Bloggers on the CNN/YouTube GOP debate.

Bloggers on the CNN/YouTube GOP debate.

Bloggers on the CNN/YouTube GOP debate.

The latest chatter in cyberspace.
Nov. 29 2007 6:11 PM

A Question of Questions

Bloggers autopsy last night's YouTube debates, analyze Rudy's latest scandal, and eulogize former Rep. Henry Hyde.

A question of questions: Last night's CNN/YouTube Republican debates featured questions on abortion, gay rights, and toys. Problem was that the questions were posed by Democratic activists, and nobody knew. At least for a few minutes.

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"This should be a doozy," wrote Todd Beeton at MyDD just before the debates last night. And it was, as Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney sparred throughout. But within a few hours, the debate was overshadowed by the Democratic questioners, most notably a question on gays in the military that came from retired Brig. Gen. Keith Kerr, who's worked for a Clinton campaign steering committee.

Michelle Malkin headlines her scoop: "Abortion questioner is declared Edwards supporter (and a slobbering Anderson Cooper fan); Log Cabin Republican questioner is declared Obama supporter; lead toy questioner is a prominent union activist for the Edwards-endorsing United Steelworkers."

John Podhoretz at Commentary's Contentions argues: "The scandalous aspect last night is that three Democratic operatives were allowed to pose as 'unaffiliated voters' asking questions specifically designed to embarrass the entire Republican party, not just the candidates on stage."

While Anderson Cooper disavows any knowledge, James Joyner at Outside the Beltway is not about to let CNN off the hook. He writes: "They simply should have known. If lone bloggers can vet these people in less than half an hour, surely CNN's crack journalistic team should have been able to do so between the time they selected the pool of questions and the airing of the debate?" 

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At liberal-bias watchdog site Newbusters, Mark Finkelstein says that either Clinton's campaign reneged on its promise to stop planting questions or it's "out of control" and adds, "Neither possibility paints a flattering picture of the woman who would be Commander-in-Chief." He also posts a video of MSNBC host Joe Scarborough calling CNN's defense "total crap."

However disgruntled the righties might be, their liberal counterparts are none too pleased that Gen. Kerr, who was invited by CNN to be in the audience, was booed while asking follow-up questions. James Kirchick at the New Republic's Plank retorts: "Okay. Perhaps CNN should have vetted him more and had him acknowledge these affiliations. But I don't see how that justifies the largely GOP audience shouting down a veteran with over 40 years of service to his country." Bloggers at Lean Left similarly pound on the apparent hypocrisy: "Indeed, the GOP makes a fetish over supporting the troops, in some cases even going so far as to say that criticizing the conduct of the war, or the President's strategies, or the conduct of individual soldiers is tantamount to treason. But apparently that only applies to straight officers."

But back at Captain's Quarters, it is Ed Morrissey who illuminates the middle road: "Bad journalistic practices? Definitely yes. But does that negate the questions themselves? I don't think so. The CNN/YouTube format closely parallels that of the traditional town-hall forum. For the most part, attendees do not get vetted at these events either, nor should they."

Giuliani scandal: A new report claims that Rudy Giuliani used taxpayer money to cheat on his wife. Or, as the Politico puts it more soberly, "[Giuliani] billed obscure city agencies for tens of thousands of dollars in security expenses amassed during the time when he was beginning an extramarital relationship with future wife Judith Nathan in the Hamptons."

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A blogger at Faithful Progressive opines: "What a gross waste of taxpayers money. Billing obscure agencies for apparently trumped-up trips as he pursued his extra-marital love interest--does that make you unfit to be President? I'm not sure. But it sure betrays a sense of entitlement and a willingness to abuse both the public and private trust in a manner that waves huge red flags about his character."

Jonathan Stein at Mother Jones' Mojo is unsatisfied with Giuliani's rationalizations thus far. He writes, "No matter what, though, Giuliani had better figure out what his position is, because every time he takes a new stance, he extends the story through another news cycle." Which is just fine with  "DHinMI" at Daily Kos: "The Rudy Giuliani taxpayer-funded adultery story is not yet 24 hours old, so it's too soon to tell if the traditional media will let this story die the way they've largely ignored plenty of other Giuliani stories." Liberal Steve Benen at the Carpetbagger Report makes a bold prediction: "On a variety of occasions, I've seen Republican scandals that I thought would be a huge deal but ended up fizzling, so I'm probably not the ideal judge. That said, the 'Shag Fund' controversy looks like it should effectively finish Giuliani's campaign."

Hyde dies: Bloggers are remembering the late GOP Rep. Henry Hyde, who passed away Thursday at age 83. He was a staunch foe of abortion and also led the impeachment proceedings against Bill Clinton. Most eulogies are straightforward and cautiously nostalgic.

Of course, there is no absence of requisite attacks. Shaun Mullen at Kiko's House calls Hyde, who confessed to philandering, an "arch hypocrite." But most criticism, like Megan Carpentier's encapsulation at Wonkette, is more understated: "Hyde hated abortions, liked other old people, got really upset about Clinton diddling that intern, cheated on his own wife and married his final wife (a long-time staff member) about a year ago."

Matthew J. Franck at National Review's Bench Memos emphasizes Hyde's work for the pro-life movement: "Certainly he is one of the great champions of the unborn in American history.  He was also proof that statesmanship is not inseparable from an outsized ego, and that a life in politics need not ruin a man of character."