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The YouTube Debate

Jeff Jarvis

So the sissy Republicans who tried to avoid their YouTube debate are finally facing The People.

Anderson Cooper acknowledges the concerns about the kinds of questions asked last time but only manages to insult the entire field of questioners by featuring the stupid moments. Thanks, Andy. Next we have a song about the candidates that is an utter waste of time. We have more than 10 minutes of preambles, taking up the chance to add two questions. And I'll waste a line of pixels noting that none of these guys believes in blow-dried hair. It's a greasy-haired bunch.

We have the same formatting problem from the last debate: the videos are a small screen on a screen. And worse, they're sometimes out of sync. And dark and unwatchable.

We start with a tribute to Lou Dobbs: immigration.

Finally, question No. 1: A New Yorker asks Rudy Giuliani about New York being a sanctuary city. Rudy says that New York was not a sanctuary city but on my TV, CNN's transmission glitches and we missed a few crucial words from his answer. Rudy defends himself; Mitt Romney goes after him; Rudy attacks back, saying that Mitt had illegal immigrants working in his mansion. Mitt calls foreigners "people with funny accents." Fred Thompson jumps into what is looking like a schoolyard squabble.

John McCain talks about "our" failures in Katrina, Iraq, and immigration and complains about the spirit of the debate. Tom Tancredo, the Dobbs candidate, says its wonderful because people are "trying to out-Tancredo Tancredo." Then Duncan Hunter gets his chance to brag about building border fences. You'd think that immigration is the No. 1 issue in America as we have yet another question on the topic. And Mike Huckabee has to defend himself on the topic.

Finally, we get off immigration but land on someone pushing Ron Paul on conspiracy theorists and the Trilateral Commission. Jee-sus. This is our national election? These are what CNN thinks are what we think are the most important topics in this election? What a cartoon.

Next: the economy and national debt and John McCain, acting like the only adult here, says that we have forgotten how to control spending. Now there's another question about spending, asking a few of the candidates what the top three programs they'd cut are. Fred Thompson doesn't quite answer it, saying there are a hundred.

Now instead of a damned snowman we get a damned Uncle Sam asking about getting rid of the income tax. Once again, CNN is treating the people as a nation on the fringe.

McCain goes after Ron Paul's isolationism and says the message of the troops is "let us win." Paul says McCain doesn't understand the difference between "nonintervention and isolationism."

Grover Norquist asks for his pledge not to raise taxes. Guess what their answers are. But Thompson and McCain say they won't pledge to Norquist but will pledge only to the American people.

Next: poison toys from China. What's to say? Who's in favor of them?

Each candidate gets to put up a video and Fred Thompson's attacks others. "I want to give my buddies here a little airtime."

Now the apparently obligatory gun-lover questions. One challenges Rudy Giuliani for suggesting that gun-owners should have to pass a written exam. Giuliani suggests the need for "reasonable regulations" and gets booed. Another asks what guns they own.

Next a question on black-on-black crime and Mitt Romney responds by praising the kid who asks it for having a father. A bit condescending, no?

A woman asks that if abortion is found to be illegal what crimes a woman who receives an abortion should be charged with and what about the doctor? Ron Paul punts: it's up to the state and he says as a former OB doctor he never saw a medically necessary abortion. Fred Thompson says overturning Roe v. Wade "should be our No. 1 focus." A.J. from New Jersey asks whether the candidates would sign a ban on abortion. Giuliani says he would not sign it and would leave it to the states to decide. He also says he would not criminalize abortion. Romney says that if the Congress signed such a bill, "terrific."

Next, a simple question: "The death penalty. What would Jesus do?" Mike Huckabee says he's the only candidate who executed. "I believe there is a place for a death penalty." Huckabee's pushed on the question and says "Jesus was too smart to ever run for public office."

A guy named Joseph asks three times whether the candidates believe every word in "this book" -- the Bible. Giuliani says that he doesn't believe it all literally. The Rev. Huckabee says there is allegory.

A Muslim woman asks about about repairing America's image in the Muslim world. Giuliani pushes the war on terror and McCain pushes the war in Iraq.

When asked about torture, Romney refuses to define it. McCain slaps Romney and says he can't believe that he wouldn't know about or define waterboarding as torture.

By Ed O'Keefe |  November 28, 2007; 9:33 PM ET Debates , YouTube
Previous: Question 21: Waterboarding | Next: Question 22: A Permanent Committment to Iraq?

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