Dorothy: Your Majesty, If you were King, you wouldn’t be afraid of anything?
Lion: Not nobody, not nohow!
Tin Man: Not even a rhinocerous?
Dorothy: How about a hippopotamus?
Lion: Why, I’d trash him from top to bottomamus!
Dorothy: Supposin’ you met an elephant?
Lion: I’d wrap him up in cellophant!
Scarecrow: What if it were a brontosaurus?
Lion: I’d show him who was King of the Forest!
All Four: HOW?
What makes a King out of a slave?
What makes the flag on the mast to wave?
What makes the elephant charge his tusk, in the misty mist or the dusky dusk? What makes the muskrat guard his musk?
What makes the sphinx the seventh wonder?
What makes the dawn come up like thunder?
What makes the Hottentot so hot? What puts the “ape” in apricot? What have they got that I ain’t got?
All Four: COURAGE!
Lion: You can say that again…
I was trying to decide whether to use this classic Bert Lahr bit from Wizard of Oz or another classic bit from Monty Python and the Holy Grail to illustrate how totally disgusted I am with Republican presidential candidates who fear getting questions via YouTube from well meaning but nutty citizens that would be gleefully culled and chosen by those totally impartial and fair minded editors and producers at CNN.
Hugh Hewitt, with what we assume will soon be the official Mitt Romney position, cries Humbug!
If the GOP candidates agree to this format, expect a series of cheap shots about all of the top tier candidates. Patrick worries that the Republicans will appear behind the times if they take a pass. Perhaps, but if that means skipping a no win set-up where MSM agenda journalists work for weeks to put a video shiv into one or more of the Big Three, I am for it. The second tier folks will no doubt show up hoping for a Hail mary moment, but Giuliani, Romney and Thompson ought to say no thanks.
To illustrate,take a look at this story—a bit of agenda journalism that Jonathan Martin at Politico.com told me on air today is built on a story that has been floating around for months. Imagine some YouTube video asking Rudy why he’s defending a suspected pedophile. No MSMer would dare ask such a loaded question, but imagine what the gang at CNN would do. They covered for the Dems with a series of overwhelmingly left-biased questions at the first YouTube debate, with a very few tough, serious questions thrown in. That dynamic would change completely in a GOP YouTube debate—they or their counterparts at a different network will be gunning for the Republicans, and the question set will be designed to embarrass or ridicule.
Hugh is missing the point. It’s not a question of partisanship necessarily. It’s a question of putting on a good show.
If you’re all doe eyed and worshipful about the “freedom of the press” and our grand experiment in democracy being safeguarded by these noble knights with printers ink on their fingers, allow me to disabuse you of something; these guys are not very noble and the only freedom they care about is the one that says they can make gobs of money while pretending to be journalists. Paddy Chayefsky’s nightmare screenplay Network has come true with a vengeance. It’s not about the news. It’s show business. CNN, Fox, MSNBC - the lot of them – are in “the boredom killing business” as Chayefsky so sharply observed.
Even more basic than that, it’s all about eyeballs. The news nets want your eyeballs and like the carny barkers of old, will do or say just about anything to make you stop clicking the remote long enough – 3 or 4 minutes at the outside – to watch as they dangle shiny, pretty, horrifying, funny, dramatic, titillating, and blood boiling baubles made of people and events in front of your eyes. Their goal; make you stick around until after the commercial break.
Are they partisan? Sure they are. But above and beyond that, they are consummate showmen. And a bunch of conservative Christian white men standing on stage all in a row like ducks in an old fashioned shooting gallery is just too much of a target rich environment to pass up. They’ll have every group of special pleaders (who happen to be Democratic constituencies) eager to get their shots in. Why do Republicans hate blacks? Or Hispanics? Or women? Or children. Or puppy dogs?
In the Democratic debate, the entertainment value came from the questioners themselves. The snowman, the guy who called his rifle “baby” – CNN could have cared less about the efficacy of the questions as long as the people asking them were interesting to look at.
The GOP debate would be a little different. Hugh is correct about the kinds of questions that would be chosen. But here, the entertainment value would be watching the Republican candidates squirm. The chickenhawk questions would be most entertaining – from CNN’s point of view. And can you imagine some gay guy asking Brownback why he’s persecuting him? Perfect!
So why bother, Hewitt is asking?
For God’s sake, Hugh! These people want to be President of the United States! If they can’t stand up to a little tough questioning from Democratic partisans (CNN included) how in God’s name are they going to stand up to Ahmadinejad who I guarantee will feel a helluva lot more empowered come November, 2008 than a gay guy from New York asking about gay marriage!
There would be something unseemly about Republicans ducking this debate – sort of like being too frightened to walk into a dark room full of treasure where you’ve been told a vicious beast is ready to pounce and eat you. That doesn’t mean you don’t go into the room. It means that you grab yourself a set of night vision goggles and the biggest gun in your arsenal and you go and face down the beast and grab the loot.
If Republicans don’t believe strongly enough in their ideals, then perhaps they should skip the debate. Case in point was Obama’s response to the question about meeting the thugs of the world his first year in office without pre-conditions. It’s a stupid idea. But was there any doubt in your mind that Obama didn’t believe in his answer 120%? Hillary has tried to make political hay out of Obama’s naivety but isn’t getting very far because people know that Obama believes what he’s saying.
Does Romney mean it when he says he’s anti-abortion or anti-gay marriage? Does Rudy believe it when he says he’ll name strict constructionists to the Supreme Court? Does anyone believe anything John McCain says anymore?
The GOP is in crisis because it has no leadership, no agenda, and is failing the test of history. It’s principles have crashed on the shoals of expediency and arrogance. It insists on putting its social agenda front and center in the mistaken belief that Americans care more about preventing gay people from getting married then whether they’ll have a job in six months. Or how in God’s name we’re going to get out of Iraq without leaving a bloody mess.
Stay away from the debate and the American people will judge you cowards. The press will see to that. Stand up like men, take your lumps, give back as good as you get, don’t fear the unknown, and move forward.
Or, perhaps the man behind the curtain will give you what you really need; a permanent pass to the back benches of government where you belong if you skip this debate.