Who cares if it’s not really a mash-up? The Yahoo!/Huffington Post/Slate forum for the Democratic presidential candidates is now live, and Todd Beeton of MyDD.com thinks it’s pretty good. Beeton writes:
Although not technically a debate, this is one of the best forums we’ve had to hear the views of the candidates if only because each candidate is allowed to delve more deeply than normal into each of only 3 topics. It’s also refreshing to see the “lower tier” candidates given as much time as the front-runners so they can actually be heard for a change. What’s missing, of course, is the opportunity for candidates to clash head-to-head but that hardly happens during the normal debates anyway.
Internet evangelist Jeff Jarvis is, shall we say, less positive. Writing at his BuzzMachine blog, Jarvis calls the forum “a pathetic insult to the voters that is years behind in Internet culture.” He adds:
So we end up with watching Charlie Rose and Bill Maher asking the candidates questions on the usual topics – do we have a shortage of this on TV debates? Where’s the interactivity? Well, we get to pick which videos to watch. Oooh, the freedom. It’s like a bad children’s museum: “Here, children, push this button. You won’t do any harm.”
We should be the ones asking the questions. We should be the ones selecting the questions. We should be the ones editing the questions.
Instead, they give us buttons to push. What an insult.
Jarvis proposes a way to make the debate a true mash-up: “For you see, it’s not just about us watching. It’s about us producing and broadcasting.” He elaborates, “Indeed, why not go one step farther and take all the video from all the debates since they are open to our unrestricted reuse and put them together so we can produce and publish the ultimate mashups from the election so far?”
It is an understatement to say that two prominent conservative opinion-slingers are unhappy with Fred Thompson’s presidential campaign rollout. In his Washington Post column, George Will writes:
Fred Thompson’s plunge into the presidential pool — more belly-flop than swan dive — was the strangest product launch since that of New Coke in 1985. Then, the question was: Is this product necessary? A similar question stumped Thompson the day he plunged.
Will then dissects Thompson’s interview with conservative talk-radio host Laura Ingraham about his past support for the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform. Will writes of Thompson, “His rambling, incoherent explanation was just clear enough to be alarming about what he believes, misremembers and does not know.”
Robert Novak is less unkind but still critical. “Thompson’s late start in itself is not a fatal flaw,” Novak writes in his Chicago Sun-Times column. “Still, it had been conceded in party circles that when he finally became a candidate, his beginning better be memorable. It was not.”
Tonight’s presidential “mash-up” debate, sponsored by The Huffington Post, Slate and Yahoo! is neither a debate nor a mash-up, complains National Review’s Jim Geraghty at his Campaign Spot blog.
Geraghty links to a Wired story by Sarah Lai Stirland that explains the problem:
Mashups typically involve the combination of two disparate elements — for example, metropolitan crime data and Google maps, or rapper Jay Z’s The Black Album and the Beatles’ The White Album — to make new creations such as chicagocrime.org or Danger Mouse’s The Grey Album.
To that end, Yahoo said as recently as Friday that it would upload the raw footage from the online debate to its own web-based video editing service Jumpcut, to make it easy for the footage to be spliced and diced as citizen editors saw fit. “Users will be able to create their own mashups and post the footage onto their websites afterwards — that’s for the hardcore fans who want to engage with this video,” spokesman Brian Nelson told Wired News.
But on Monday, Nelson called back to say the company had changed its mind. Instead the “mashup page” will only [let] citizens pick and choose which candidates they want to hear from on particular issues, by pointing and clicking on a web interface.
Geraghty concludes, “So in the end, users can… watch 15-minute interviews with the Democratic presidential candidates conducted by PBS host Charlie Rose. Thrilling!”
(Click the following link to read six articles published on the Times op-ed page last month as responses to the question, “What would a real new-media debate look like?”)
Time magazine political columnist Joe Klein thinks the full-page MoveOn.org advertisement, which referred to “General Betray Us,” in Monday’s New York Times was “morally and politically outrageous.”
“MoveOn has handed the Bush Administration a major victory — at a moment when all attention should be focused on whether we should continue to commit U.S. troops to this disaster,” Klein writes at Swampland, the Time political blog. “Just nauseating.” (Gen. Petraeus hadn’t yet told Senator John Warner, Republican of Virginia, that he wasn’t sure whether the Iraq war was making America safer when Klein wrote his blog post.)
Klein thinks the flap over the advertisement will be more than a one-day story. He writes:
Usually the Republicans are the ones who’ve tried to change topics at a crucial Iraq moment…but MoveOn usurped that gambit this time. This is going to put the Democrats on the defensive. They’re going to have to answer questions like the one posed by the odious Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida: Will you disassociate yourselves from this? The Presidential candidates will be asked…and they will have to either disassociate themselves from MoveOn (which the party’s base won’t like) or associate themselves with calling General Petraeus a traitor. And make no mistake: One who betrays us is a traitor.
Christopher Orr, a senior editor for The New Republic, is outraged that “more is not being made of the news that, back in 1992 when he was a lawyer/lobbyist, Fred Thompson billed a few hours of work on behalf of two Libyan intelligence agents charged with (and one of them later convicted of) the bombing of Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland.” Orr writes:
Several prominent lobbyists, including Tommy Boggs, turned down overtures to work for Libya on the case, despite offers of a reported $1.5 million retainer. Vicki Reggie Kennedy, wife of Ted, actually resigned a partnership in her law firm over its decision to represent Libya, even though–as far as I can tell–she was never asked to do any work on the case.
But not good ol’ Fred. Not go along to get along, take a dollar where you find it Fred. A couple dozen hours lobbying for abortion rights? Why not? A few more spent helping defend two men accused of a heinous act of terrorism? Heck, if it wasn’t Fred, it’d just be someone else, right?
In a political era in which the cost of a man’s haircut can be treated as though it were a window into his soul, you’d think people would be a little more curious what it says about Fred Thompson that he’d do work–even just 3.3 hours of it–for indicted terrorists.
You don’t need to listen to Gen. David Petraeus to know that “the surge has failed, as measured by the president’s and Petraeus’s standards of success,” writes George Will in his Washington Post column. He continues:
Those who today stridently insist that the surge has succeeded also say they are especially supportive of the president, Petraeus and the military generally. But at the beginning of the surge, both Petraeus and the president defined success in a way that took the achievement of success out of America’s hands.
The purpose of the surge, they said, is to buy time — “breathing space,” the president says — for Iraqi political reconciliation. Because progress toward that has been negligible, there is no satisfactory answer to this question: What is the U.S. military mission in Iraq?
Americans are, and will always be, uncomfortable with “wars of choice” like Korea, Vietnam and Iraq, Will suggests. “What ‘forced’ America to go to war in 2003 — the ‘gathering danger’ of weapons of mass destruction — was fictitious,” he writes. “That is one reason this war will not be fought, at least not by Americans, to the bitter end.” He continues:
The end of the war will, however, be bitter for Americans, partly because the president’s decision to visit Iraq without visiting its capital confirmed the flimsiness of the fallback rationale for the war — the creation of a unified, pluralist Iraq.
After more than four years of war, two questions persist: Is there an Iraq? Are there Iraqis?