In the Loop

In the Loop: July 24, 2007 Archive

Pay no attention to the silly snowman: Picking my way back through the YouTube debate

Posted at 11:40 AM on July 24, 2007 by Jeff Horwich (2 Comments)

If I'd thought about it, I might have turned on the YouTube Democratic Candidates debate last night on TV. But I'm glad I didn't.

One of the best things about the format, I'm finding, is my ability to browse the debate at my own pace the day after (which I've been doing this morning, on the YouTube page devoted to it.) There are some glitches on YouTube's page (misnamed candidates, incomplete videos -- hello???? YouTube???? People are kind of paying attention) but all in all it's a nifty way to consume the debate -- and a little scary.

(Global warming question, from a silly snowman. Way to represent, MN.)
It's nifty because you can skip to the questions that interest you; if an answer sucks, you can skip ahead to another; you can take in the debate -- or some of it -- without devoting hours, and at a time convenient to you. Speaking as someone who is interested in politics but not a political junkie, this feels like quite an evolution.

It's scary because the moderator is basically a pointless traffic cop; the question editors, not surprisingly, had a soft spot for showmanship (example: Minnesota native Billium the Snowman, pictured here); you can easily skip minor candidates or questions that are important but boring (health care, anyone?). Also, as I mentioned, the archivist of the debate is YouTube, which is demonstrating it is not completely up to the task.

I guess the big question is: Did this format get surprising questions into the debate? I think so. My favorites:

* If you had to choose a Republican running mate, who would it be?
* Should we give reparations for slavery?
* Would a woman president be taken seriously by the Arab world? (YouTube, GD-it, neglects to actually post Hillary's answer. Wake up over there!)
* Would you agree to be paid minimum wage during your term as president?
* What do you like and dislike about the candidate to your left? (But watch the candidates dodge it, one and all. Richardson gets in a good line, though.)

Anybody else watch it -- on TV or after the fact?

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