The group blog of The New Republic
July 23, 2007
The top award for the YouTube debate thus far goes to Reverend Reggie, a black pastor from North Carolina. The question, for John Edwards: In the American past, religious justifications -- something prohibited by the Constitution, at least under most interpretations -- were used to prolong injustices like slavery, Jim Crow, not allowing women to vote. How can you use your Southern Baptist faith to explain your opposition to gay marriage?
There just wasn't a good way to answer that.
P.S.: His video -- featuring a song from "Hair" -- was pretty cheeky, though.
Obama's answer on "how would you get out of Iraq now?" was weak. Harping on the Iraqi Parliament's vacation -- now truncated to three weeks -- come on. We're taking four weeks up on the Hill. I wish I ever heard anything about how the IP's spending their time when they are in session, rather than harangues over their beach days.
When that flutey-voiced snowman asked our presidential candidates a question, I made up my mind that this YouTube debate has been tremendous. Some of the questions -- I'm thinking of Pastor Reggie -- have been tough, but it also served the purpose of accomplishing what Mike Gravel has been crabbily begging for all night: More air time for lunatics.
Joe Biden -- as several commenters have noted -- is strong and straightforward in this debate, as he has been in the others. Bill Richardson has shown a lot more poise than in past debates, too, although on the content -- Darfur, his funny riff on his own poverty -- I'd take Biden. But I'd put money on Richardson getting a boost from his performance over Biden, if anybody does. Sigh.
"It's more than just having a plan. We have to have a commitment that universal health care is an American value."
Was nearly flawless tonight--even in a couple of tricky unscripted moments. She has been amazingly good in all these debates, far better than I would have predicted a year ago. More to come.
Bill Richardson had the only really specific response to the youth-group-icebreaker question to identify something you like or don't like about the candidate to your left: He lauded Biden's service on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, civil rights, Supreme Court nominees. Impressive, insofar as any response could be. Joe Biden likes Dennis Kucinich's wife -- yikes.
Mike, I agree about Hillary. CNN's focus group polls Obama first, though, and Biden second, for whatever that's worth.
I'm going to join what seems like an insta- consensus that the YouTube format worked nicely. Sure it was gimmicky and frivolous at times. But the unpredictable variety was far more appealing than the usual Brokaw-Blitzer-etc drone. And while debates have long featured questions from "ordinary voters," the video format lets people be more relaxed and articulate.
July 22, 2007
In Sunday's Boston Globe, Jeff Jacoby thinks he's being clever when he asks if a great University like Cambridge would recruit to its physics department a "theology-and Bible-drenched individual" who "forecast the date of the Apocalypse" and calculated that the world was created in 3988 B.C.