Watching the Democrats debate last night, two thoughts:
1. the reasons why the YouTube format worked, and I think it did, is not because the candidates cannot dodge the questions raised by ordinary people, while they can snow the professional media better. The reason is that ordinary people, even internet savvy geeks, ASK BETTER QUESTIONS than our shallow media personalities. People ask about actual issues; media types ask about candidates reactions to premises created by shallow media stories.
If CNN/NBC/Fox/ABC/etc. ask the questions, they come up with questions like this: "Senator Edwards, given the stories about your haircut costing $400, how will you overcome the perception that your concern about poverty is only a campaign ploy?"
Actual people might ask something like: "Hey how about some help down here?"
Anderson Cooper always kept trying to bring the candidates back to the question asked. Anderson should butt out, once in a while. The idea that the news departments of the networks somehow have the authority to referee the dialogue between candidates and voters is laughable.
Seems like there is a weird mismatch between candidate's positioning on Iraq and strategies for ending the war. It's a mismatch between past, present and future.
Obama Barack wants everybody to know that he opposed the war before Hilary Clinton. I have said this before and will say it again. What Hilary Clinton, John Kerry and John Edwards thought about the war in 2003 and 2003 was completely irrelevant. The President had a solid majority in both houses of Congress and was planning to do to war. If Hilary had immolated herself on the Senate floor in protest, it would not have stopped him. So Obama was right back then, so what?
Right now, Obama and Hilary are in an identical spot on the strategy for ending the war, along with Dodd and Biden. Continue to vote for funding for now, while pushing other measures that will, it is hoped, bring in enough GOP votes to pass a binding timetable for withdrawal. They know that the GOP is just hoping for someone to blame the disaster of Iraq on, and to be able to pose that as stabbing the troops in the back is their best hope. The Senators are not willing to walk into that trap, but insist that some of the GOP come with them.
Kucinich and Gravel argue that Congress should just vote to cut off funds. It appears that Edwards is in a similar place, though I can't tell. Of course, they are being brave about votes that they don't have to take.
In some ways, the antiwar left candidates (K,G and maybe E) are really aiming at developing a mass movement outside the election cycle to force the Capitol Hill Democrats to have the courage to cut off the funds. Their strategy is aimed at this summer and fall, and not at the primary elections in the winter, and certainly not at winning in Fall 08.
Richardson and Biden try to distinguish themselves by having a different plan for 2009 and beyond, but like the difference between Obama and Hilary in 2003, who cares?
My own opinion on how to use one's vote and political support to bring about an end to the war is this: start talking up Ron Paul, and send him a few bucks. I think that it is a good idea for you, although I can't quite get myself to do it. Right now, Bush is able to keep enough Republicans on Capitol Hill in line with him, because it doesn't appear that the Republican base is splitting away on the war. Ron Paul is the Eugene McCarthy of 08 -- all he has to do is better than expected anywhere -- even in fundraising and home page hits -- and he sends a shiver of panic down the spine of that Republican Congress Rat who realizes that the Bush administration is a ship that it is quite possible to go down with.