Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Mixed Feelings About Democrat YouTube Debate

Did you watch the Democratic presidential CNN/YouTube debate on June 23?

The positives were that it was an interesting new format and Anderson Cooper did a good job of (sometimes successfully) trying to get candidates to stay on topic and answer the questions asked. To the latter point he sometimes asked a good follow up question to get the candidate to clarify an earlier answer. It was also appropriate that the front runners got to answer more questions and get more speaking time, while the second-tier got their due. Another plus was that some of the questioners were present in the debate to react to the candidate responses.

The negatives partly related to the choice of the final 39 questions picked by CNN out of the 3000+ submissions. Several of the 39 questions were indistinctly mumbled or of poor sound quality, or hard to see as in the case of a guy using poster slides. When broadcasting nationally CNN should throw out all the videos with poor audio or visual quality. Especially since none of those questions were knockouts in content either.

Also, some questions were plain stupid even if they were designed to put candidates in a spot. A guy asked if the candidates would be willing to be paid the minimum wage (implying it was too low) if they were elected President. The candidates answered politely, though the response in my head was, "Listen, turd, why should the person with the wisdom, talent and abilities to lead the whole nation be paid the lowest wage of any American?" I guess I'll never win political office. :-) Another hollow question, this a follow-up by Anderson on wasteful practices - how many candidates flew in for the debate by private jet? Yeah, big deal. With their crush of activities and so much at stake they should be wasting long hours (not to mention security implications) catching commercial flights. Yet one more question - did candidates send their children to private schools? If they have millions, why shouldn't they?

So who did best? I was most impressed by Hillary's direct, intelligent and realistic answers that did not sound canned. I already like her and am not a neutral judge. Most CNN and MSNBC commentators reflect my view though 11 of the 12 focus groups polled by CNN felt Obama did best (one plumped for Richardson.) Obama did have some very nifty lines, speaks well and keeps his composure. May be that's why he's so popular with the younger (and the Hillary-hating) set who are easily swayed and lack maturity. :-)

I was pleasantly surprised by Biden even if he's lagging too far behind in the polls to matter. Edwards did okay in spite of some platitudes and stump lines (e.g., his son of a mill worker spiel.)

Anyone have different perceptions? The Republic CNN/YouTube debate is on September 17.


Rene said...

It's true Hillary was very composed and gave thought-provoking answers, but unlike you, and belying my age ;-), I felt Obama came out on top. Was he rash in saying that he'd meet with leaders of Iran, Syria, Jordan... to discuss diplomatic solutions for Iraq when he became president? Perhaps. Especially because Hillary's reply was that she would not be used as propaganda. On the whole maybe because of, rather than in spite of, his inexperience, he ventured unafraid where angels feared to tread.

And that is really all I can say about the politicians of BIG BROTHER next door. Except, I don't think the Republicans' debate will be as interesting :-]

Sandip Madan said...

Rene, you not only look young but your siding with Obama proves you think young. No wonder the Loreto Darjeeling girls adore you. :-)

Actually I too earlier thought what's the harm in the President meeting adversarial heads of state without conditions, just to create goodwill and get the reconciliation ball rolling. Yesterday CNN did an interesting follow up piece where they talked to several neutral foreign policy experts who reportedly sided with Hillary on this one. They said proper groundwork is needed so that something positive emerges from the subsequent meeting of the heads of state.

Yes, let's see how the Republican debate goes. They have a much more relaxed schedule. The Democratic candidates are reportedly exhausted from all their commitments, but dare not turn down their myriad invitations for fear of offending those constituents.

kenrod said...

I see Hillary is attempting to negate her negatives by calling people by their names. I thought she was quite effective at increasing her "likeability".

I thought Obama did the best though his ideas were too left to get elected. Everyone was clamoring to get further left than everyone else and that will hurt them in the general election. Going too far on minimum wage, Iraq, global warming will hurt them eventually. But Hillary was smart to avoid the minimum wage question.

