Thursday, November 29, 2007

Barnes on CNN-You Tube “Debate”

Weekly Standard editor Fred Barnes gets right at it with an assist from his wife:

When the CNN-You Tube debate among Republican presidential candidates began with a guy named Chris Nandor playing a guitar and singing, my wife Barbara exclaimed, "This is humiliating. This is really bad."

Of course she was right. And then things got worse.

This debate not only was mortifying to the candidates. It also should have been embarrassing to the viewers, especially Republican voters who might have been watching.

I don't know if the folks who put the debate together were purposely trying to make the Republican candidates look bad, but they certainly succeeded.

True, the candidates occasionally contributed. For the first few minutes, Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney continued their debate over their records on immigration and did so with the kind of intensity that this trivial matter didn't warrant. These are two fine candidates who have only themselves to blame for looking petty.

But it was chiefly the questions and who asked them that made the debate so appalling.

By my recollection, there were no questions on health care, the economy, trade, the S-chip children's health care issue, the "surge" in Iraq, the spending showdown between President Bush and Congress, terrorist surveillance, or the performance of the Democratic Congress.

Instead there were questions - ones moderator Anderson Cooper kept insisting had required a lot of time and effort by the questioners - on the Confederate flag, Mars, Giuliani's rooting for the Boston Red Sox in the World Series, whether Ron Paul might run as an independent for president, and the Bible. The best response to these questions was Romney's refusal to discuss what the Confederate flag represents. Fred Thompson discussed it.

The most excruciating episode occurred when Cooper allowed a retired general in the audience to drone on with special pleading in favor of allowing gays in the military.

This was a setup. The general had asked a question by video, then suddenly appeared in the crowd and got the mike.

The aim here could only have been to make the Republican candidates, all of whom oppose gays in the military, squirm. As it turned out, they didn’t appear to.
The general turns out to be a Clinton supporter, by the way.
In its report of “the debate” the NY Times mentioned the general and his question, but didn’t report he’s a Clinton supporter.

Are you surprised?

Barnes entire post is here at Campaign Standard, a Weekly Standard blog.