Thursday, November 29, 2007

Diva Debate Analysis

I preface this with the disclosure that I am not a Republican, but this post will not contain any bashing of the GOP. Much. Kidding. Sorta.

We entered the building under tight security. No cell phones or cameras, so you'll have to do with the written description or you can try to find my post-debate comments on YouTube, but I'm not directing you there. I was bummed about the camera--I wanted to get a shot of the protesters outside, and the amazing contrast of the CNN set inside. Because it dawned on me then, that that was the point of this. Democracy at its finest. Peaceful protest; grass roots cheers and jeers unfiltered by a television network.

So we climbed up to the balcony and sat next to a woman whose hair looked like it was styled by a cotton candy machine. She was dripping with mint julep praise of Mike Huckabee while I expressed my excitement over seeing Anderson Cooper and his new fancy shoes. Anyway, we were a little worried that we would be confined to our seats for the entire debate (3 hours) with no food, bathroom breaks, cell phones or drinks. Yeah, it was a dry debate. Ouch. To pass the time, we decided that we would do a shot in the future every time a candidate made a reference to Ronald Reagan. I think we knew that would be a lot more thirst-quenching than the one Bush mention.

I wondered at first how this YouTube questioning would work. Admittedly, the only things I've watched on YouTube were some kids making Mentos-Diet Coke rockets and some idiot who put a firecracker in his rear end. Really not what I would consider intelligent politics. But as the questions were asked in this format, I began to realize the magic of it all.

Setting aside some of the Internet theatrics, these were honest people asking honest questions. They asked the things you or I would have if we talking over dinner. These were things that were important to them, and they deserved to be addressed by the person that wants to become their president.

The candidates are politicians so the answers weren't much more than what you would expect, but for the first time in a very long time, I noticed a small shift in the political wind.

Not between red and blue states, donkeys or elephants; but a shift in our national consciousness. Real or imagined, the 20 questions asked may not have been the most important issues to everyone, but they were important someone, and seeing Joe from Philadelphia addressing John McCain or Frank from Brooklyn questioning Rudy Guiliani without a polished Made for TV Question was more powerful than I can describe.

YouTube didn't degenerate it as I had feared. I wouldn't go as far as to say it elevated political discourse, either. But in some small way, it righted it, and a small correction was made, if only for 3 hours.

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