By now you’re probably aware of the latest CNN debate fracas. If not I’ll bring you up to speed. One of the submitted questions via You Tube was from a man named Keith Kerr. He’s a 74 year old retired Army colonel and California National Guard general. His question was about the “don’t ask/don’t tell” policy regarding gays in the military. Mr. Kerr introduced himself as an openly gay man who only came out after he retired, so it was a rather poignant set up for the question.
So, what’s the problem? Kerr just happens to be on the LGBT Americans For Hillary Steering Committee. Okay, you might be thinking maybe CNN just missed that when they accepted his video question. That would be bad enough, but that’s not all there was to it. He was invited to come to the debate itself. He was in the audience and was allowed to ask follow-up questions and give a speech. Supposedly CNN had no idea he was with the Clinton campaign. Isn’t it interesting that righty bloggers were able to discover that fact within an hour after the debate was over?
Most of the focus has been on Mr. Kerr, obviously because he’s working directly with the Clinton campaign, but his wasn’t the only question selected that came from Democrats who openly support Democratic candidates. There was a young woman asking about abortion who, in other videos posted at her YouTube site, is shown wearing a t-shirt with John Edwards ’08 emblazoned across the front. A man who asked the candidates about Log Cabin Republicans was quickly identified as an Obama fan. The woman presented as a mother worried about lead in toys turns out to be a union activist from Pittsburgh with ties to John Edwards. Her video question, that was presented at the GOP debate, is even featured on United Steelworkers video site.
Let’s see. Who else do we have? Jason Coleman discovered that the guy who asked why the GOP doesn’t attract more blacks to their side who has a YouTube page featuring a satirical sketch about a “Blind Black Republican” as well as other videos fawning over John Edwards. Coleman also found that the young man who asked about corn subsidies interned with Jane Harman. There may be others that I haven’t covered here, but you get the picture.
Now, considering how upset the netroots were over the alleged piling on by Tim Russert during the debate in which Hillary melted down on the question about drivers licenses for illegals, you’d expect those folks to be equally outraged by something like this. Tim Russert is tough, but imagine their reaction if they’d discovered he was being fed the questions directly from the GOP! If you’re expecting them to jump in an condemn CNN for allowing this to happen you’ll be disappointed. Let me present some of their reactions to this faux pas. I’ll just pluck a few from memeorandum:
Cernig at The Newshoggers has this to say about it:
Just an observation from an outsider – but why are Republicans so upset that some people who are registered Democrats got to ask pointed questions in last night’s CNN/YouTube debate?Memeorandum today is full of their outrage – just about every conservo-blogger is there with bells on, and the Malkinites are doing their best Keystone Cops impressions.
Firstly, isn’t this meant to be a democracy?
There you have it. Since this is a Democracy nobody should care about Democratic campaign operatives doing the questioning at a GOP debate. Cernig continues:
Secondly, shouldn’t Republicans want to choose a candidate who has a proven ability to effectively field pointed questions from the opposition – or know about it if none of their candidates can?
Oh, sure – just like the Democrats should want to choose a candidate who can respond to questioning from Tim Russert without whining and crying about how unfair it is. Oops..nope, they don’t want that, do they? He finishes by noting that Hillary shills Media Matters has a list of questions from the Democratic YouTube debate in July they think are from possible Republican plants. No outrage here, just spinning and rationalizing.
Next we have Steve Benen at The Carpetbagger Report. He chooses to focus on the the questions Mr. Kerr asked and the audible booing he received from the audience when he began speechifying. I agree that the booing was pretty tacky, but what does Steve think about Mr. Kerr’s working with the Clinton campaign?
I’m not sure what the fuss is about. Kerr asked a legitimate question about a political issue. Candidates answered it. Kerr defended his position, and the conservative audience booed him. Who cares if he supports a Democratic presidential candidate? It wasn’t a partisan question.