I also thought every candidate was claiming to be the most "un- Iraqi". Either they never voted for the war, or wanted to be out yesterday. While I think the war is very unpopular I don't think the public wants their politicians putting long stem sunflowers in gun barrels.

I thought in the 2000 election that Gore was too extreme and the real candidate should have been Sen. Lieberman since his views were more mainstream. But he lacked the charm. Likewise, I think the most mainstream character this time is Gov. Richardson, but once again, he lacks telegenic qualities.

This is, however, an election that is way in favor of the Dems. After the Industrial Revolution in England, we came across the Luddite revolution. This was when people would go around breaking machines at night. The Luddites claimed the machines were depriving them of a livelihood.

Well, every 25 years or so, we come back to "Luddite" revolutions. And progressive as I am, I don't lightly dismiss them. After all they have brought about overtime pay, workers' compensation, minimum wage, etc.

A few years later after the original Luddites we had Rachael Carson's "Silent Spring". That changed the way we made food, cleaned up rivers etc.

Today, we are in the middle of a Luddite revolution in terms of global warming. If the Dems can't capitalize on this one they might as well move to Siberia. I won't be surprised that they eventually draft Al Gore (if he lost 50 lbs.) if no clear cut winner emerges.

Rene said...


On a more serious note though Sandip, I feel that each day that is lost mulling over the pros and cons of a diplomatic solution means 100's more lives are lost. No, they cannot be dismissed like mosquitoes that are squatted away. Some may say "what are a few lives lost in the face of thousands more that are saved?" Unlike the other 2 world wars which were localised, this one is globalised and has no boundaries. It's no longer the case of going to a country or two to "defeat" the enemy. Like Frankenstein they cannot be controlled by their creator.

This is the 21st century, and diplomacy IS the answer. The experts have had 5 years to figure things out, and they still want more time to do "ground"work of all things. I'm sorry, but like Obama, I'm too impatient to wait for them to come up with strategies while more lives, time and money are all lost.

Sandip Madan said...

Kenrod, are you calling Democrats Luddites? Especially for trying to plan for the future by preaching conservation and lower dependence on fossil fuels? What do you call GWB and his evangelical crowd who try negating evolution and putting Creation in school science books?

All Dems are un-Iraqi only to the extent of criticising the war - which is the mainstream opinion now. Otherwise they had differing approaches. Hillary and Biden spoke against the 6 month total Iraq withdrawal as being unfeasible, and Hillary supports a residual force. In fact most commentators said her positions are better suited to a general election, and are less popular among the primary voters. In a calculated move, Obama seems to be taking populist positions to her left to gain points in the primary. I see why you like him - he may force Hillary to the left and damage her for the general elections. :-)

Sandip Madan said...

Good points, Rene. I think Hillary is all for diplomacy - just not for jumping to a head of state meeting without preparation. Preparation or groundwork means that at least both sides are willing to compromise.

I can see your point and have mixed feelings. The experts' worry may be that you cannot eliminate expectations. A meeting between heads of state that yields nothing can be viewed as a big failure and lower credibility in any future pushes. That's apart from the weaker issue of building up the image of the "nuisance" leader.

Still, who knows - this may be a case of over-analysis and over-caution. You fresh-thinking idealists may be right after all... :-)

kenrod said...

Luddite reactionaries are neither GOP or Dems. It's just a sense of trying to go back to some fundamentals. In the stem cell debate, the Dems are the progressives, while the right wing GOP are the Luddites.

I consider several movements today Luddite. Such as Amish in Pennsylvania, militant Islam, Green Peace, tattered jeans that cost $200.... It's just a way of telling the world things have gone too far and we have to go back to the basics.

After all, in history we find that when technology advances too fast for that period there often is destruction. Either the enemy is totally vanquished or resources are depleted. I'm looking at Easter Island or the Mayas or Incas. Maybe even the Egyptians.

In the stem cell debate we have to put together the legal and ethical framework before the technology advances. Same with biofoods.

