The CNN YouTube Debate

The future of politics was seen tonight.

Real citizens were able to ask questions. Real politicians tried to dodge them. They tried real hard.

Anderson Cooper did his best to keep them on target. It’s hard when the question asked doesn’t fit with their canned responses to questions. But there wasn’t a lot of “I want to go back to…”

However, having real people ask meaningful questions is better than having journalists or pundits asking them. The debate was much more entertaining. The candidates seemed more human. The air didn’t seem as hot. This is the kind of thing that can really get more people involved and interested in the election.

More of these need to happen. A lot more. At every level.

Luckily, the Republican version will be held here in St. Petersburg.

Oh, and I really liked the candidate “YouTube-style” videos… they are MUCH MUCH better than traditional political advertising.


The questions are posted on YouTube

Here are some random thoughts.

First, they need to restrict the number of candidates. Gravel, Kucinich, and Richardson added nothing to the debate. Gravel sounded like a grumpy old man (pointing out every time how little he was called upon), while Richardson and Kucinich seemed to be quite adept at pandering. In fact, I think under the definition of “pander” in the dictionary, it says: See also: Kucinich, Dennis

Second, the three major players: Clinton, Obama, and Edwards sounded like candidates with gravitas. To be sure, they did their best to “me too” things when possible. It helped when a lot of the questions were specifically asked of these three. However, Anderson kicked questions to at least one of them each time.

These Democrats sounded a heck of a lot more positive than those in 2004 or 2006. Sure, when Iraq or Katrina came up they jabbed President Bush. However, it sounds like they may have stumbled upon a coherent message. Of course, President Bush is doing a darn good job of helping.

Anderson did a good job of not letting every candidate answer every question. Dodd and Gravel really didn’t like that. Even if future debates don’t use YouTube, future moderators should follow a similar model. Especially with so many candidates, but I’d say even with fewer candidates.

The answers were blatantly liberal, including one question asking for the definition of the word “liberal.” Get out of Iraq. Universal health care. Repeal tax cuts for the rich. Special interests are bad. Raise the income level on social security taxes. Get out of Iraq. Scrap No Kids Left Behind. Raise minimum wage to $9 or more. Focus on alternative energies. Get out of Iraq. Election reform. Gay marriages. Relief for Darfur. Did I mention Iraq?

Obama and Edwards noted the major tenor behind the question: a deep desire for change. To be sure, it could be the questions were screened by CNN and others weren’t quite so dramatic. It could be the overwhelming domination of the Internet by liberals. I don’t think so. The desire for a new start is palpable, even more than a year before the election.


It was a good debate. I’m looking forward to the Republican version in St. Petersburg on September 17th.

About Jim Johnson

Editor and publisher of The State of Sunshine.
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One Response to The CNN YouTube Debate

  1. Matthew says:

    The question from the snowman was definately the funniest/most ridiculous of the evening. I really wish the Republicans did one, but considering it’s not exactly their “demographic” I seriously doubt it.

    By the way, if you ever need great local content for this awesome local blog, check out thenewsroom.com

    –matthew from the local desk at thenewsroom.com

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