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WhoseTube Debates

September 13, 2007

A few months after the Democratic YouTube debate and a few months before the Republican, now is as good a time as any to reflect on what exactly is the point of these Web 2.0 inspired debates. Are they really holding the candidates accountable to the voters, or are they merely a hip charade?
According to YouTube, “This is your country, and your presidential debate.” However, the YouChoose ’08 site goes on to say that the CNN political team chooses which videos will air, a method out of line with the Web 2.0 modus operandi. Why not decide by votes? Comments? Clicks?
Perhaps CNN and YouTube are trying to assuage the fears of candidates such as Mitt Romney, who said, “”I think the presidency ought to be held at a higher level than having to answer questions from a snowman” (see the WaPo campaign blog The Trail on Aug. 12). Romney was referring to a global warming question asked by a snowman at the Democratic YouTube debate.
Does Romney really have any reason to be afraid? After all, what difference it make if a kid with MacBook asks the questions instead of an experienced moderator if the candidates still respond with the same boiler plate talking points and are never held to their words?

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