Look at the A-bomb. The technology advanced before the ethics. I feel the US shouldn't have used it in that manner. It certainly shouldn't have been used in civilian cities. At least the US should have demonstrated the power by exploding one in the ocean. Now, the Islamic jihadis are using that very Hiroshima argument to fight the US.

Back in the 17th century, the French had developed a new hollow cannon ball. It was far more destructive than the old solid ones that just made a small hole and sank. The new ones not only made a bigger hole, but could explode. Well, the French had the military courtesy of demonstrating it to the English before using it. Eventually, they even withdrew it saying it was too destructive to the enemy, much to their chagrin I'm sure.

Am I a Luddite? In many ways, yes. I mean I wouldn't freeze time like the Amish or the militant Islamist. Progress will march on. But you can't build a skyscraper without the foundation.

Am I supporting Obama so he can hurt Hillary. Not really. I think he looks more presidential. Besides, I think it's time for the Dems... to have a Luddite reaction to the Reagan revolution. If you don't have small reactions every now and then, you end up with big ones. Like the French revolution, Magna Carta, Mao Tze Tung. In order to breathe in, you have to breathe out.

Sandip Madan said...

Good philosophical exposition, Kenrod. Thanks for contributing.

In the past I had subconciously thought of the great point you make regarding the use of the A-bomb on Japan in '45. Yes, it would have spared so many lives (mostly civilian) if the US had demonstrated its power in a remote or sparsely populated area. Assuming that the Japanese leadership would then be wise enough to surrender.

kenrod said...

The A-bomb should have been used at a military target. And since Japan was already surrounded and facing defeat, the Allies could have waited them out. Take 6 months or a year or 2. But once we unleased the genie it's hard to get it back in the bottle.

The same situation erupted in Waco, Texas. When the cult members refused to surrender, we should have waited them out instead of entering with firepower killing innocent women and children. But that's American grandstanding for you.

However, my point is that ethics should preceed a technology. Currently, we have the Googling ability to see anything anywhere, including your backyard. But is it legal, let alone ethical? When I'm in public territory I have no expectation to privacy. However, you might see me someday on Youtube sitting on my lawnchair in holey underwear. Where's my right to privacy?

We knew of people who had a daughter who contracted a bone marrow disease at 18. Unable to find a cure, they chose to have another baby so that the bone marrow could be extracted to save their 18 year old. At age 3 the marrow was extracted and today both children are alive. But the sole intent to have the second child was to save the first. How do you feel about this, Sandip?

Lastly, I disagree with your contention that we should meet with leaders of Iran, Syria etc. We are judged by the company we keep.

Besides, the Israelis made it a policy after the '72 Munich massacre to never negotiate with terrorists or kidnappers. It's served them well. Meeting with them also gives them a degree of validation.

Sandip Madan said...

The Waco cult leaders killed their own people and themselves. Why blame law enforcement folks who couldn't have anticipated this? Bush and Cheney would've probably bombed 'em and saved them the bother. :-)

I'm not that big a privacy champion as to want to bar Google's wonderful satellite imagery capabilities. Folks still have their roof and the walls of their home for privacy.

It's a no-brainer for me having another kid to save the first, especialy when the second one grows up happy and well. Even on the tougher choice of using stem cell therapy where embryo destruction is involved I'd be conflicted but go for it if pain for the embryo wasn't involved.

It appears that you, I and Hillary are actually in agreement on the issue of not meeting with enemy heads of state without preconditions, as Obama proposes.

david mcmahon said...

G'day from Australia,

I haven't forgotten about your blog, my (very) good friend.

Just been a hectic seven weeks after my wife had major surgery.

Life is now returning to normal and I'm finishing off another novel for Penguin, so I'll have some breathing space soon.

Love to Anita and the girls.

Keep smiling


Sandip Madan said...

Thank you, David! Hope Wendy is feeling fine now. Lot's happening my side as well. I sent an email to exchange more news offline...