Politics

"Leave Television Behind"

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Blogger extraordinaire Jeff Jarvis viewed CNN's YouTube debate with the Dems and concludes:

TV doesn't know how to have a conversation. TV knows how to perform. The event's moderator, CNN's Anderson Cooper, behaved almost apologetically about the intrusion of these real people, who speak without benefit of make-up. He interrupted the candidates constantly, allowing them shallow soundbites a fraction the length and depth of even a YouTube video.

So I wish we'd have the YouTube debate on YouTube and leave TV behind. A few of the candidates are beginning to answer voters' questions and challenges directly, small-camera-to-small-camera. Thus they are opening up a dialogue between candidate and constituent that was not possible before the internet: a conversation in our new public square. That is how elections should be held, amid the citizens.

More here.

Meanwhile, Marie Cocco writes in the Oregon Statesman-Journal that the YouTube spectacle sucked for a different reason, and calls for a return to the high school gym:

For me, the novelty of the YouTube debate wasn't its newness. It was its undertone of crassness.

A chronic complaint about contemporary politics is that campaigns lack civility. They're dominated by sneering sound bites, cable-television shouting matches and tactics that can transform an opponent's silly gaffe into an alleged character flaw. We lament the diminished respect for both the political process and the offices that politicians seek. Not long ago, the infamous boxers-or-briefs question put to Bill Clinton during an MTV telecast brought a national gasp of disapproval—both because the question was asked, and answered. Now we're unperturbed when candidates are quizzed on whether they've discussed sex in a "medically accurate and age appropriate" way.

There is something about the Internet that makes people feel they can be blunt or irreverent or even profane—the language of instant messaging and e-mail. This isn't the tone at a traditional town hall meeting where candidates take questions, and where those asking the questions are amid their neighbors, co-workers and friends.

Abandoning the electronic town hall and returning to the high school gym or church basement won't make presidential politics less democratic. Just a bit more decorous.

More here.

The GOP version is scheduled for September 17 but may be postponed, largely due to the most Max Headroom-esque of the Republican candidates, Mitt Romney, who has said he plans to skip the forum.

NEXT: When We Will Get a Look Inside?

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  1. I think politics has been suffering from the malaise of decorum for far too long now. A little bluntness and ireverence could do wonders for the political process. And profanity is in the eye of the beholder.

    It would be nice to see a candidate have to stand up there and actually answer a tough question. Otherwise we’re stuck with politics as a game of slow-pitch softball played by two teams whose players are basically picked gym-class style.

  2. Pundits seemed dumbstruck as politicos- witness this celebration of the common wisdom :

    http://link.brightcove.com/services/link/bcpid86195573/bclid212338097/bctid1124132222

  3. I was watching the ’92 debates between Bush, Clinton, and Perot on Youtube last night – it’s amusing how they’re more or less talking about the same stuff as today. Also, how George Bush just keeps saying “I have an agenda for America, if we just followed it everything would be AWESOME” and then never outlined what his agenda was.

  4. I think politics has been suffering from the malaise of decorum for far too long now. A little bluntness and ireverence could do wonders for the political process.

    I agree. We’re supposed to treat every issue as a place where reasonable people can disagree, rather than just coming out and saying “Look, a huge majority of Americans want to get the fuck out of Iraq, now why the hell won’t you cowards show a spine and finally sign off on that idea?”

    Or say “Look, the only guy on this stage with a freaking clue about Iraq and drug policy is, strangely enough, a socialist who looks like Frodo. Shouldn’t the rest of you feel a bit ashamed of yourselves?”

  5. Look, the only guy on this stage with a freaking clue about Iraq and drug policy is, strangely enough, a socialist who looks like Frodo. Shouldn’t the rest of you feel a bit ashamed of yourselves?

    D-Kuc may look like like Frodo, but his missus looks like Arwen. Only hotter.

  6. D-Kuc may look like like Frodo, but his missus looks like Arwen. Only hotter.

    Ok, how the hell did he land her?

  7. oh but the point of my earlier comment was that it’s interesting how the “decorum” and necessary presidential image, even the rhetorical style, has changed so much in 15 years.

    And really, how did Kucinich pull that off?

  8. D-Kuc meets his wife story.

    Money quote:

    “I saw her eyes go to the light consciousness picture, then to the Gandhi bust, then to me,” he says. “It was like one, two, three. That’s when I knew.”

  9. Dude is mos def a player.

  10. Dude, it’s the Salem Statesman Journal. And, contrary to what you might’ve heard, its one of three major papers in the state. Although it, like Salem itself, sucks a big pink one.

  11. IT’S!

    Learn to be literate, Tim!

  12. Oh, my heavens! Get me my smellings salts.

    The children of Broder, all over the country. Damn peasants, learn some manners!

  13. Ah, the old “politics used to be civil” canard. When, praytell, was that? The only difference I see is that the nastiness, pettiness and self-dealing are more widely broadcast for everyone’s viewing pleasure.

    Or, perhaps, there were perfectly genteel, policy-driven reasons for opponents to question the sex lives of Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson and make fun of Abe Lincoln’s appearance and manners.

  14. Yep, elections in these here United States have always been such models of civility and decorum.

    I’m not sure that YouTube can match the elections of the 19th century where the uncouth mobs were liquored up by the candidates and partisan newspapers printed the most scurillous libels about candidates.

    Those are the days I want back. 🙂

    Liquor and scurillous libel, the more the better, I say.

  15. Is Children of Broder a black metal band?

  16. There is something about the Internet that makes people feel they can be blunt or irreverent or even profane — the language of instant messaging and e-mail. This isn’t the tone at a traditional town hall meeting where candidates take questions, and where those asking the questions are amid their neighbors, co-workers and friends.

    I think it has less to do with the Internet and more to do with the fact that people don’t look at politicians in the same manner the press and politicians view themselves. People see them as mere public servants — not some entity that needs to be revered or respected.

    The only people who really hold politicians in high regard are the press-folk who want access and the politicians themselves.

  17. I was watching the ’92 debates between Bush, Clinton, and Perot on Youtube last night – it’s amusing how they’re more or less talking about the same stuff as today.

    My mom had universal healthcare as a debate topic in high school. She’s in her 60s.

  18. Is Children of Broder a black metal band?

    Sort of like Children of Bodom, but soaked in conventional wisdom.

  19. I outline here the only way future debates of this type could be worthwhile.

    Perhaps in the interest of getting “liberatarian” ideas out there Reason would be interested in funding the development and promotion of the site described at the link.

  20. I think we need a re-enactment of the Senate decorum of the 1850s, with Hillary playing the part of Preston Brooks, beating Obama with her cane.

  21. Oh yeah, here’s the link for that story. Those were the days.

  22. Is Children of Broder a black metal band?

    Sort of like Children of Bodom, but soaked in conventional wisdom.

    Speaking of Broder, here’s a classic Keyboard Kommando’s episode from the lefty but super funny The Poorman’s Institue blog.

  23. When you invoke Jarvis on your side of the argument, you forfeit the debate on ground of your apparent incompetence.

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