Nothing to see here. Move along, folks. Benen goes on to spin and divert back to the booing, implying Mr. Kerr is being swiftboated:
Whatever. It seems to me the problem here is that Republican presidential candidates want to discriminate against able-bodied, patriotic Americans, who are prepared to put their lives on the line during a war for their country. Conservatives can’t explain why this policy makes any sense at all, so they’re attacking an honorable, 43-year military veteran for daring to raise the subject in the first place.
Of course. All the interest in Kerr being a Clinton operative is just an attack on him for speaking truth to power!
Next up is Melissa McEwan from Shakeville. Her posts has the obligatory snarky title ZOMG! PLANTS! PLAAAAAAANTS!!!
This was supposed to be a debate where the Republican candidates got asked questions by average people—not necessarily Republican average people. And just because a question exposes a profound ideological hypocrisy—e.g. “What punishment would you give to women who get abortions if abortion is criminalized?” or “Why don’t you support gays serving in the military?” (despite all the support-the-troops rhetoric)—doesn’t mean the question isn’t fair.What’s hilariously disingenuous about their outrage is that there are plenty of conservative voters who want answers to those questions. They have to ignore the reality of the GOP base in order to be pissed off about these questions—which is why they’re hiding behind indignation about the questioners instead.
Here we can see a talking point in the making: The only reason anybody is interested in what went on in this debate is because they’re attempting to attack the questioners instead of confronting the questions. And what’s that about average people? Is someone directly involved with the Clinton campaign average? What about activists for other campaigns? I wonder if McEwen would consider a Giuliani operative, who’s not presented as such, asking questions of Democrats to be just an average American.
Crooks and Liars follows the same pattern:
As it turns out, Gen. Kerr is co-chair of Hillary Clinton’s National Military Veterans Group, an affiliation that is making the right wing blogs crazy–the nerve of a Democratic candidate supporter asking questions of Republicans! But Gen. Kerr’s question had neither anything to do with Clinton nor was it partisan in nature. But leave it to the wingnuts to ignore the substance because of the messenger.
I wonder what Crooks and Liars had to say about the alleged piling on Hillary that occurred in Philadelphia last month at the Democratic Debate there. Here’s the first post about it on November 2:
As I was watching the MSNBC debate with Jane Hamsher, (she stayed with me for a few days before her surgery yesterday and is recovering nicely.) I turned and said that I was wondering when Russert would ask her if she killed Vince Foster. The hostility directed at her was pretty ridiculous. Disagree with her all you want and I certainly do, but Russert had a plan in mind and carried it out. You will never see Republicans treated this way throughout a debate. Taylor Marsh thought so too.
Well, gee. Nothing there about how the Clinton camp is attacking the questioner to avoid dealing with the questions. Why, John Amato is almost accusing Tim Russert of being a Republican plant!
A few days later there was another post on C&L titled Take my Media, Please?:
What’s that Henny Youngman joke? Take my wife, please? Well, take our media and shove it. The Left Coaster exposes the lies that Russert used on Hillary about the Clinton archives during MSNBC’s debate last week.
Tim Russert asking tough questions – bad. Clinton operatives asking questions…*yawn*.
I could continue on with other examples, but suffice it to say the meme from the left concerning the debate debacle is that it’s no big deal which people were chosen to ask the questions. What really matters is the truthiness of the questions!
Update 7:30 Via Allahpundit at Hot Air:
political director admits they shouldn’t have used Kerr’s question
given his campaign affiliation with Hillary, then turns around and
undercuts the logic of that position:
The network looked into the backgrounds of people who submitted “very sensitive questions,” Feist said, but didn’t ask their party affiliation or whether they were associated with a campaign…
Feist asserted that conservative bloggers like Fox News contributor Michelle Malkin, who has led the way in probing the backgrounds of questioners at the GOP debate, “are trying to distract from the issues.
“It’s interesting to see our critics really focusing on the questioners, but not really focusing on the questions. You haven’t heard them say that these were not useful questions.”
It appears Feist looked around on memeorandum to determine how to respond to this. You see, it’s irrelevant who the questioners were. We should be focusing on the questions!