before were not new, pulled from blogosphere or the headlines. Anderson Cooper must have surprised everyone when he asked the candidates for show of hands if they flew there by private jets. This is a surprise, what happened to first class? Elitism as usual, it looks that way.
There is a pattern emerging in the positions that the candidates assume both in their responses to questions and in their delivery. Hillary has great delivery, no doubt. Barack, while articulate, has a halting nature to the way that he responds. Actually, that could come from being too cerebral, introspective, especially for writers. Then there is Mike Gravel. He has a one-line list that he keeps repeating: “follow the money.” I think this guy has problems. The one that is beginning to stand out in my mind however is Joe Biden. Not only are his responses warm and convincing, also quite honest. His presence rounds out this stellar field.
One of the questions involved the possibility of Bush-Clinton-Bush-Clinton alternating presidents—worrisome if she were to win. Her response was great: she said thought Bush should not have won, and that she thought someone else won the second time. The audience where I watched cheered loudly. It begs the unspoken: many of today’s culture wars filtered into American law and politics under Bill Clinton’s watch. Specifically: uncontrolled illegal immigration, NAFTA, three-strikes law, failure to pass universal health care, and the inconvenience of “going green.”
I think the strangest moment and the best line came when a man posed the question: “I want to know if my ‘baby’ will be safe?” Then he starts caressing his now-banned assault weapon! Biden gave the best response: “If that’s his baby then he needs help.” The crowd went kinda wild in the pub.
On health care, the producers strung five videos together, followed by questions about universal coverage. Obama was able to personalize this question by mentioning his mother’s cancer diagnosis when she was in between jobs. I suspect that this story is common. The audience heard a favorite taboo question bloggers first raised: “Is Barack black enough?” He shimmied right past the answer. While, he cited the same “hailing-cab-while-black syndrome,” he cannot deny his obvious bi-racial lineage. Richardson managed to make some good points. He brought up preventive medicine more than once. That is a good thing. He also mentioned the unholy alliance between schools and soft drink makers; who have their soda machines in all the high schools—why? The revenue helps the school to add to its already thin coffers. And everybody knows that money trumps obesity concerns.
Taxes, troops, and tough health care decisions seemed to be on everyone’s mind. With the call down of the troops—the people, and democratic candidates pulling away from the Iraq war—it looks like the democrats are unpatriotic. If the connection grows stronger, then the Republican candidates might have a new whipping boy: Low ratings for Congress and the Iraq disconnect. Watch for the Republicans to bring up issues relating to national security and democratic support of the troops.
We heard from Edwards who abruptly and aggressively brought up his poverty tour. Everyone was on the edge of their seats for that rendition. We did not hear much about education this time. Based on the answers that one typically gets from non-educators (including politicians) one gets the feeling that a teachers think-tank is in order to answer many of the knotty details. The democrats continued to dance around many issues such as illegal aliens crowding the schools. Right now, that is the law. No teacher or principal can ask someone who speaks no English, and looks totally lost, “you got legal papers to go with that child?” This is because a fellow democrat made it all possible: Senator Kennedy.
The responses elicited, overall, by this debate are still too safe, sanitized despite the infusion of YouTube videos. Entertainment has added value, but it will probably take the exit of 3 or 4 of these lovely candidates before toughness takes over.Powered by Sidelines