Well, contrary to my fears about Space Boy and his ilk, the CNN/YouTube “debate” worked. Pretty well, anyway. A few of the questions from video voters were as incisive as anything you’d hear from Official MSMers like Tim Russert or Jim Lehrer. And the candidates’ answers were often pretty sharp and direct, with no more fuzzy evasiveness than you typically see at one of these confabs.
The CNN editors did their jobs well, screening out the real crazies–except for those Red State Update dudes, who got some of their milder schtick into the evening.
Other high- and- low-lights:
*Joe Biden on Darfur: Whoa! Smokin’ Joe came right out and said what no other Dem, and few Repubs, would say: We need American troops there right now to stop the genocide. The other candidates want to “accelerate the dialogue,” etc., but hundreds more kids will die while the next meeting to determine the parameters of an appropriate response within the framework of achievable progress toward the delegation of responsibility (zzzz) is being held. It’s within our power to do it, Biden said, therefore we have a moral duty to do so. I wish all the candidates had been asked to declare on this issue.
*Hillary on Meeting with Dictators: Her firm answer–I won’t be used for propaganda– made “Let’s Chat” Obama seem like an eager freshman, which, well, he is.
*John Edwards on Gay Marriage: He’s deeply conflicted, as are millions of other Americans. He came right out and said so, which, to my amazement, comes close to (gasp) humility. You mean, it’s okay to say we don’t know exactly what to do in every situation? Might need to think a bit more? Revolutionary. Anderson Cooper piled on, I thought, by allowing the questioner, a Black minister, to ask a follow-up from the audience. Worse, the minister ungraciously refused to acknowledge Edwards’ honest answer and the moral struggle implicit in his words.
*Bill Richardson Vs. No Child Left Behind: He hates it, and his slam drew one of the biggest responses from the crowd. I know the teachers’ unions hate NCLB, but I haven’t done enough study of my own to know exactly why. To the extent the law demands accountability in failing schools and mandates some kind of statewide and national testing standards, I think it’s a good idea, but I need to know more.